Cowgirl and the West Village

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Friday evening, I found myself wandering the streets of West Village. The West Village is my favorite neighborhood in New York City ... it offers the quaintness of a smaller city with all the conveniences of a metropolis as New York City. 

The weather was so beautiful on Friday that I could not let it slip away without enjoying a bit of sunlight and a taste of the hot breeze that will surely come in June, July and August. The same idea seemed to be everyone else's mind, because the streets were bustling and outdoor cafes filled with people-watchers. It's been a while since I've been back here, probably close to a year. Every time I head below 23rd street, the crowd seems to grow more and more hipster. This is probably just a sign that I am getting older and older, really. For a few blocks around West 4th and Perry, everyone looked like someone, which means they all looked like they were visiting from Los Angeles, by way of South Dakota, Ohio, Arizona or wherever the newest starlets come from. This concerned me.

Stopped into one of the gazillion Marc Jacobs retail spaces he now owns (about 10% of West Village, it seems) to pick up a new wallet but alas, I could not find what I was looking for, for the gazillionth time. (As a side note, I've always hated the cramped MJ spaces in New York City and preferred dropping by the Newbury Street location when I've been in Boston ... but the Boston location was sorely lacking in inventory when I last stopped in in October.)

Saw that the line was blissfully nonexistent at the original Magnolia Bakery (still the best in the city, from what I can tell), so dropped by for an elusive lemon cupcake and a classic vanilla. Sugar Sweet Sunshine, Billy's, Crumbs, Two Little Red Hens ... I've had them all and no one comes close in richness and pure density of cake. It is pure decadence to me to have a cupcake you can sink your teeth into, particularly one that is moist. Delicieuse.

Afterwards, we bummed around for a bit, stopping in stores selling all sorts of knickknacks before finding our way to Cowgirl (519 Hudson Street), a restaurant I'd stumbled across a few years back while taking a gelato break on Cowgirl's strategically placed park bench.

The space is fun, the clientele young and bubbly. The service is slow as honey, though. We shared guacamole and chips after being given complimentary white bean salsa (different and pretty good) and chips. The guacamole was heavy on the avocado and light on the lime, but the onion and tomato flavors were good. I ordered the turkey burger (with chipotle mayo and avocado slices) with a side of sweet potato fries, and my dining companion had the chicken quesadilla. I did not get to try her quesadilla, but it was MASSIVE. Texas-sized would not begin to describe its sheer size. I felt as if I were back in Austin, brunching at The Omelettry with its gigantic omelets that come with short stacks of amazing pancakes. Mmm, yes.

My burger was massive in its own right. Let's just say the burger outmeasured the diameter of the brioche bun surrounding it. I had to construct my burger, as they provided half an avocado, several rings of red onion, a couple slices of tomato, some lettuce and pickles. The chipotle mayo had little-to-no flavor, so I substituted it with some Cholula sauce (possibly my favorite condiment). The meat was tender, not dry but not juicy by any means. I barely finished half the burger and had the remainder packed to go. The sweet potato fries were delicious, and it came with an odd creamy cinnamon honey pecan sauce that was good, but odd as a complement to a burger. My dining companion thought the fries were the highlight of the meal, however.

The patrons beside us had a birthday and the restaurant staff caused quite a hullabaloo bringing out a slice of cake for her. My advice is unless you're an extrovert and enjoy all eyes on you, don't celebrate your birthday at Cowgirl or let the staff know that you are celebrating, because soon the entire world will know. Later patrons ordered what I believe were Arnold Palmers, and I could smell the lemon from a table over. If I ever return, that's the first thing I'm ordering. Overall, a decent meal but ultimately pretty forgettable. I would return to sate a Southern food craving -- the pulled pork sandwich and chili with cornbread both sounded kind of promising.

And then on my walk home, a car passed blasting "Heartbreaker" by Mariah Carey and I could have started dancing in the street, right there, but I remembered the heat was fleeting. But spring comes tomorrow!

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