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SF

Review

Emma Shepler

Cow Marlowe

$$$$
Written by
Emma Shepler

Everywhere you look at Cow Marlowe you’ll notice groups of people eating, drinking, and generally enjoying themselves. Tables of friends from college discussing a big trip to Bali that will never materialize. An office marketing department having a brainstorming session. A triple date sharing drinks over dinner because they for some reason think that couples always have to hang out with other couples. They’re all here because everything about this brasserie in Cow Hollow, from the wide-ranging menu to the multiple large dining rooms with big tables, is designed for these exact scenarios. And while it’s not the most exciting place to eat a meal in SF, if you’re just trying to get all of your friends together in one place on a weeknight, it’s a good one to consider.

Cow Marlowe is from the same people as Marlowe, Park Tavern, The Cavalier, and a few other places that fill the group brunch/dinner void. It even looks like it’s made from pieces of each of their restaurants. There’s the dark bar with deep-booth seating, a section covered in white tiles and mid-century lights that makes you want to know what the next cool plain white sneakers are going to be, and the side room with mounted animal horns and paintings of faithful hounds that would probably be in your hunting lodge if you spent a lot of time in New Hampshire.

The menu here is also similar to their other spots around the city. It’s a pretty classic mix of brasserie staples, like oysters, steak frites, and mushroom-topped polenta, that just about everyone you come here with should be into. And while things like the bone marrow and the burrata with fresh and bright green peas are good and reliable, nothing is over the top excellent - except for maybe the burger. It’s the same simple Marlowe Burger you’ve probably had before, with toppings like caramelized onions and bacon that are good enough to distract you from your group’s conversation about credit card rewards points. We’d come here just for this after a night out in the Marina, and on Fridays and Saturdays, they have a late-night menu until 1am where you can do just that.

For the most part, though, you should go to Cow Marlowe when you’ve finally figured out a night that all your friends can actually make it to dinner without anyone having to Skype in or hire a stand-in. It’s an attractive space where everyone can get together over some solid food, wine, and cocktails while you talk about how you haven’t done this in forever and that everyone should start making plans to take a group vacation to Aruba. And even if that trip to the Caribbean never happens, at least you can all sit together at Cow Marlowe.

Food Rundown

Crispy Brussels Sprout Chips

This is just the crispy leaves that usually get left behind in the pan of brussels sprouts, aka the best part, and they’re delicious. Order these.

Baked Oyster

These oysters baked with chowder in the shells are a fun idea and they’re pretty good. But when you think about it, it’s $3.50 for a single spoonful of chowder, which is kind of insane.

Little Gem & Wild Arugula Salad

With smoked salmon and fingerling potatoes cut into thin strips, tapenade, and what is basically the yolk of some deviled eggs crumbled up, this is much more like all the stuff left behind at a salad bar than a composed salad. And even if that’s your favorite way to eat raw greens, it’s really briny. Skip this one.

Marlowe Burger

This should be on your table no matter what. It’s a great, simple burger with caramelized onions, cheddar, bacon, and horseradish aioli to dip it in, which you should. And after you do, you know you’ll be back for this at some point.

Di Stefano Burrata

We’ve had this burrata with English peas, mint salsa verde, and grilled bread, but the toppings change. It’s good burrata and nice to split with a group.

Roasted Bone Marrow

Served with salsa verde, herbs, and toasted bread, this is a good, classic roasted bone marrow. If you’re into it, get it on your table.

Smokey Baked Cauliflower

This is mac and cheese posing as a vegetable, and we’re not complaining. Go for it.

Anson Mills Polenta

Creamy polenta buried under a ton of mushrooms and a soft-cooked egg. It’s a little heavy handed with the truffle salsa verde, but this is otherwise a great dish to split.

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