America! Fuck yeah!
For most people, American food means burgers and barbecue. Low Country aims to popularise some of the lesser-known dishes of America’s Deep South and South Carolina coastline.
Despite being a restaurant, Low Country feels more like a pub due to its combination of large bar, wooden floors, attractive rear garden, bright lighting, cavernous dining spaces and, most importantly, random people milling around not eating but getting slowly drunk. Service was friendly, if a little pushy (for the last time, I really don’t want steak).
Baron Greenback was just as intrigued with the menu as I was so we popped along after work one weekday evening. I started off with the she-crab soup. I’m not sure why eating a female crab would be more preferable to a male one, but the half-crab here is served in a thin but surprisingly buttery and salty soup peppered with succotash, a mixture of beans and corn which is very tasty. Extracting the crab meat from the spiky shell was more trouble than it was worth given that there wasn’t much of it and that it didn’t seem to go especially well with the vegetable soup.
Baron Greenback opted for the voodoo wings. He was inexplicably impressed with them for reasons that I can’t begin to fathom. Apart from a very mild, initial taste of Tabasco, there’s little to say about these chicken wings. They’re just chicken.
The villainous toad continued his meat streak with his main course of roast pork leg. He initially mistook the sauce for the same one that blanketed the voodoo wings, but the tomato-based sauce here is definitely different if still not particularly interesting. It’s inoffensively sweet and did little to liven up the moist, if unremarkable meat.
Both Baron Greenback and I love grits and I chose to have mine with shrimp as my main course. My grits were coarse, dimpled, fluffy and buttery, but they were spoiled by the insipidly watery tomato sauce. At least the prawns themselves were fresh and quiveringly soft. Karpo’s version may have even better prawns, but I prefer Low Country’s more traditional version of grits (minus the tomato sauce of course).
Baron Greenback’s own spicy cheese grits weren’t spicy in the slightest, but they were at least very creamy and had the same coarse, dimpled texture which helped make mine so enjoyable. Plus, there was none of that lame tomato sauce.
Both the Baron and I also have a mutual appreciation of corn bread. Low Country’s version goes down a treat thanks to its coarse, crumbly texture and moistness. It may be a little too cake-like for some, especially when eaten with its accompanying marmalade-like orange spread, but we both loved it.
Oddly, my side order of succotash, a mixture of beans and corn, was duller and blander than the soup-based version I had as a starter.
The Baron was surprised by the small size of his pecan pie slice. Served cold, the crust was forgettable and while the filling was soft and mildly coarse, it wasn’t as boldly flavoured as I was expecting.
If the proportions of the pecan pie were puny, the same couldn’t be said for the Fulham Mess, which is like an Eton mess but much larger than any I’ve seen before. Served in a pail, the smooth, fruity, sugary sweet cream bore an uncanny resemblance to Angel Delight. Nevertheless, it was still tasty, especially when taken with a mouthful of strawberries and soft, crumbly meringue of which there wasn’t nearly enough of.
As with modern America itself, I have rather mixed feelings about Low Country. Some dishes were rather good, some were a mixed bag that could be improved upon and some were just utterly forgettable and just aren’t worth having in their current state. This might be acceptable at a lower price but for around £40 a head, Low Country is overpriced for the quality of cooking on offer. Unless the menu is substantially revamped, it’s not worth going to and that’s a real shame – there are precious few other places in London that serve up proper grits and corn bread.
Name: Low Country
Address: 4 Fulham High Street, London, SW6 3LQ
Phone: 0207 736 7002
Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday noon-midnight, Friday noon-01.00, Saturday 09.00-01.00 and Sunday noon-23.30.
Reservations: yeah, if you want
Total cost for one person including soft drinks: £40 approx.