What: Dinner at The Cow (Geronimo Inns)
Where: Westfield, Stratford
Price: About £60 for two course meal for two, inc a v good bottle of wine
Rating: three/four stars
Generally speaking, I do not enjoy a day of shopping. Consequently, I loathe shopping centres, or “malls” as those behind Westfield et al. would have us call them. So I could be forgiven for not being in the best of moods as we arrived at The Cow, Geronimo Inns’ latest gastro pub, situated at the edge of the Stratford Westfield, and overlooking the Olympic park. It was 7.30 on a Thursday, and the place was absolutely rammed with punters both keen to grab some post-work drinks and a view of the second Euro 2012 semi final. The atmosphere was buzzing, and we feared the worst, looking as we were for a quiet dinner for two.
However, climbing the stairs of the faux barn it’s laid out as, we found ourselves in a den of tranquility, a light, spacious, and alfresco-esque dining room seemingly light years away from the bustle of the crowds. It was an eerie contrast, a strange feeling knowing the chaos below, but all the more pleasing for it.
Our charming, attentive and knowledgeable waitress showed us to the corner table, which has superb views of the Olympic park, the stadium itself and all the way across to Canary Wharf. Fortunately for us it was a delicious sunny evening, which did the panorama deserved justice.
The wine was fantastic, a crisp, medium-dry New Zealand sauvignon blanc, perfect for a summer’s evening, served in a cute plastic ice bag.
Our shared starter of “Cowpaccio”, a brave choice for a pub food menu, however upmarket its ambitions, sadly lacked the flavour I expected. What little it did have was almost entirely dominated by the cheddar cheese it came accompanied by, although the texture and sauce were very pleasant.
The mains, a monumental burger and a substantial rib eye steak, were big and bold, just the ticket after a day of trawling the sales. The burger came with three little jars – a chilli jam, caramelised onions and a burger sauce – prettily presented on a thick wooden chopping board. My steak was near-perfectly cooked rare, juicy and thick but not overly heavy, served with the chunkiest chips I’ve ever seen, a peppery and fresh watercress garnish, and a creamy Bearnaise sauce. However, the serving size was simply too much, even for me, and for the first time in a long time, I was forced to admit defeat, unable to finish.
Dessert was by far the most intriguing. We shared both a gin & tonic sorbet and a cornflake ice cream, they were cheeky, imaginative, and hinted at further ambitions to go beyond the “pub grub” norm. The latter is home-made, by draining and freezing the milk from a huge bowl of soggy cornflakes, before adding cornflake crumbs and honey to serve. It was a wonderfully nostalgic, breakfast-y dessert. By contrast, the gin and tonic sorbet was the perfect cross between pallet cleanser and digestif, rounding off a lovely meal with a cheeky flourish. My only criticism was its lack of garnish – a lime wedge punch line would add a touch more character.
All in all, this was a beautiful meal in a delightful setting, worlds away from the stress of shopping, to my pleasant surprise. If you find yourself in Westfield, by choice or by force, this is well worth dropping in for a drink, a bite to eat and some well-earned rest at the end of the day. Wonderful.