photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The Cow image

The Cow


Notting Hill

$$$$Perfect For:Catching Up With MatesDate NightBig GroupsPeople Watching


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Every London pub is full of characters—some loud, some questionable, and some selling stolen steaks from Tesco—but The Cow is one of those drinking holes where every character looks like they could be a someone. Maybe it’s because it’s a Notting Hill institution, maybe it’s because Messrs Beckham and Ramsay are known to enjoy a pint of the black stuff here. Or perhaps it’s because there’s a feeling of mischief seeping out from every floorboard of its Americana-feeling saloon bar and red dining room. Whatever it is, The Cow is a scene that you can’t help but want to be a part of.

If you’re of a vampiric nature, taking cover in The Cow’s saloon bar will be a big draw. It’s dark and a little dingy, but not the bad kind. More the chic, Kate-Moss-in-the-noughties kind, and most people use these stools and the booths out front for good, old-fashioned pint sinking. But wander further down the room and you’ll find more going on. There’s a counter steeped with ice for fresh oysters (that you should definitely order) and, at the back, a bus-wide space for procrastinating long lunchers, solo locals with a paprika-heavy fish stew, or couples sharing heavenly banoffee pie. As far as boozy lunches or low-key pub dinners go, this is one in the top-tier.

The Cow image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Upstairs the vibe is a little different. White tablecloths, natural light, and pops of scarlet from the floor and the banquettes. It’s more proper in the sense that the chairs have backs, but there’s an innate feeling of fun rather than formality. If we’ve ever wanted to be locked in a room and had the key thrown out—preferably when west London’s most glamorous and beautiful guests are playing footsie under the table or popping another bottle— this may well be it. Particularly when The Cow’s NSFW chicken kiev is involved. Squirting garlic butter is, after all, best kept behind closed doors. Admittedly, not all of the food is noteworthy. House terrine tastes a little too refrigerated, and the heavy spicing on the fish stew means that its can be an overwhelming bowl for one person. 

But, anything too perfect or too pristine wouldn’t fit The Cow. It is, after all, a pub-cum-bar with a dining room. One that’s endearingly ramshackle in some ways and extremely well put together (like most of its clientele) in others. It’s been here since 1995: shucking oysters, pouring impeccable pints of Guinness, and making hearty food people want to eat. That’s a combination that every type of character can get on with.

Food Rundown

The Cow image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The Cow Special

Any establishment with a special of six Jersey Rock oysters and a pint of Guinness is our type of establishment. Both of these are essential at The Cow, owing to the fact they treat them with the utmost care and attention.
The Cow image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

La Terrine Maison

This a perfectly adequate terrine with a punch-in-your-face, prune-heavy chutney. It’s a little too chilled and therefore a little meek in deep meaty flavour. Fine, but nothing to write home about.
The Cow image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Chicken Kiev

On the bone kiev is a true feat and this one is something special. Unlike lesser kievs, this one is explosive in the amount of garlic and parsley butter it has inside. No surprises then that it’s moist AF. Super smooth mash and a box-ticking pile of spinach make this a must-order plate of food.
The Cow image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The Cow Fish Stew

There’s a lot of oomph in this namesake stew. There’s the giant crouton with a rouille, packing a whack of paprika and chilli on top. The soup itself—a volcanic orange with mussels, prawns, and white fish bobbing about—is similarly smoky and fiery. It’s nice, but you’ll want to share it.
The Cow image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Banoffee Pie

Banoffee pie. You see it on the menu and you can’t not order it. At least, we can’t resist. This banoffee pie, we’re pleased to report, is the best, yes the best, we’ve ever had in London. The banana is piled high on top, the caramel is light and mousse-like, and the biscuit is easy to break through but still with just the right amount of crunch.

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