Fight Back Against The Cold At The Country Cafe
I don’t know if you noticed, but winter arrived. I’m not quite sure when exactly, but I distinctly remember the biting cold of the wind sweeping through any number of skyscraper-formed wind tunnels and catching my swiftly frozen ass completely off guard. I would let out a meek moan, turn my shoulder into the gust, and do my best not to slump over in submission to Jack Frost. That’s when I know it’s time to find some kind of piping hot liquid to pour down my gullet and warm me from the core. Soup is a very popular choice, of course, but to me it’s just not enough. There’s a reason why soup is almost invariably paired with a sandwich. It just doesn’t cut it. No, what I need is something meaty, something manly, something that makes me want to wear flannel and cut down trees. I’m in the mood for beef stew.
The place that has come recommended to me for beef stew time and again is The Country Café and it was high time I checked this place out. It’s located in the public space accessible from either Pine St. or Wall St. between William and Pearl Streets, right next door to Deutsche Bank. Inside there’s a decent sized plaza with tables and plenty of seating. If you can maneuver your way into one of the tables, don’t get up until you’re ready to leave. Those things are valuable real estate as many of them are taken up by chess players during the lunch hour. The Country Café is located right in the middle on the east side of the space, if you’re good with directions. If you’re not, it’s on the side with all the shops.
The stew comes in a decent sized bowl, nothing shockingly large or small. You have the option of adding a side, though I’d be wary of what you add. It’s a dollar more with the side, coming out to $5.95 ($6.45 with tax) and in my stupor of nostalgia for how my mom used to make beef stew, I added white rice. A solid choice, normally, but I think if I had to choose between a full bowl of stew or a bowl half stew, half rice, I’d go for the all stew bowl to get the best bang for my buck. You also get a piece of bread on the side (you’ll get a choice, but they only had whole wheat by the time I got there), so there’s really no reason to get two carb items.
My meal was mighty tasty and exactly what the doctor ordered on a brisk winter’s day like the ones we’ve seen this week. The gravy tasted like it was tomato based, but had some herby tones with a good shot of beefiness. While I wouldn’t say it was the greatest known to mankind, it did well to doctor up my rice a bit. I got my fair share of veg as well, with a healthy dose of potato, carrot, peas, corn, and the odd tomato. But let me tell you, this stew was all about the beef. Big meaty chunks, and plenty of â€˜em. There was no digging around looking for the beef. It was there in full force, nicely tender (some pieces more than others) but still with a bit of firmness so as to hold its shape. It seemed to be a decent quality too. I kept waiting to find the one grizzly piece that always ends up in my bowl, but it just wasn’t there.
I don’t consider myself a stew aficionado by any means. I’d be more prone to pick up a can of Dinty Moore than go through the trouble of actually trying to construct this dish on my own. But this was a good stew. It lacked a little something in the gravy department for me, but more than made up for it with the meat n’ potatoes of the dish. Kudos, Country Café. Kudos.
P.S. Don’t be fooled! There is a second location across the street on Pine Street, but they don’t serve the stew or any of the soups there!
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Firm, yet tender, just the way the beef should be
- There’s nothing like beef stew on a cold winter’s day
- Good food and a place to sit down outside the office, I’m snug as a bug in a rug
THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The gravy left something to be desired.
- The rice isn’t quite worth the extra dollar I paid for it.
- I prefer to eat at a table and all these chess nuts are making it pretty difficult
The Country Cafe, 60 Wall St. #3 (btw. William & Pearl), (212)797-6913