Lowlander Grand Cafe, Drury Lane: Review

We’ll be honest we don’t often spend our evenings at the pub, preferring to find somewhere that does a good sourdough pizza (Taproom SE8), a damn fine cocktail (Little Nans) or some lovely red wine (Winemakers). However, Lowlander (which describes itself as a grand café) really surprised us. On a street we have walked past plenty of times, but never ventured inside, with its promise of great mussels we thought we had to go and check it out.

Sure, the interior needs a little bit of a refresh but the venue had a lovely atmosphere with groups of friends catching up in every corner. Staff were incredibly friendly, informative and nothing was too much trouble. We called it a pub in our intro but with service at your table and staff a lot keener to impart their knowledge than what we are used to, it’s a definite upgrade.

Based a stone’s throw away from Covent Garden, on Drury Lane, Lowlander describes itself as a “modern, stylish and vibrant grand café with a passion for traditional Belgian beer and cuisine at its heart.”

What we ate

Our visit was during the festive season so we ordered a plate of smoked salmon, horseradish and sourdough to share. The portion was huge! The salmon was of a really high quality and packed some great flavour. Our waiter seemed genuinely passionate about the quality of the food he was serving and was happy to talk about their various suppliers.

For our main, as we couldn’t make our choice, we ordered a few dishes. We opted for starter size portions of two types of mussels, with a side of the seafood gratin because we are greedy. The team are proud to show on the menu that its mussels arrive each day fresh from the Shetland Islands and you could definitely tell. The mussels were huge, and even as a starter, was an extremely generous portion.

Despite playing on its Belgian routes the team aren’t afraid of trying new flavours and we were surprised to see the likes of moules with ginger and miso on the menu. We went for a traditional dish, moules a la provencale, and then one of their more modern options of moules with chorizo and bacon. The first was delicious and a real taste of Belgium. The chorizo and bacon option was a lot richer, as you would imagine with the chorizo and bacon, and we felt the salsa verde sauce could have been a bit punchier to cut through this but it was a very tasty dish.

The seafood gratin was proper comfort food, packed full of seafood, and again a healthy sized portion. Whilst it was lovely it wasn’t mind blowing and we wouldn’t run back for this dish alone.

What really made the visit stand out for us was the passion of the staff for beer. Now, whilst both of us like an IPA or a Pilsner now and then we wouldn’t say we were massive beer drinkers but staff were great at suiting drinks to our tastebuds. We did a tasting paddle at first, consisting of thirds of a pint, and then fed back to our waiter which of those we liked and didn’t. From this he went away and selected some truly delicious beers for us, and which worked really well for the seafood. Not to stick too close to female stereotypes but we found the lighter beers complimented the seafood best, however as an end of meal tipple Gemma did really enjoy a heavier cherry beer.

The verdict

Lowlander is a great setting for a relaxed evening with friends. We suggest getting a few of you down there, breaking out of our comfort zone and try some beers you may never heard of, and soak in a bit of calm from the craziness of central London.

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