It’s a blockbuster, all right. No longer the blue and yellow of the former movie-rental site, but the crimson of Red Cow, its new beer-and-burger occupant, serving the hungry hordes patrolling 50th & France.
Launched by an offshoot of the Blue Plate casual-dining empire, the hour-long Tuesday evening wait is culinary proof that “If you fry it, they will come” — at least, if the burgers are decent and the beer flows well. Which they are and it does. And the diner-friendly servers could probably sell you sno-cones in a blizzard if they tried.
Seated at last in the been-here-forever setting (well, since last week) of faux-barn wood, with “vintage” filament lights swaying from the HVAC tunnels and “antique” pressed tin that top the room, we shared three apps from the suds-suited snack list ($3.50 for caramel-bacon popcorn to $13 for cheese and salumi plate).
I cannot resist a good, or even indifferent, poutine—Canadians’ revenge on the pristine french fry—and this kitchen offers not one, but three renditions. Our choice—a skillet heaped with slender frites loaded with duck confit in rich and tasty ribbons, abetted by sweet, balsamic-braised onions and savory marbles of goat cheese. Wickedly successful.
Next, a trio of pork belly sliders, served on mini-buns from Wuollet’s Bakery which shares the parking lot. Ours held juicy pork belly dripping with you-know-what, draped over a lick of cilantro-lime aioli and scattering of orange ponzu, then heaped with corn salsa and raw cabbage ribbons—an unnecessary, and unadept, flourish. (Or order the pastrami sliders, like baby Reubens.)
Next came quarters of Scotch eggs, a staple of any British pub and serving this one simply and successfully—hardboiled eggs enveloped in a slim and crispy, deepfried batter crust, well-partnered with a snappy, clear-the-brain beer-and-mustard sauce. Or choose from suds buddies like wings, mussels, onion petals, cheese curds.
Salads are there for the health addicts and also come as a side option to the 15 burger choices, as do fries or slaw, both of which are generic. But the burgers are anything but. They range from bison to elk Wellington, from salmon to duck, with vegetarian options in Italian and curry styles, plus a breakfast number (think—or shudder at—peanut butter on your Angus beef), all $10 range.
Our Barcelona version paired a medium-sized Angus pattie—juicy and middle of the road—with a mantle of manchego cheese, prosciutto, sweet red peppers and a slick of smoked aioli on one of those Wuollett buns. The lamb burger conveyed more flavor oomph, but a pairing with mint jelly (shades of gone-but-not-mourned Continental cuisine) and jalapeno cream cheese proved not a good fit. Overall winner: the turkey burger, incorporating the crunch of pistachios with the mild meat, given a modest bump of that cilantro-lime aioli and an incongruous bite of radishes beside sprigs of arugula.
Desserts ($4-6.50) come from next door: Wuollet’s raspberry soufflé, red velvet cupcake, chocolate mousse, and ice cream with biscotti. And, holy Red Cow! Both the lengthy beer and wine lists (many BTG) are interesting, affordable, and worth the drive.
3624 W. 50th St.
767-4411 (no reservations)