New restaurant : Fish & Cow
It is always great when a new restaurant opens in town – in a small city like Stavanger it doesn’t happen too often. But in March (in 2013) it was time for a new place to open: Fish & Cow! For as long as I can remember the pizza place Peppes Pizza has occupied one of the best locations in Stavanger: right on the city square (Torget). But this year they moved out and Fish & Cow moved in instead.
The restaurant has the same owners as Tango and the idea is to keep Tango as a fine dining alternative while Fish & Cow will be the more informal restaurant for a lunch or a meal with friends at night. We went there on a Friday night, the day after their opening and this means that this review is of a restaurant in its early stages.
We joined some friends for dinner and arrived at about 7.30 PM and the staff took our jackets – we were a bit surprised that the staff and some of the guests seemed to be dressed up. This was after all supposed to be the informal alternative but maybe it was just due to the opening night. The first thing that I noticed was the big steaks on display in glass refrigerated encasement. According to the restaurant they are some of the first in Norway that will leave their meat to mature for 3-4 weeks at a certain temperature and humidity. There is also a wine cellar – a striking glass walled center piece.
We were seated by the window but it gets dark early in March in Norway and the restaurant had dimmed the lighting. So much so that I could hardly read the menu but thankfully the iPhone helped me out. My beam of app light (ok, it resembled a search beacon to onlookers) attracted some attention. One of those drawn to the light was one of the guys that runs the place, who came over and conceded “I take the hint”. They actually came out with more candles to place on the tables. But I think there needs to be more than candles I need some direct light from above for the menu and to see the food I’m eating. Some fresh bread buns were served to go with the starter and a small carafe with water was also placed on the table. It was so small that when I had filled three of the glasses there was basically nothing left for myself. The buns were actually a bit of a distraction, we had to make an effort not to nibble on them too much and get full before our meal arrived.
Nikki and I decided to have duck terrine as a shared starter and it was served on a piece of toasted bread, some nuts and some watercress leaves. I have to admit that I didn’t make any notes during the meal (shame on me) and I can’t actually remember how it tasted – I guess that means that it was not that memorable.
I ordered the entrecote as my main and after much debate, Nikki ordered the Angus burger. Neither of us got any question about how we wanted the meat prepared – I guess the “correct” way is to have the meat served medium rare but people do have different preferences, so I would appreciate them checking. My angus steak was served medium rare and was quite tender. A bit lukewarm but quite tasty. The side dish of Jerusalem artichokes with some sort of herb butter was fork licking good. Nikki got a “deconstructed” hamburger (meaning that the top bun was served on the side) that she enjoyed. Although we both commented on lukewarm dishes, our friends didn’t seem to have the same issue.
We also decided to have dessert but that turned out to be a bit of a mistake. Not that anyone timed it and with the animated conversation, we didn’t really notice at first but the desert took “forever and ever” to be served. Eventually we actually had to remind them of the order and it seemed like they were struggling a bit in the kitchen. I don’t blame them for that – it must take a while to get everyone to work together when opening a new restaurant. We had the apple “jam” with homemade Danish pastry and I also think it came with cinnamon ice cream. The dessert was OK but that experience was maybe overshadowed by the wait. And there must have been something wrong with the coffee French press style. We got some rather large particles in the coffee so maybe we were doing something wrong.
The food was notably decent at Fish & Cow but as you can see from the above, the restaurant has a few things to improve. But I’m sure we will try to dine there again to see if they have made some improvements. But the place also needs to decide what kind of place it wants to be. Before I came there I kept thinking that it would be comparable to Renaa Matbaren but Fish & Cow is more expensive and has a less extensive menu. The meat at Fish & Cow was 375 NOK (65 USD) while Renaa charges 290 NOK (50 USD) and the burger was 265 NOK (45 USD) vs 220 NOK (38) at Matbaren - and the burger at Renaa Matbaren looks a lot better !