8801 Oak Street
New Orleans, LA 70118 (map)
Come and Get It –
New Orleans. How you’ve stepped up your game. While in town to see an Andrew Bird show, a few friends and I set out to find another recently lauded burger in the awesomely named Leonidas neighborhood near the Riverbend area. Cowbell is set up in what appears to be an old service station on the corner of Oak and Eagle. On a street like Oak it takes a lot for an eatery to stand out and Cowbell was voted as New Orleans’ Best New Restaurant in 2011 by Gambit. That’s good enough for me for another Big Easy Burger Tyme.
So on one of the more lovely South Louisiana Friday evenings, we meandered our way through the narrow, poorly paved streets. Luckily, we found a spot in the Cowbell parking lot, which seems to have a maximum capacity of four cars. All of the outside seating was full and we were told that the wait would be about a 30 minutes. Time was pressing as the show started in about an hour but having peered at other diners already enjoying burgers, we quickly confirmed that it would be worth the wait. True to expectations, we were seated outside after 25.
Ring My Bell –
Our server, wearing a vintage looking apron, was friendly and gladly answered our questions about duck fat fries and what ‘Agogo’ sauce is. She took our drink orders and quickly brought them out. Each burger comes with the usual toppings and fries. Anything extra, well, would be extra. I ordered mine with added american cheese, a farm egg, and bacon and onion compote. All added up this would be a $15 burger and fries. With our orders in we had time, lots of time, to chit chat and enjoy the weather and people watching. The servers remained attentive and friendly but it became a noticeably long wait. Three refills and another 25 minutes later, our burgers arrived.
Each basket was filled to the brim with the open face burger components and fries. At first glance, the vivid red of the tomatoes with the bright yellow of the melted cheese and the caramel brown of the buns made this a very appealing looking burger. Did I also mention that this burger was rather large? With a little effort I managed to fit the majority of the burger between the two potato roll halves, but only just. I took a bite and instantly was in heaven. This burger had it all. Sweet and savory onion and bacon compote. Buttery, crispy bun. Rich egg. Big beefy patty that was well seasoned. Perfectly melted cheese. Veggies with actual flavor. It was big, it was messy, and it was good! It was New Orleans incarnated in a burger. The fries were also pretty great. They were fresh cut, crisp, and tasted like they were fried in duck fat. The waitress was not able to confirm whether they were on not but they were good so I didn’t really press the issue.
The Wrap It Up –
It just got real. Thanks to places like The Company Burger and Cowbell, New Orleans is two for two in recent Burger Tymes. Cowbell has what I think is one of the tastiest burgers anywhere. It also is one of the priciest when you add in all of the extras. Burger & fries + drink + tip = roughly $20. That’s a lot to ask of the general burger eating public. However, on special occasions, or when I find myself craving this burger (like I am right now), I would pay that in a heartbeat. It was that good that it sticks in my memory like my 8th birthday. If in the area, and if you want a burger, and if you have the money, ring the bell.
PS – In case you were wondering, service at Cowbell did take a while, even for a Friday night, but we still made it to the show in time. All in all, a great evening.