Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lunching On 10th Street - Cowboy Star

These meals are mostly from around January and February of this year when I originally had the idea of a Lunching On 10th Street series only to post my first on Pokez then manage to completely neglect it for four months..

The series was to share my lunch experiences using the relatively quick 10th Street artery into downtown SD. Of course this bit is only useful if you don't already work in the area.. But anyway for these visits I took the route via Southbound 163 where the particular stretch of the freeway around Balboa Park is not only very beautiful but also ends and conveniently transitions into becoming 10th. Pass Pokez (and the parked police cruiser) and in about two blocks I would start looking for an open meter spot. I found it is best to find one before you reach The Cowboy Star because parking gets exponentially worse pass Market St.

A very hip modern ranch decor complete with some great Johnny Cash humming in the background. I ended lunching at the bar for all the visits. My very cool bartender Garth recommended me the Bison Burger ($12). It was nothing short of fantastic..

A thick hand-formed patty was lightly pre-seasoned with some southwestern type spices. I thought it did a great job of bringing out the lean but excellently moist and meaty flavor of the ground buffalo. With the roasted anaheim peppers and cumin mayo, my side of ketchup would be reserved only for the fries.. For me the sign of a great burger.

In fact I had this burger twice during separate visits. Both times medium rare and both excellently juicy with awesome grill marks.

One day I had my mind set on the Crab BLT ($14).

I'm not sure why but I first imagined it to be a fried soft-shell crab type deal but it turned out to be a salad sandwich with a good amount of lump crab meat. The melted smoked cheddar quick under the salamander was a nice touch and boy were those heirloom tomatoes bloody ripe! I remember tasting it more than the pancetta (so technically a "PLT"?).

Probably unfair to compare it with that Bison Burger but I'd say a nice alternative for me if in the mood again.
I had the soup ($8) once and at the time served was squash if I remember right. The current menu says Potato Bisque.

Very good as expected with some bacon lardoons and small dollop of chive crème fraîche but a complementary bread basket would've been nice (which I feel true for the lunch meals here in general).

During this time CS had been updating their lunch menu and I remember being reminded of one of the newer items unexpectedly one morning when the very first image that I witnessed when I awoke from bed was a wild turkey being shot on some hunting channel. I flicked the remote, the monitor warmed up and then - BANG!

My very next thought was.. "I think I'll go to The Cowboy Star today and try that Duck Confit!"

Amazingly tender with still a lot of integrity in the meat and not the least bit oily as one may expect something poached in its own fat. The skin was rendered perfectly and grilled to a crisp as served. The excellent bordelaise made me want to lick the plate squeegee it with a piece of bread afterward. Again a complementary roll of some kind would've been nice with. I think I have a relatively average appetite for a 6' dude and the portion of the entire meal including the mashed potatoes and baby turnips fared just a tad under adequate considering it was a $17 lunch. Excellent but proved to be a bit splurgy for me and I blame that wild game hunting program that morning (at 7:30AM??).

The Stuffed Mushrooms ($8) seem small but packs a punch (cream cheese, spinach and bacon!). I was glad for the additional blanched spinach and probably best to share.

Last I had the Grilled Steak Sandwich ($14). Adding bleu cheese will be another $2 but the idea sounded a bit overpowering and so decided without.

Had it grilled to a medium rare and chose the spring mix salad as a side to help me feel less guilty. The caramelized onions together with the horseradish cream and arugula was really something I can sink my teeth into.. :)

I forgot to ask the cut that was used sorry. I know their Petite Steak changes daily and this may be the case with the sandwich as well. I had also had this when the new lunch menu wasn't completely finalized. One thing for sure is that it isn't the $9 rib eye steak sandwich special I had recently at a local cafe, ha.. (Will post on it eventually.) Obviously a stratosphere above but the portion again was a tad on the smaller side for me. I probably should've had it with the fries after all. And if on a Friday maybe even with that Manhattan that Bruce (the other super cool bartender) had mentioned..

Lunching at The Cowboy Star was a really nice change of pace. Definitely great for a casual business lunch or meeting up with old friends to catch up with times.

And for dinner, perfect in bringing your out of town guests (below my awesome family visiting me from Japan back in December)..

I would guess anyone with a map can figure out my third and final 10th St. destination would be Basic.. Hopefully that won't take me another four months to get to. :)

The Cowboy Star, 640 Tenth Ave., San Diego, CA 92101


cabcooks said...

This place sounds/looks worth the trip to downtown. It's been a fairly long time since we've gone to eat down that way. So maybe it's time and you've given me the perfect reason. Thanks, Dennis!

Dennis K. said...

Hi cabcooks, they're definitely on the pricey side but a great place to take people (that loves red meat, mmm). :)

meemalee said...

Q: What's the difference between a bison and a buffalo?

A: You can't wash your hands in a buffalo.

Heh,heh :)

Dennis K. said...

Ha, good one! :)

Actually you made me look it up!
bison vs. buffalo

Masa Assassin said...

Awesome pics Dennis you have me craving that burger so much. A few months back I went on a Burger hunt but I never tried Cowboy Stars, it looks great.

Dennis K. said...

Hi MA, thanks! The lighting actually wasn't very good at the bar despite it being next to the open patio. Anyway, I think the burger is a pretty good deal for $12.

Sawyer said...

you sir, are a baller. that burger looks so good...been wanting a good burger for along time...will have to check this place out next time i'm down. i've been wanting some stuffed mushrooms too. maybe this weekend is the time to try to make some.

Dennis K. said...

Hey Sawyer how's it going?! Haha.. I should post some of my dinners at home too. Mainly instant noodles to offset my lunches or skipping it all together. :)