The Cook’s Shop Redux

Where in Windsor can you find a restaurant with excellent food and service that’s been around for 40 years? The answer is the new old Cook’s Shop Restaurant. Spencer Dawson, took the reigns when the former owner retired from the business he started in 1980. The cozy dining room and Italian menu remain mostly the same, with a few minor changes to both. The old meat display case is gone but the natural stone walls and romantic setting remains the same.

The new owner introduced himself to Cathryn and I, taking the time to explain how he strived to keep fan-favorites on the menu, and brought in a few new recipes handed down by his grandmother. Her homemade bread was the first thing to knock our socks off – a sliced loaf that was crispy golden on the outside and a cornbread texture on the inside, served with a soft herb butter. The wine list covers all bases and quite reasonably priced.

We talked about Dawson’s idol, Lino, the previous owner, who just happened to grace us with his presence moments later. We were lucky enough to chat with both men and capture a few photos of the two most passionate restaurant owners I’ve ever met. Our Caesar salads were delivered on their departure from our table, the original recipe that Dawson said he had to retain in order to prevent a riot.

I forgot about the Escargot – large and tender snails served on a bed of mushrooms sautéed in garlic butter and served in phyllo pastry. We had time for another slice of bread before the salad. Our waiter, Moe, was Johnny-on-the-spot and never far from our table. I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara, with double smoked bacon, and asked to have it on the creamy side. Yep, more sauce to soak up with the bread. It was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had.

Cathryn ordered the Rack of Lamb, four thick portions stacked over a pea and mushroom risotto. Sitting on my hands was all I could do to resist snatching some while she was away from the table. It was juicy, tender, and cooked to perfection. Sadly, we couldn’t finish the last two pieces of bread. Our meals were quite generous in size.

Although we were both stuffed, I needed a pieced of cheesecake. They had two and I went for the salted caramel. Not too rich, it had the perfect combination of sweet and saltiness. We both loved every part of our meal and enjoyed the experience of meeting both the old and new regime. Giving the Cook’s Shop a 10 out of 10 was a no-brainer.

Watch for Dawson’s future plans, while he renovates the whole building, possibly adding another restaurant and living quarters above that.

Rants, Raves & Reviews – Capone’s Grill & Pasta Shop

front

Cathryn and I don’t get out for dinner much these days, mostly because many restaurants aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Who wants to pay forty bucks for a steak that’s not cooked to your liking or eat frozen veggies. Maybe it helps in our case that we both like to cook, and cook the way we like.

Not to say there aren’t any great restaurants in Windsor. Take the little Italian grill and pasta shop called, Capone’s on Wyandotte Street, in old Riverside. Owner John Fuerth is the restaurant’s first reason for success. He openly admits that he mimicked his favorite Italian restaurant, the Cook Shop, when he created Capone’s.

dinnerCathryn and I have eaten in both places and John hasn’t missed a beat. We were able to get a table on Friday night without reservations and were welcomed as if we were extended family. We started with the scallop appetizer special. They were plump, seared to perfection and served with a tasty reduction and veggie slivers.

Cathryn had the Chateau Briand and I ordered the carbonara with pancetta, asking for it to be on the creamy side. The wait wasn’t long and our meals were served piping hot from the kitchen that was only a few feet away (a very cozy place for the cooking staff). C’s filet was cooked exactly how she asked. I received a damn good sized bowl of pasta – easily the best carbonara I’ve had in many years.

desertFor dessert we had cheesecake that was made inhouse. It was not your normal triangle slab cut from a pie tin. It resembled a large scoop of ice cream, light and creamy, with no gram crust, and topped with blueberry sauce. OMG good.

Even with a decent bottle of  wine, our bill barely broke a hundred dollars. The same meal would have cost us almost double at the Cook Shop. John told us Lino recently retired and sold the downtown landmark. Not a problem for us since we’ve found our new favorite Italian eatery. Both C and I give Capone’s a 10 out of 10, and I think that’s the first time ever.