Acclaimed restaurateurs and entrepreneurs Stuart Bailey (nee Hussar Grill collection) and Michael Townsend (nee Harbour House Group) had always dreamed about opening a steakhouse; a restaurant with personality that served quality food in an authentic setting, at affordable prices. In other words: a steakhouse that strayed from the myopically corporate world they had both known for long.
Not wishing to compete with the myriad of other CBD and V&A Waterfront based restaurants that clamour for a share of the market, the duo looked further afield to the parts of the city that had, to that point, been neglected and untouched…the suburbs, specifically, Sunset Beach near Milnerton, Tableview, and Blouberg.
Bailey and Townsend saw the potential in the collection of suburbs here, packed with people, couples, and families who are tired of fast food and cookie cutter franchises. This side of the city, there is a paucity of quality and authentic restaurant to dine at; restaurants that are unpretentious, always good, have great service, and won’t set you back a week in wages.
This is the model with which Cowboys & Cooks was built.
Décor and ambiance
So many restaurants – particularly high-end establishments – can give guests a real sense of imposter syndrome. I, for one, have eaten off tablecloths far more expensive than my bed sheets and drank wine that could have paid for the month’s Internet bill. But while Cowboys & Cooks feels high end, it is so approachable that “regular folks” in the suburbs can actually make it their local go-to restaurant.
Cowboys & Cooks’ warm, welcoming interior is composed of hardwood floors, sultry carpets the colour of red wine, tan hide sofas and seating (probably faux but that’s a good thing, isn’t it?), and frame upon frame of atmospheric black-and-white photographs depicting people and eras that are long gone. The restaurant is rustic yet sophisticated; country yet chic; honest yet elegant; and comfortable yet beautiful to behold. It truly has a lovely aesthetic throughout that feels homey, honest, and authentic without a single compromise on quality of experience.
On the menu
Being a steakhouse, Cowboys & Cooks’ menu features the usual suspects but executed at an altitudinous calibre. Prior to ordering our mains, our waitress Phumeza delivered an outstanding mini-meat tutorial, acquainting the table with the different cuts of meats available so that each of us could make as educated a decision as possible.
Then, the starters rolled in and the table was laden with just about every starter dish on the menu, from creamy mussels, grilled calamari, and beef-battered onion rings to beef carpaccio, barbeque chicken wings, jalapeno poppers, and rich, melt-in-your-mouth bone marrow (served within their ossified encasings). Of special note were the grilled large brown mushrooms, which had been filled with feta cheese, garlic, and a medley of spices. Everything – and I mean everything – was absolutely divine!
For mains, we made à la carte selections, a no-brainer for me: 250 g medium rare rump steak and truffle mushroom sauce, which, you’d better believe, is as good as it sounds, served with sides of roasted butternut, creamed spinach, and French fries. At Cowboys & Cooks, only Chalmar beef is used, which is sourced from 100% grain-fed and free-range cattle and known for its quality, flavour, and desirable fat content (fat is flavour).
Just when you think you can’t possibly cope with any more food, the dessert menu gets placed discretely before you, seducing you like the siren’s song to order a creamy crème brûlée to satisfy that portion of your stomach that, somehow, always seems to remain empty no matter how much of a piglet you’ve been.
In terms of drinks, Cowboys & Cooks have put together an extensive and nicely varied wine list that also offers a good selection of magnum bottles – sheer genius in my estimation. They also serve a spectacular gin & tonic on tap, which is as beautiful to behold as it is to taste.
Make it your next meal
Cowboys & Cooks is a modern steakhouse with character and just a touch of the renegade spirit (where else do you think the name “Cowboys” comes from?) And since its opening in December 2018, it has been full almost every night: a testament to both the quality of experience it offers guests and the fact that there is a paucity of quality dining this side of the city. The food and service are infallible and the setting achieves the perfect balance between personality and sophistication. It’s also family, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly!
With over 44 years of combined experience between them, Michael Townsend and Stuart Bailey have, not surprisingly, started something incredible here that you simply have to experience for yourself.
Cowboys & Cooks is open Monday to Sunday, 12:00 to 02:00
For bookings and enquiries, call 021 879 1923