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Holy Cow

(Snow Patrol)

The Rare Cow – Writtle, Chelmsford

I have a very dear friend whose taste in food can best be described as ‘fussy’ – he doesn’t eat onion, tomato or garlic, which effectively rules out most exotic cuisines. Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican… are all off his radar.

So it was particularly challenging to find somewhere for dinner to celebrate my birthday.

And particularly exciting when I learned of ‘The Rare Cow’ in Writtle, that excitement increased when I realised that my birthday fell on a Monday, when the Rare Cow holds its ‘all you can eat’ “Steakfest”. Up to two hours of Steak, Chips, Onion Rings, Wine and Beer for twenty five quid – twenty if you download the voucher from their website (until mid-June 2014).

I booked a table for four people using Opentable (formerly TopTable) and then read the reviews on TripAdvisor. Accordingly it was with some trepidation that we pulled in to the car park.

I needn’t have worried, the booking was acknowledged on our arrival, and the discount voucher accepted with good grace. As has been described elsewhere on the interweb the décor is okay, sparse and modern, with amusing ‘cow’ prints on the walls, and a rather worrying pair of Shrek/Princes Fiona sculptures on the bar. The tables are maybe slightly closer together than is comfortable, but the main bar – where we were sat – wasn’t full, so no real problems. Music was eighties ‘classics’, bizarre.

There is a separate room, and that was full, with maybe twenty youngsters in there, so the kitchen was kept busy.

The ‘Steakfest’ deal gives you two hours of Steak, Chips, Onion Rings and Salad, along with house wine and small bottles of Carlsberg lager. And a ‘mini burger’ as a starter. There were four or five waiting staff working, and while they weren’t the most attentive waiting staff I’ve ever encountered, I’ve been served by worse. They kept the beers and the house wine flowing and, when reminded, brought more food.

As for the food itself, the mini-burger was very tasty, even if it looked a little forlorn in the middle of a vast white dinner plate.

Lonely little 'Rare Cow' starter burger - at Tolfalas.com

Lonely little starter burger

The Steak (I’m guessing it was Sirloin) was well cooked (medium rare) and well seasoned – perhaps a little over salted, but tasty nonetheless.

Plate of Steak at The Rare Cow - at Tolfalas.com

Plate of Steak

The chips were home made and a little soggy, the onion rings lightly battered – almost tempura batter, the side salad comprised rocket and spinach, with some sliced red onion and dressing.

Initially we were a little concerned; we arrived at seven, and had been told that the table was for two hours, okay we enjoyed the mini-burgers, but it was a full forty minutes before the first steak arrived. That said, over the next hour the four of us demolished four or five plates worth; each plate effectively contained a sirloin steak, sliced.

On reflection I think I’d give the steaks at least 4/5, the side dishes maybe 2/5, service 3/5, décor 3/5 overall 3.5

Rating: ★★★½☆

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