it never changes,” says owner Rick Sleeper. “The barn has
been the whole nut of the place. We try not to become too
checked in with the Cock ’n’ Bull every decade or so and are
pleased to report that it hasn’t changed—at least, not all
that much. The menu has been refined and simplified, but the
specials board sports a changing array of fancier entrées.
That’s also where the appetizers are listed.
that list is one thing that hasn’t changed throughout the
restaurant’s history: Pickled herring ($5.50) is one of the
most popular starters. “Our head chef, Michael Staber, is
the nephew of the original owner,” says Sleeper, “and the
family was part of a strong Lithuanian-Polish community in
the city of Amsterdam. Pickled herring was a tradition that
I hope will always be popular here.”
has been chef since 1976, which puts him there almost from
the beginning. While keeping the emphasis on a familiar realm
of steaks and seafood, he has always found ways to explore
different presentations of the basics.
in 1987, I paid $9.75 for an order of chicken Josephine, which
was basted with Amaretto and orange juice. Grilled monkfish
sported a lemon-and-walnut cream sauce. Twelve years later
we were enjoying grilled chicken that had been marinated in
lime juice, honey, rum and ginger. This time out, we sampled
a dinner special of grilled mahi mahi with mandarin sesame
teriyaki sauce ($21), which placed a reasonable portion of
fish atop the dark, pungent accompaniment, finishing the plate
with a sautée of string beans and a portion of skin-on mashed
now seems an old-fashioned custom, you get a choice of starch,
including rice pilaf. And there’s a choice of salad—house
or spinach, the former a mix of greens and the usual vegetables,
the latter an impressive mound of baby spinach with those
traditional goodies: bacon, hard-boiled egg and sliced mushrooms
under a vinegary dressing.
seated at a solid wooden table, on a sturdy wooden chair,
surrounded by (no surprise here) the seasoned wood of an old,
well-decorated barn. Not a chain-restaurant re-creation. We
visited on an evening when parties were scattered among the
different dining areas, although there was enough daylight
left to make our seats by the rear patio doors attractive.
long been the case, only the entrées are listed on the two-page
menu. The appetizers and specials are inscribed on a number
of strategically-hung blackboards. The starters included that
good old Trader Vic’s chicken-liver-and-bacon dish called
rumaki ($4.50), clams as steamers or baked as Casino ($9 apiece)
and an unexpectedly good bruschetta ($8.50) that features
warm, garlicky tomato chunks and fresh mozzarella.
included spinach Italiano and chilled raspberry ($3.75 apiece)
as well as a $4.75 seafood bisque that was full of good seafood
morsels but still remained light and creamy.
entrée realm, you can have your salmon baked or grilled ($22),
or crusted with chopped nuts and fresh herbs with a lemon
cream sauce ($24). A pound of king crab is $24; a nine-ounce
Australian lobster tail $38. Sole strikes me as a fish that’s
eager to please, maybe too eager, and that’s why it’s so adaptable.
Here it was treated to a very rich finish by breading the
filet and serving it in a creamy Alfredo sauce thickened with
parmesan cheese ($19).
entrées start with the less-expensive: grilled Key West chicken
($17) and a grilled pork chop in an apple-cinnamon glaze ($19).
Then the steak parade starts. Sliced sirloin or sirloin teriyaki
gets you a twelve-ounce cut for $25. I went for the 18-ounce
Delmonico ($27), which was thick and tender and cooked to
a toothsome rareness. A 10-ounce filet mignon is $34, and
prime rib is offered Fridays and Saturdays for $23, $28 and
$34, according to your portion size.
they snare you with a list of homemade desserts. Of the many
cakes and pies that are offered, I chose one, Black Forest
cake ($6.50, and more chocolatey than I anticipated), that
I hadn’t sampled before—only to discover that it formed part
of both prior reviews.
affable staff made the visit all the more pleasant, and I
had a chance to meet the chef on my way out as he surveyed
the diners, making sure his work was appreciated. It was.
The restaurant serves for as long as the evening business
warrants staying open, so it’s always a good idea to phone