No Hidden Agenda At James Island Eatery, Just Great Food & Drink
By: Jeff Walker, Restaurant Review
After spending a good bit of his Charleston career with HomeGrown Hospitality (TBonz, Liberty Grill, Kaminsky’s), Richmond native Daniel Porter and fellow food & beverage veteran Taylor Styron decided it was time to open their own home grown establishment. With basically 15 years experience apiece including marketing and kitchen work, the duo threw open the doors to Lowdown Oven & Bar at 967 Folly Road on James Island in 2013.
As their website declares and Porter echoes, Lowdown is not your typical food & drink place, yet it is everything you expect in a neighborhood tavern. For those who have never been, stealing again from their website, Lowdown focuses on two principles, ‘low concept & high execution’ meaning they haven’t re-invented the wheel, but taken their general idea to the next level.
Tavern food & drink are Lowdown’s cornerstone. Regulars from James & Johns Island, as well as West Ashley and Folly Beach flock to Lowdown for good food, cold brews, and superior service, all in a laid back atmosphere. For those who don’t live in the immediate area, it’s a nice respite after a day on the beach, or if your work brings you to James Island.
If you like to blend healthy with hearty, than the home-made Chicken Pot Pie, complete with a side salad is just the ticket, and at $13 is about the highest priced menu item. Ideal on a blustery day. Delivered steaming hot, a golden brown crust (slightly charred) covers an ample chunky chicken and veggie mixture. Authenticity is key, while most pot pies come covered in crust, Lowdown’s is a full bodied crust all the way around, allowing for a seasoned flaky morsel in every bite.
While a deluge of food favorites make up the menu, Lowdown’s nucleus is handheld edibles, wings, burgers, sandwiches, including an array of signature pizzas with the W.Y.L.F (what you’re looking for) more a traditional pizza with marinara, fresh mozzarella, roasted mushrooms, and pepperoni. At $11 it easily feeds two.
Seven signature pizzas in all, with the Margarita (fresh mozz, romas, basil, oregano) coming in at $10, and the carnivore lovers ManBearPig teeming with bacon, pepperoni, sausage, soppressata (Italian salami), prosciutto (Italian ham) over marinara and fresh mozzarella, topping the list at $13. Two can easily dine on this pizza, with maybe a slice for a small young’en! Dining alone, you’ll have a few slices to take home with you.
According to Porter, burgers and their kid brothers (sliders) are all the rage at Lowdown. It’s among the most ordered items on the menu. The Lowdown Burger pays tribute to the Palmetto state. An all beef half pound patty surrounded by tomato jam, fried green tomatoes, with a slather of pimento cheese. Oozing with flavor.
The Roadhouse is another southern delight, smothered in peach bbq, bacon, cheddar, and onion straws. All burgers $11 and under. Get any three sliders for a cool $10.
Lowdown’s sandwiches represent the American landscape. The Cheesesteak (Philly) comes complete with sauteed mushrooms, peppers, and onions, with lettuce, and mayo for $12. Get a half size for $8. The Cuban (Miami) is a toasty pulled pork creation draped in prosciutto, queso fresco, house b&b pickles, with a smidge of spicy brown mustard. It would make Castro proud. Just $10. The Meatballs & Mozz (NYC) comes on a warm baguette layered in marinara!
On Sunday 10-3pm you can drop in for brunch. The Skillet resembles the hungry man plate you might get at a roadside diner. Two eggs any way you want, seasoned breakfast potatoes, with sausage gravy, and your choice of sausage or bacon, with a fluffy buttermilk biscuit. A steal at $9. The buttermilk fried chicken and waffle sliders will set you back $9 as well. Another fill you up brunch item is the good old Biscuits & Gravy. For $8 you get a hot plate of biscuits, with gravy on them, served with a side of breakfast potatoes.
Want to go upscale on a middle class budget. Impress your date for $9. Le French Toast (that’s low country for French toast), is a sumptuous plate loaded with creme brulee French toast, breakfast potatoes, and either bacon or sausage. Have it with a mimosa and you can dine like the upper crust do, but with more style. A variety of sandwiches complete the brunch menu.
Did you happen to catch the ‘bar’ title in their name. Lowdown Oven & Bar serves up beer, wine, and cocktails that complement every entree on the menu. Five brews on tap accompany your favorite standards and local and regional brew houses, including Westbrook, Holy City, and RJ Rockers.
You can enjoy several of their signature cocktails that provide a little kick, or take in the smoothness of their James Island Iced Tea. Deep Eddy Sweet Tea, bathed in gin, tequila, rum, triple sec, lemon, and lime. Their Comfortably Numb (Southern Comfort, St Germaine, lemonade), and Rockin Chair (Summer Hummer citrus vodka, lemonade, Budweiser) will equally put you in ‘chill out’ mode. An ample selection of white, red, & rose wines to boot!
Perhaps you’re the type who likes a full meal, punctuated with a nice dessert. The Waffle Sundae is a nice way to cap off a meal, or maybe just enjoy for a late night sweet treat. A fluffy home-made waffle topped with vanilla bean ice cream, fudge sauce, and cashews. Great with a dark beer or a cup of joe. The Zeppoles, an Italian fried dough, sprinkled with powdered sugar and oozing with honey has that carnival feel to it.
Reflecting their Virginia and Wisconsin roots, Porter and Styron offer up a cornucopia of edibles that reflect the low country, and established food locales from around the country. Think of Lowdown as a neighborhood tavern with hints of a pizza parlor, deli, burger joint, and a roadside diner. Something for everyone on the menu, including the kids.
The interior opens up to a friendly bar, with a vast array of low and high top tables scattered all around. Although not a typical sports bar, there are numerous big screens surrounding the entire dining room. Lowdown carries that laid back, no need to be in a hurry atmosphere. The front door is adjacent to a covered patio overlooking Folly Road. On any given night, usually the weekends you might discover a singer songwriter offering up tunes.
In 2021 Lowdown Oven & Bar will celebrate its 8th year serving up great food and drink. While that might not be an eternity compared to some other local joints, the owners of Lowdown are quick to point out ‘It ain’t the years, it’s the mileage’.
As a noun lowdown means the following ‘the true facts or relevant information about something’. Well here’s the lowdown on Lowdown!
Come in off the street,
Find a comfortable seat.
To a place you can unload,
Easy to find on Folly Road,
Drink, eat, and repeat,
Until your quite replete.
Whether you live near or far,
Enjoy Lowdown Oven and Bar!
Open daily from 11am-11-pm. For more about Lowdown Oven & Bar visit their website at https://www.whatsthelowdown.com/
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