I didn’t think I’d get so comfortable, my first time at Lowe. The restaurant had then been open for a bit over a week when I visited with a friend, after a cab ride through throngs of trees and foliage into Dubai’s Koa community, a real estate concept launched in 2016.
Lowe’s interior is sunlit against so much fine grain wood at noon, with a counter overlooking the kitchen and tables for parties and pairs. We were seated close to the window.
Our server, sensing our trepidation, started us off with two types of wood fired bread, a simple flatbread and one that was burnt at the surface and embedded with onions. The latter went especially well with, both the aubergine topped with ancient grains, and the tarama with olive oil and sesame seeds.
The aubergine had been whipped together with date syrup and some pepita oil for flavour. For years I’d had the typical aubergine preparation in the form of dishes like Baba Ghanoush, and this dish thankfully lacked the acridness that I’d come to expect from so many canned and even homemade varieties.
The beef tartare, my anticipated next order, was smoked, organic and topped with a layer of chipotle chips and sliced radishes. This tartare was slightly unconventional, with soured onion cream in place of the customary egg yolk, something I was curious and a bit doubtful about.
My friend, a lifelong picky eater, almost acted as a foil to my all-encompassing tastes. I first discovered her reservations over nondescript fast food outside the Dubai Mall food court around a year ago. She revealed that she wouldn’t touch beef or lamb if cubed or as a steak. She wouldn’t touch any sort of meat off the bone either. She said it had everything to do with texture.
She ended up making a year’s worth of progress at a child’s feeding therapist in that hour-and-a-half we spent at Lowe, which was a joy to experience.
“It’s raw meat!?” she blanched.
“I thought you knew. I thought I’d told you what beef tartare was?”
I moved some of the chipotle chips and thinly-sliced young radish off the surface to reveal a layer of glistening, red-pink granules.
In such a convivial setting and with my reassurances that raw meat (when properly sourced and prepared) was both safe and nutritious, she eventually took up her spoon.
“It’s good, right?” I’d always preferred steak tartare to any of its Middle Eastern counterparts, which mix the meat with fine bulgar grain. People who have never tried raw meat miss out on how satiating it can be before denatured in the skillet or oven.
She admitted she couldn’t taste much that she recognised as meaty, which made sense for someone whose memories of red meat were nondescript and heavily spiced.
This didn’t stop her from helping me finish off the plate, with more of the toppings and the onion cream, seeming to enjoy it a bit more. The meat was pleasantly smoked, pairing well with the radishes and cream.
Next we had the local clams with orzo, lamb belly and garnished with parsley and lemon. This was our heaviest dish by far, and possibly my only faltering point. I was used to simpler shellfish preparations, but I soon began to appreciate its combination of so many different levels of savoury.
The coal fired baby cap mushrooms were meaty and full-bodied, with an amazing burnt flavour from the black onion powder over smooth, aged beef fat and garlic emulsion.
The crispy duck leg over broken wheat with toasted seeds, peeled orange and spicy yoghurt was an extremely familiar dish to the both of us. Again, the broken wheat salad was a perfect example of traditional fare done extremely well in terms of flavour, composition and presentation.
Between the last two dishes and our house-aged beef, we had some reprieve to reflect on the experience so far and have some more of the excellent Kombucha, now a watermelon and strawberry variant. I could have had that for the rest of the meal, the rest of the day.
The beef, its flavours more singular and focused compared to our last few orders, was as well-cooked a medium rare as I’ve ever had. It was almost a dessert meat for me. My friend tried a slice lathered in broccoli bearnaise and wasabi and expressed her approval later on.
This dish was the only thing we had to-go, to be enjoyed later in the evening. Chef Kate Christou expressed to us that she and Chef Jesse Blake work closely with suppliers in Australia, New Zealand and the US to maintain the quality of their beef instead of simply adhering to the usual grass-fed label.
We’d managed to make it to dessert after more food than we’d collectively eaten in the last three days, and ended the service with a frozen lavage meringue with sour apple and custard cream yuzu and the chocolate sunchoke with coffee grind caramel and honeycrunch. These desserts were multilayered, with a portion size to rival some of our previous dishes.
What I didn’t expect from Lowe were the portion sizes, the intimacy of the location, and a spectrum of complex flavours so close to home. The food at Lowe is less a fusion and more of an adaptation, subtle and successful. Their menu is appreciative to some of its Middle Eastern influences, but adventurous enough to push them to much greater heights.
Location: Mohammad Bin Rashid City
Average price for two: Dh250
— Mohammad El Jachi is an intern at Gulf News.