I have to admit–any restaurant with “cowboy” in the name sort of scares me. I’m not a fan of cowboy culture or what I’d traditionally associate with “cowboy food”–dead animals, goopy beans, etc. So when I went to Cowboy Ciao for a work dinner, I was a little apprehensive about the menu but was pleasantly surprised at how decent the meal was. Not to mention, the ambiance wasn’t all Western-themed at all–it was modern and classy, with more European influence than anything.
We ate in the back room reserved for large parties, and our servers were friendly and attentive throughout the meal. To start, I had the Stetson chopped salad ($12), which normally comes with smoked salmon, pearl couscous, arugula, dried sweet corn, bruschetta tomatoes, trail mix and a pesto buttermilk dressing. I opted to leave the salmon off. The portion was tiny, but the remaining ingredients made for such a fun and interesting combination of tastes and textures. I loved the crunchy corn, which went really well with the dressing. I opted to mix everything together, even though the ingredients were originally separated, and the only complaint I have is that I wish there had been more of it.
For my main course, I had the Exotic Mushroom Pan Fry ($24), which came with polenta, mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado and cheese, drenched in a delicious ancho chile cream. I thought the mushrooms were amazing, but I’m not a huge fan of polenta, which I passed on to my dining companions. They said it was wonderful, so if you like polenta, you’ll probably like this. My favorite part was the ancho chile cream, which had just the right amount of spice to it and complemented the other ingredients well.
I paired my meal with a tasty mojito, but someone else ordered a bacon-garnished cocktail that I had to take a picture of. Seriously, why is bacon such a big trend?! Poor pigs.
Other people noshed on Stuffed Pork Rib Chops ($27) with blue cheese, ancho bread pudding and raisin/fig compote,
while others dug in to Grilled Salmon ($29), with poblano cakes and tomatillo relish. The dishes looked pretty, and I didn’t hear any complaints about the rest of the food.
Dessert was so delicious, I would go to Cowboy Ciao just for after-dinner drinks and dessert. We had Ricotta Cheesecake ($8), with a strawberry/orange blossom compote and honey. Every bite was creamy and fruity and melted in your mouth–just how cheesecake should be. Mmmmmm.
So, don’t judge Cowboy Ciao on its name. The menu includes everything from a New Zealand Lamb Loin to bruschetta and enchiladas–not exactly stuff you’d expect to see cooking around a campfire. And with candlelit tables and chandeliers gracing the ceilings, the eatery is way prettier than a dusty old saloon, too.