Behind the doors of a Georgian townhouse, Pedro Cotzier discovers the steaks are high
WHAT’S your beef?
Mine, personally, is usually a large T-bone, cooked rare or medium-rare. At Cowshed, Liverpool’s newest steak restaurant (I am loathe to say steakhouse, as the term seems to be a cut below what this place stands for), there is a stripped back menu involving only three cuts of the cow, sadly none are my beloved T-bone. We’ll move on though, as the absence did not lead to any suffering.
Everything was in key and on song, with the seasoning, preparation, cooking and presentation all well considered and well executed
Resting next to the Blue Angel nightclub (or the Raz, for those of a certain age), Cowshed would be easily missed but for the hanging sign above the door. An unassuming façade in the midst of a Georgian terrace, it plays host to two floors of restaurant, making use of the space in a way which is not too restrictive to diners, provides a good atmosphere, without too much danger of a noisy experience, and plenty of natural light, at least in the front parlour.
Upon being led to our table, a bottle of tap water was provided and a brief manifesto given by the member of waiting staff; simple, succinct and relaying a belief that what they do at Cowshed is the correct path. At least in serving steak. Any questions were met with pleasant and knowledgeable retorts.
Before tackling the short menu, drinks were needed and this list is also quite trim with some good choices of wine, especially the reds, with a handful of cocktails and beers available for those who are not a fan of the grape.
The house red, an Argentinian Los Manitos Malbec-Shiraz blend (£15.50 a bottle) carries pedigree for being paired with a wide variety of beef cuts. The wine in itself was a juicy and full-bodied drop, at a reasonable price. The theme of value does seem to spread through the wine menu, especially for the red selection. A nod to old (European wines) and New World is a pleasant sight too.
Deep fried halloumi fingers with a red onion and tomato salsa (£3.50) were shared and invariably led to a stand-off over the final piece. The halloumi was surprisingly light, almost fluffy in texture with no squeak and the batter a light, crisp and great way to bolster the intense savoury flavours of the cheese. The salsa was a little too sweet and a bit close to a tomato ketchup for my liking, but it contrasted well with the fingers.
To the main event of the steaks, where you can also add marrow to your dish for £1. The flat iron (£10) and a seared ribeye (£14) were both intensely smoky on their exterior, but both cooked and rested to a pink perfection. Each was seasoned well and plated up with rocket and parmesan shavings, thankfully both fresh. Being served near-composted salad is a sure fire way to dull the edge of any meal.
The sides of the fries (£2.50) and glazed carrots (£3.25) were very enjoyable – the former crisp on the exterior and fluffy inside, the latter soft, sweet and buttery working well to contrast with the textures and flavours of the steaks.
One aspect always worth considering for the relatively simple restaurant premise of serving steaks is the butchery. All to often poor pieces of meat are given out, though not here. Everything was in key and on song, with the seasoning, preparation, cooking and presentation all well considered and well executed.
There are a few vegetarian options on the menu for sides, a single vegetarian and vegan friendly main, but it is probably not the best idea to visit a steak restaurant unless you are feeling carnivorous.
Toffee Bavarian Crème (£6), was not as I expected. Neither a firm mousse or a runny pudding, it was somewhere in between with a chewy but forgiving texture. Complementary strawberry, chocolate and cinnamon plantain crisps all played their part for something enjoyable but perhaps lacked thrill to round off the experience.
Cowshed might not be grandest of ventures, but the modest and fair pricing, great execution of dishes and more than satisfactory levels of service all add up to something worth investigation. And a definite revisit if you’re in the mood for steak.
All scored Confidential reviews are paid for by the company, never the venue or a PR outfit. Critics dine unannounced and their opinions are completely independent of any commercial relationships.
104 Seel Street,
Liverpool, L1 4BL.
0151 708 7580
Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind in the area: fine dining v the best fine dining, Sunday roasts against the best Sunday roasts, etc.
On this basis, the scores represent...
1-5: Save it for the dog; 6-9: Netflix and chill; 10-11: In an emergency; 12-13: If you happen to be passing; 14-15: Worth a trip out; 16-17: Very good to exceptional; 18-20: As good as it gets
Halloumi, 8/10; Steaks 8/10; Sides 7/10; Bavarian creme 6/10
Lovely atmosphere, clean and the background music perfectly judged
With a smile and great discourse