Review - The Cow (Roasts)

Review – The Cow (Roasts)

Potatoes matter. Any roast aficionado knows this to be true. They are an integral part of a roast dinner. Soft inside with a perfect crispy exterior. When it comes to a enjoying a roast dinner, anything less than a 4 potato minimum is just stingy.

So on a grey Sunday afternoon I find myself leaving behind the whoops and whistles of the Brighton Marathon to pursue my own mini-marathon up the hill to Seven Dials with great trepidation for what the Sunday lunch at The Cow may hold for me.

I don’t want complexity. I don’t want reams of choice of exotic meats and strange vegetables. To me that’s a sign that the vendor is offering gimmicks to make up for a lack of basic quality. A great roast dinner is about having the basics done well; quality meat and fresh vegetables done simply but done right.

On arrival we find all the traditional meats are on offer; including beef, chicken, leg of lamb and pork belly, alongside a vegetable pastry option for vegetarians. There is also cod fillet and some non-roast options such as a chicken salad or lamb shank with cous cous. Unbelievably, some of my friends claim not to like roasts which would make The Cow a good option to satisfy everyone. There are also children’s size meals available.

At the bar I order the roast beef rump with cracked pepper and sea salt, whilst my companion orders the vegetable pastry, described by the staff as “a kind of vegetable wellington.” The Cow is full to the brim with chattering families and couples, making for a lively environment rather than somewhere you would come for a quiet meal.

All around us the decor is inspired by the good old US of A and the American theme continues onto the drinks menu with a range of pale ales from the US, as well as word beers from as far afield as Australia. In fact, it’s a beer extravaganza, including German light beers, abbey and trappist beers, fruit beers and bottled ciders. There is also a range of the standard cocktails and a good choice of mocktails.

Roast Beef Rump - with cracked pepper and sea salt. Photograph by Laura Evans.

Roast Beef Rump – with cracked pepper and sea salt. Photograph by Laura Evans.

Our food arrives quickly and as you can see from my photos our plates were somewhat precariously balanced on our tiny table, our spot being perhaps more often used for those getting acquainted with the drinks menu rather than settling down for a comfortable meal. However, there are bigger tables at The Cow which will easily accommodate large groups.

The first thing I notice is a yorkshire pudding the size of a small hat. This is good. There is a decent range of vegetables; large sweet carrots, a cabbage and pea mix, roast squash and tangy pickled red cabbage. The celeriac puree is delicious, soft and smooth.

My beef is thinly sliced, pink and sprinkled with hot pepper. Even being late in the day the beef is neither dry nor overcooked, in fact it’s perfect and if you find yourself visiting this establishment I recommend that you do have a cow man. My friend’s vegetable pastry is tasty and filling, if a little dry.

Vegetable Wellington at The Cow. Photograph by Laura Evans.

Vegetable Wellington at The Cow. Photograph by Laura Evans.

Remember my all important 4 potato minimum? I’m pleased to see that The Cow abides by such a rule and as I dig through my plate I find my potatoes which are superbly soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, although overly salty to mine and my companion’s tastes.

The food at The Cow is good albeit quite an expensive choice for a Brighton roast. Most of the roasts range from £11.95-£13.95 and if you want extras like stuffing (although this does come with the roast chicken) or pigs in blankets you will needs to stump up another £2.50 for additions.

And thusly, we find ourselves at the finish line. Would I visit The Cow again? Probably for a beer and a burger, what with the excellent 2-4-1 deal on burgers later on a Sunday. Maybe for a roast if I was with a large group with children, but not so much for a chilled out outing with a friend due to the busy and bustling nature of the Indigo pub.

And as for the perfect roast potato? There my quest continues, but I’m very pleased The Cow satisfied my 4 potato rule.

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Words and photography by Laura Evans.
@LauraOfBrighton