Raleigh, N.C. — There's pop culture a-plenty at Cowfish.
On the menu. On the walls. In the enormous fish tank (which was featured on Animal Planet’s Tanked). Everywhere you look at Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar in Raleigh’s trendy North Hills is a reference to pop culture images, symbols, and icons. So when it came time to sit down and write our review, we just couldn’t get ‘em out of our head.
Eating at Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar is like eating inside a pinball machine. It’s bright, it’s loud, chipper urbanites bounce off one another on the way to the bar (free ball!) and the bathroom (double bonus!), and everybody watches the big scoreboard, where their assigned cartoon fish get closer to the LCD surface while they wait—and wait and wait—to finally be seated (high score!).
But tune out the frenetic motion and noise and just groove on the burger, and you’ll be at the table all night. The Boursin Burger was a fine example of burgerdom. The patty was properly cooked with just a little char around the edges, and the garlic and herb boursin cheese added a nicely sharp counterpoint, though the grilled onions were overpowering, and I ended up removing them.
All in all, a rock solid 3.75.
Pete Best, as you know, was the Beatles’ original drummer. There’s lots of debate about why he was sacked—maybe he was too conventional for John, too quiet even for George, or just too good-looking for Paul’s liking—but whatever it was, he just wasn’t quite right.
Of the burgers we ordered at Cowfish, the Black Truffle Cheese Burger was the Pete Best of the group. While my fellow burgiatrists found at least some greatness in their burgers, I couldn’t help but feel that despite the promise, mine wasn’t quite right. The cheese covered only about half of the burger, there wasn’t quite enough roasted garlic aioli, and the overall taste was inconsistent at best. I’m willing to give Cowfish another try, with the hopes of getting a Ringo.
Michael’s review: 3.5
Think of Elvis—but the 1975 Elvis. Very good, very entertaining, but perhaps more than you could—or wanted—to handle. That’s how I felt after eating The Arnold Hamandegger at the Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. It wasn’t the fault of the patty, which had a nice flavor and was cooked to temp. It wasn’t the fault of the egg, which was cooked perfectly so that its yolk broke on impact, showering the burger with yellowy goodness. Maybe it was the grilled onions…or the bacon…or the Black Forest ham…or the “Cowfish sauce”…or just the overall combination of all these things that brought me to the verge of the meat sweats after eating this hunka-hunka burning love.
Don’s review: 3.75
I’m about to break a rule—kind of.
The Straight Beef does not allow non-burger variables like atmosphere, art, or service to influence its ratings. A burger is what the burger is, be it served at Versailles or Penn Station. But I gotta say: The décor at Cowfish—with its burger-themed send-ups of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Broadway, and anime—is pretty darn amusing. So much so, in fact, that I couldn’t help but question whether I was enjoying the burger, which struck me at the time as downright solid, just a teensy bit more for the beef-in-cheek visuals. It’s likely that I’ll never know.
Scott’s Review: 4.0
Scott Blumenthal, Michael Marino, Chad Ward and Donald Corey are The Straight Beef, professional burgiatrists who review, rate and rank Triangle-area burgers on their award-winning blog. You can read more about The Straight Beef, including their education and scholarship, ratings system, and burger categorization method here.