Well, I may have to create a new category... “Just Right” should be reserved for places that are true to their setting and have a history, generally being in place for many years, a long part of the community. So, kind of like “Zee Best Café”, “The Cow and the Fish” doesn’t exactly fit my definition of “Just Right”. Maybe if they survive another decade or so, they might qualify. So maybe something like “just fine” which might reflect a newer place that provides good food with acceptable service. If so, the Cow and the Fish would certainly sit at the top of that list, with Zee maybe under that, and we can begin to explore more candidates.
So anyway, the “Just Right” team assembled Friday at the Cow and Fish north on 235 a bit from town. A very nice sign marks the place
Theat location has had a few incarnations before the C&F folks took over. I think it was a Capt something, maybe a deli before that. Not really a great location. It is kind of a difficult place to find the first time, and you are very likely to drive right by it: “Hey! …there it was!” and do a kind of hazardous U – turn farther up. I must admit I have never been in the space under previous owners, so don’t have much of a gage of what they have done this time. Whatever it is, the latest occupants have done a very nice job of creating an inviting, albeit sparse space just inside the door, with a seating area and a bar.
Although I never saw the last half, the first part of the name is carried out tastefully in decoration
I never did see the piscine equivalent (if there is one)
Seating is mostly along the wall, with other of the nine tables distributed along the narrow space. Again minimal treatment, no linens, at least for lunch service
The owners have a (culinary) background from Europe, mostly from Spain where the Chef earned his culinary degree in Girona. Oddly enough, he was born in SOMD and spent some time on the Georgia Tech football team (not inside info, it’s on their menu). They purport to love Mediterranean cuisine, although as of yet, it hasn’t translated to the menu.
We were greeted at the door by the Hostess/lady part of the owners (?) who had what I will call a German accent. As MFO would attest, I am awful at placing accents, and what I may think is German often turns out to be Russian, some version of Slavic, or something else. Anyway, she is very pleasant, and the (only) server (who also had an accent, MAYBE a daughter?) took us to one of the tables along the wall. Two on the bench, and chairs on the other side.
There is a blackboard with specials in the waiting area, but it is not visible once you’re seated, so take note if you’re interested. We were seated by the young lady who did an acceptable form of the speech, “I’m …. And I’ll be your server”, and asked about drinks. The do have a full bar available, but I stuck with H20 (for once). The menus are a (two sided) single sheet encased in a flimsy page protector as opposed to the more common laminated variety. I would hope/suppose that allows for changes without great cost.
Apparently an “all in one” menu as lunch and dinner options on the same sheet. I would have to be honest here (as I always try to be) that despite the claim to be “bringing a taste of Europe to Southern Maryland”, it is not evident on the menu. Maybe the other way around, as most of the selections are the standard burgers, Crab cakes and sandwiches, Philly sub, salads, Chicken or Shrimp Alfredo, etc. Dinner expands the options to steaks (Cow):, flat iron (a nice variation), strip, and a Surf and Turf (C&F) of a flat iron with shrimp. The (Fish) portion offers grilled Salmon, Crab Cakes, or Scallops. There is a standing house special of a “Sandie” which consists of a steak with a skewer of shrimp and scallops. Prices of everything are under twenty five dollars. Again, there are daily options which may contain more eclectic dishes. Probably can’t read this in the blog, but it will give you the idea (I cautiously removed the protector to get rid of highlights)
As for our lunch, I ordered a special of fried (local) perch with a side (always have to choose a side in SOMD; French fries, veggie du jour, or spinach sautéed in garlic). The other members of the team ordered burgers. As we sat and chatted, I of course watched other dishes come out from the kitchen, all of which were pleasing to the eye, and seemed to be plentiful. Even though it was lunch time, I was surprised (and pleased) to see several orders of Mussels being served.
When one orders a “side salad” as part of your menu choice, especially at lunch, one would expect your main dish to be plated with a little pile of greens to the side. Well, here is how the “side” salad arrived by itself, before the main dish was served.
A very pretty presentation, nicely assembled, and I thought the “compass point” halved cherry tomatoes were a clever touch. Dressings were served on the side and yes, Blue Cheese WAS an option. The greens were very fresh, crunchy, and provided a good start to the lunch. My fish arrived a bit before finishing, but that may have been my timing, not theirs. And look how nicely they were presented – could have been the ubiquitous red plastic basket, but no, a tasteful triangular wire affair
The perch were just "set" (no mushy, not dry) inside of the hot, crunchy coating that had a little touch of some spice (NOT OLD BAY) that I couldn’t identify. The Feeder unfortunately is as adept at identifying spices as accents. But whatever, they were very enjoyable
The burgers were not your run of the mill grilled patty, but instead looked to be a hand crafted patty of considerable size, draped with your choice of cheese (perfectly melted), tomato and lettuce, and the “fries” for the choice
Both owners of the burgers remarked independently “Wow, this is good”. How often do you hear an extemporaneous endorsement of a burger! Both eventually had to resort to knives and forks to finish as the juice from the meat finally overcame the strength of the bun.
Water “glasses” (no comment) served with lemon without a requrest
Were kept full, the server occasionally checked by visually, and in the end asked if we were through (no “werkin’ on that?”) before clearing the plates. By the time we left, there were maybe six other tables for her to watch, and we never felt neglected nor coddled. Just fine. My total (no alcohol) bill was under ten dollars.
I thought the food was excellent. I will definitely plan to return for dinner. On the way out, I asked the Hostess if they took dinner reservations, and they do. If word spreads (and dinner matches the lunch quality) I would say you should book.
So a very pleasant experience; much better than I expected. Go! and at dinner be sure to
Clarification: based on a comment from a loyal reader, my description of the veteran at the book sale was in no way meant to be critical nor disrespectful. We couldn't enjoy our lives without their selfless service for us.