After visiting the Port of Leonardtown Winery (see Tasting at Port of Leonardtown Winery) on Friday evening, April 7, 2017, we drove 5.5 miles northeast to The Cow & The Fish restaurant (click here for their complete address, opening hours, and a map with driving directions to their location in Hollywood, MD). The restaurant is run by Chef Michael Chance and his wife Silvia (she told us they’ve been open just 18 months). They feature locally sourced steak and seafood (as if the name didn’t give you a hint, right?).
Chef Chance, a Southern-Maryland native, played football at Georgia Tech after which he went to Barcelona, Spain (where he met his wife) to join the Barcelona Dragons football team. He ended-up getting a culinary degree in Girona, in the Catalonia region of northeastern Spain. After 24 years in Europe the family returned to The States, and Chef Chance had a stint with Ruth’s Chris on his résumé (among other places, I think) before eventually returning to Southern Maryland and opening his own restaurant.
The Cow & The Fish fronts directly on northbound Three Notch Rd. (Rte. 235). From the outside, it is fairly nondescript with a brick façade; there is a large sign on the roof above the door, with their signature cow & fish cartoon, and another vertical sign at street level to the left of the building. There are few parking spaces, but we got lucky and found a spot near the entrance.
We were greeted by Mrs. Chance, who works the front of the house and spends a good bit of time behind the bar, managing the staff and helping customers. We decided to sit at the bar, rather than a table. From there, we could occasionally peer into the kitchen as the door swung to and fro, as well as chat with the staff while they worked.
A busy staff
The customers in The Cow & The Fish dining room were being helped by two veteran waitresses and one somewhat flustered young fellow who was just learning the ropes. All of the staff are behind the bar from time-to-time, passing along drink orders to Mrs. Chance (who comes out from behind the bar to greet diners and escort them to their seats), returning dishes, picking up drinks, etc. The kitchen entrance is behind the bar, with only one way out to the dining room, so all of the dishes being served passed in front of us, and between the other staff. The young man who was delivering everything was constantly weaving around his colleagues. Another young man, apparently the dishwasher, brought out clean items to stock under the bar from time to time. It’s a tight space they work in, but their movements are well-coordinated.
From the occasional glance we got through the swinging kitchen door, it looks like a pretty cozy space as well. From time to time, you can spy the Chef plating dishes with great care and finesse. Every single one of the dishes coming out of the kitchen looked awesome.
Placing our orders
After climbing atop our bar stools, we placed a cocktail order, with Cindy ordering her usual Tanqueray Martini, and I asked for a Manhattan. Mrs. Chance then gave us menus, and told us about that evening’s specials. We chatted with her while she made our drinks, and those for other diners.
After looking over the menus, we decided on their most popular appetizer: crab balls. For our main courses, we also both selected items from the evening’s specials: Cindy asked for the blackened rib-eye steak (medium rare), with mushrooms and french fries on the side. I ordered the Asian duck and satuéed shrimp, with grilled zucchini and a baked potato.
Enjoying the food & drink
The crab balls (which I somehow managed to forget to take a picture of), were wonderful. They are fried and about 1.5″ around, and come four to a serving on a long, narrow platter. They have an aïoli sauce on the platter, but we were also offered cocktail and tartar sauces as an option. I got some tartar sauce, but it really wasn’t necessary — they are delicious just as they are served. We could have probably made a meal out of just several orders of those. But, we had other food coming, so managed to control ourselves.
We had to wait a little while for our main courses, as the restaurant was pretty busy and, as I noted above, the kitchen is on the small side. What to do, what to do? OK, another round of drinks. Cindy asked for a Cabernet and I ordered another Manhattan. Mrs. Chance, though, having heard about our attending a wine tasting earlier in the evening, asked Cindy if she’d like to try a Spanish wine instead of a Cabernet, to which Cindy readily agreed; since she was having steak, Mrs. Chance recommended a 2014 Emilio Moro (made in the Ribera del Duero region of northern Spain). Cindy liked it, and I did, too.
Dinner is served
Our main courses were finally served. Out came the steak and mushrooms for Cindy, and the duck and shrimp with zucchini for me. Cindy’s fries and my baked potato (with sour cream and butter on the side) soon followed.
Cindy’s steak (there’s the cow part of the meal) was cooked perfectly and the portion was huge. As soon as it was set in front of her, we were pretty sure that a lot of it was going home with us at the end of the meal (it did). My duck and shrimp (OK, it’s poultry & seafood, but the shrimp can stand-in as fish for this meal) were also cooked quite nicely. Cindy enjoyed a few of her potatoes, and I ate my whole baked potato.
Cindy’s steak was delicious (I didn’t try the mushrooms, as I’m not terribly fond of fungus), and so was my shrimp and duck. Are you sensing a theme here? Chef Chance really knows how to cook.
While watching dishes come out of the kitchen, we had seen some very tasty looking desserts go by, so we asked what our options were. The waiter told us there were three: carrot cake, cheesecake, and Italian lemon cream cake. They do not make their own desserts, but try to obtain the best ones they can. We ordered the Italian lemon cream cake to share (with the addition of some raspberry sauce), and it proved to be the perfect ending to the meal, as it was light and very flavorful.
We recommend The Cow & The Fish
This was a great meal. Cindy and I agreed it was one of the best meals we’ve had in a while. We just wish the restaurant wasn’t 45 minutes from our house. For those of you who live down that way, I hope you can make it a regular dining spot — we highly recommend the restaurant. We look forward to getting back down there, hopefully sooner rather than later. ♦