Food & Drink » Dining Reviews

Don't have a cow



Holy Cow Pub & Grill is a fine place to party. A stage with guitars hanging among the ceiling lights fills one wall, while a half-moon bar offering libations in 16-, 24- and 110-ounce sizes lines the other. The open and well-lit space gives families a place to relax while still catering to folks who think a big-breasted bovine with a serious schoolgirl vibe makes for a pretty neat logo.

But if you're hitting the Holy Cow's eats, make sure it's a Tuesday: The pints are only $2, and you'll need some serious beer goggles to overlook the flavor snubs in this pub's grub, a disappointment since co-owner Heath Schafer describes his kitchen team as three people with "extensive high-end" experience.

The Cowsadillas ($6.39) provide a prime example: Billed as being stuffed full of Monterey Jack and American cheese, the tortillas arrive large and flat and bland and boring. Included sides of sour cream, salsa and jalapeños help some, but meat costs extra, even though it's the only way to truly upgrade the dish into something beyond an internal beer sponge.

A Philly cheese steak ($9.99) loses even more in the menu-to-table translation: Supposedly, American, provolone, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses bubble among the peppers and onions, but the only cheese I can see on the dry, Steak-umm-esque sandwich — that otherwise offers a nice chewy roll — is a spotty opaque dabbling of flavorless goo.

Several eponymous items make appearances. The Holy Cow beer ($4.75/16-ounce; $6.25/24-ounce) comes basically as a repackaged Leinenkugel's unfiltered wheat, with huge notes of anise, while the Holy Cow burger ($12.99) is just huge, with three patties totaling 2 pounds. It comes juicy and cooked-to-order, if almost physically impossible to eat due to its size — a condition Schafer plans to worsen by swapping the top and bottom buns for individual grilled cheese sandwiches.

An eight-ounce sirloin ($10.99) surprises with its tenderness, though it's also a little fibrous with connective tissue. Also good: the fried mozzarella ($7.49), with a lightly sweet, donut batter-like coating covering up some thinness in the cheese region.

Weaker chicken wings ($7.99) and sliders ($8.69) continue the thin spin. Described as "jumbo" on the menu, the otherwise standard-tasting wings look average-sized at best, though with a nice, tangy heat; the three smallish sliders are moderately overcooked and otherwise uninspiring, despite a lukewarm onion ring and a decent liquid-smoke-filled mayonnaise.

For our final sampled savory option, the baby back ribs ($10.99/half; $17.99/full) taste pretty decent. Not a ton of bark on top, and not the most tender, but a good sauce full of honey and brown sugar helps make up the difference.

Lastly, just skip dessert. Our server offered three different flavors of cheesecake ($4.29) before finding one — blackberry — the restaurant had in stock, and it wound up being perhaps the most foul confectionery dish I've ever had the horror to try. The bite of smooth triangular cream quickly lumped into curds of squeaky bubblegum, both in flavor and consistency. Consider it the final clash in a discordant symphony of mostly one-note bar food.

Holy Cow may be a hell of a place to spend a Friday night — or even fight night, with no cover during Ultimate Fighting Championship fights — but its menu is a far cry from heaven.

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