Lowe: Relaxed, Capable and Casual Dining
Lowe, 2 mains, 1 dessert, 1 sparkling water, 1 mocktail (AED255, US$69, £53, €59 excluding service). Lowe, KOA Canvas, Legends, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
tel. +971 43 201 890
Casual brunch and lunch spot with creative use of local ingredients
Broken wheat salad with crispy duck leg bowl is light comfort food
Generous community table for walk-ins (but reservations recommended)
The location will be divisive for some as it is a little off the beaten path
Unlicensed restaurant where some will want wine with small plates
Lowe: Not My First Visit
But first, a confession: this was not my first trip to Lowe. The last time I arrived just in time for a late lunch returning from Hatta Sedr Trailers with Mrs EatGoSee. I arrived just before the Dubai COVID lockdown kicked off and Lowe announced its temporary closure.
Torn, it felt inappropriate and, perhaps, irrelevant to write a review about a restaurant who’s future, to be honest, was unclear.
Lowe’s announcement that it would re-open offered reassurance.
However, it would not be an uneventful re-opening. I was deeply disappointed to read that, one day, a substantial number of diners failed to honour their reservation, unannounced. Kate Christou, co-owner, publicly chastised it – and rightly so. Social distancing in restaurants is more than just taking away tables – it is taking away profits. You do not let down a single person when you fail to turn up to a COVID-compliant restaurant. You fail the entire team of people, suppliers and others. It is an inefficiently brutal act of selfishness.
My return to Lowe is more than just to snuffle a late lunch and relive memories of my last visit; it is a positive act of support.
Lowe makes the case for better neighbourhood restaurants
There is nothing like being locked down and quarantined in your own house in sweats for weeks (upon months) to realise the subtle value of community.
Lowe: First Impressions
As usual, reservations are highly recommended but they do maintain a “community table” available for walk-ins.
Pops of green from suspended plants. A weighty corner bar that – alas – does not serve alcohol but churns out an imaginative mocktail selection such as the gooseberry hibiscus drink.
The decor reminds me of my travels to Iceland and Norway. The room is simple, feels natural and accentuates the giant space while remaining cosy. There is plenty of room here for solo dinners, couples and giant groups getting back together after months of Zoom quarantinis. Lowe offers outside terraced seating, but these Dubai summer months leave me yearning for the sweet comforts of air conditioning. I ask for a table of one inside when I make my reservation.
Lowe offers a reduced menu versus my previous visit. The menu nonetheless is firmly in the spirit of Lowe’s concept. Lowe’s website states the mission:
“A homegrown ideology, LOWE is a contemporary and experimental dining experience showcasing seasonal produce cooked naturally by fire. The open kitchen centered on a charcoal grill, rotisserie and wood-fired oven celebrates rustic and approachable food.
The menu combines traditional techniques and unique flavours to ignite the senses. A part of the Nasab creative community, the relaxed eatery brings food to life in a welcoming environment, with a sense of humor and a touch of nostalgia.”
Some favourites are sadly snipped from the menu including a cantabrian anchovy & ricotta toast with a salt lemon pickle (AED50, US$14, £10, €12). Pungent oily fish wrapped in creamy sharp ricotta and lifted by lemon pickle. The style is reminiscent of trapping around Andalusia’s smallest tapas bars sipping sherry and munching on freshly caught anchovies bought in Cádiz market. The impressive spiced eggplant schnitzel, yoghurt and burnt scallion chermoula is also MIA (AED60, US$16, £12, €14). The last dish should be submitted into evidence as to why vegetarian dishes represent some of the most creative and exciting food out there. This reminds me that Lowe enjoys burning things deliberately and dusting the charred remains.
Lowe’s menu offers a short selection of 11 dishes ranging from AED16-AED160 (US$4/44, £3/33, €4/37). Waiters carry piles of soft, fresh wood-fired bread, with whipped aubergine and puffed ancient grains (AED30, $8, £6, €7). The LOWE Wagyu cheeseburger with chipotle barbecue and onion rings is another popular choice (AED120, US$33, £25, €28).
Heritage tomato salad
I order a plate of heritage tomato salad with cherries, aged feta and pickled watermelon vinaigrette (AED55, US$15, £11, €13). A healthy colourful plate arrives jewelled with yellow and red tomatoes with nuggets of creamy age feta and pearls of burgundy-colour cherries. It is a sweet dish balanced with the creamy slightly sharp feta and a pair of spice rolls through.
The tomato salad is a very light dish that works well during the summer months.
Wheat & Duck Leg Bowl
A broken wheat salad with crispy duck leg, toasted seeds and orange spiced labneh arrives in a pottery style bowl (AED72, US$20, £15, €17). A hearty filling portion – This is the kind of food that low does very well. It finds that sweet spot of feeling nutritious without abandoning flavour. The judicious use of duck leg brings a mellow meatiness in the way that only luscious duck fat can. The duck’s crispy skin adds a crunchy texture to complement the crispy puffed wheat. You want to eat this with a spoon curled up on a sofa whilst binging on what’s left of Netflix that you did not get to earlier this year.
Orange is a classic pairing finding new life here with segments refreshing the dish with a scattering of coriander leaves. The smear of labneh is not something I knew I needed but enjoyed once I tried it. My only feedback would be that the orange is undetectable subtle in the lab now and, perhaps, would be better incorporated through a vinaigrette (on the side). Also, it was a touch under-seasoned for my taste.
This is an upmarket duck rice bowl that I would gladly eat weekly as if under doctor’s orders.
Lowe: the small matter of dessert
Just a brief moment before the desert. The lunch service here finishes at 3:15 pm and I found myself at 3:30 pm looking for a dessert menu. The service rushed to the kitchen to see if they could turn out their most popular dessert for me and, much to my relief, they confirmed they could do one more.
The service at low is polite, efficient and engaging. My sense is that they could do with one or two more people here and, speculating, restaurant restrictions or caution may prevent them from staffing up more.
Dessert arrives humbly in a glazed bowl. The burnt sourdough, chocolate, Earl Grey and macadamia caramel is a delicious act of kindness sent from the kitchen by people who clearly understand the joy dessert can bring.
What it lacks in presentation it makes up for in unyielding comfort food. The Earl Grey tea brings aromatics to a warm caramel undertone and the crumbling macadamia nuts end like brownie brings much-needed texture. The texture is key here. This is a sophisticated brownie with ice cream stretched and matured beyond its childish origins. The crunchy, soothing comfort of a dessert easily shareable between two – but you may not want to share.
Would I return to Lowe?
Lowe, however, is off the beaten path making it somewhat of a destination restaurant. You will weave through building developments to get here and there is almost no reason why you’re in the area. The immediate communities are fortunate to have this restaurant within striking distance.
I would enjoy seeing Lowe at a pop-up somewhere in the city just to raise its profile or even dabble in the thought of opening a second branch somewhere.
Nonetheless, I look forward to coming back to Lowe especially when it is back to its former fighting weight with a full menu.
Who should come to Lowe?
Large groups looking for long weekend breakfasts, fans of locally sourced produce, couples looking to get out of the city (but within 30 minutes drive of most places).