Cowbell, the new Oak Street venture from chef Brack May, is now kicking out tasty, eclectic, grub for lunch and dinner, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Located at 8801 Oak, just opposite the intersection of Leake Avenue & Oak St., near the train tracks, the restaurant occupies a converted filling station previously home to a short-lived sports bar.
A recent visit found the restaurant’s large, airy room buzzing with winter sunshine and diners eating their way through an eclectic menu featuring riffs on everything from clam chowder to grilled cheese to an arugula & chicken salad to burgers, steak, and fries. May’s food is layered with Latin and California flavors, all accented by thoughtful, flavor-packed accompaniments.
The “midnight skirt steak” was fork-tender under a scattering of mango salsa, and it rested atop the best fried plantains (crispy and yet meltingly tender) I’ve ever eaten in Orleans Parish. House-made fries arrive perfectly plain, or gilded by an organic-beef chili and cheese.
Two overstuffed fish tacos wore a tangy, peppery chayote and pickled onion slaw, with sides of guacamole, black beans, and green rice; an abundant plate of food I might have finished, except for the irresistible basket of pre-entree fries.
Cowbell is BYOB at present, awaiting liquor license approval, though it’s already providing a solid anchor to the upriver end of the revitalized Oak Street corridor. In a few months, Patois chef Aaron Burgeau’s new burger joint (in the old Gelato Pazzo location) will open at the opposite end of the street. Throw in the Oak wine bar, Oak Street Cafe, Jacques-Imo’s, and the Curry Corner, and the street offers (nearly) something for everyone.
Follow-up: the apple pie rocks, and a recent lunch special of hanger steak over a butter lettuce salad (roasted beets, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, tobacco-dusted fried onions, dressed in blue cheese) was impeccable.
(Psst: post a comment here and you just might win a bottle of homemade limoncello.)