It seems a day can’t go by these days without someone mentioning to me, “Lowe”, the newly-opened, contemporary, posh-looking, home-grown restaurant over at KOA Canvas (a development just down the road from The Farm, Al Barari). It was a beautiful spring morning, the place is dog-friendly, so the wife and I decided to hit the road and make the voyage to see what it was all about.
Run in partnership with chefs Jesse Blake and Kate Christou, the restaurant has been doing the influencer-rounds at the moment, with nearly everyone I’ve come across highly-recommending it. Not much lately has been getting me excited – even “Kizmet” didn’t hit the mark for me, so I was praying this place was going to convince me that I needed to come back for a (dry!) dinner.
We arrived at the ultra-modern building, plonked in the middle of the not-yet-developed Canvas and were immediately impressed with the aesthetics of the office spaces that are attached. We parked up, walked round to the restaurant and sat in the outdoor seating area, pooch in tow.
Despite the development not looking anywhere near close to completion, the outdoor area of the venue is surrounded by plants and creates a pleasant environment. Unfortunately, not much thought has gone to diners who are wanting to actually eat outside – the tables and seating are far too low, so you need to hunch over whilst tucking into breakfast – not ideal and another one of the many pet peeves of the wife and I!
A member of staff came over to take our drinks and give us the food menu – there was a bit of a language barrier and it did take a few attempts to understand what he was trying to say to me, but we eventually ordered a couple of coffees and the homemade-that-day blueberry muffin. The coffees arrived quickly, blueberry muffin-less and we took a sip as we browsed the unique menu.
I always love it when a restaurant tries to do something a bit different without being ridiculous for the sake of being ridiculous (e.g. serving a crab salad on a bed of dry ice), so the menu definitely appealed to me:
In the end, we were stuck between three so though “screw it” and got them all – the shakshuka, the molten cheese and vegemite toastie and the English muffin with ham, eggs, chicken skin and tartare (mmmmm chicken skin).
I asked for the muffin again and it finally arrived. Oh my woooooord it was good. Beautifully fresh and soft, I was just a bit gutted I had to share it! A perfect accompaniment to their excellent coffee.
One thing that is beyond their control, but still needs to be brought up is the fly situation. The restaurant is PLAGUED by them. Usually, you might have to put up with 2 or 3 buzzing over your food whilst trying to eat food outdoors, but this was more like 10-15. We could even see some flypaper inside the restaurant that was completely full with the little buggers. If you are sat outside, make sure you ask a staff member to burn the coffee grounds on the table as it gave us some respite once the food did arrive.
The English muffin arrived looking scrumptious. Packed full, with the egg dripping out, it was just screaming at me to devour it. I couldn’t resist snapping the end bit of the chicken skin and sampling it first. The technique to cook the skin right has definitely been mastered by the chefs, it was deliciously crisp but where was the seasoning!? It was so bland and tasteless, crying out for salt. The rest of the sandwich didn’t fare much better, the turkey ham was very thick, chewy and bland and the tartare sauce just overpowered everything. It was like eating a fish-butty, without the fish.
The Cheese Toastie was much better. The bread was gorgeously crunchy with a tasty, bitey cheese oozing out. I was a bit confused as to why the sandwich was deconstructed though – maybe it’s just to show off the beautiful beef tomatoes and pickles on the plate but once I’d shoved them in the sandwich where they belong, they were much more at home. A good dish – but 48 AED good (with an extra 5% tax to be added on the end *eye roll*? Hmm.
The last dish to arrive was the Shakshuka, unfortunately, the eggs were visibly undercooked and it was disappointing that whoever is running the pass didn’t pick this up – I know they need to be soft and runny in this dish, but the eggs had the consistency of snot, which is not what you want really, is it?
They weren’t completely raw though and I couldn’t be bothered sending them back as we were starting to get fed up of the fly invasion. The dish was packed with flavour, although I did say to the wife that I felt like it was lacking texture, she argued back saying that shakshuka is supposed to be a sauce and not chunky, which is a fair point. I like mine with a bit more chunk though! I felt like that the ratio of bread to sauce were way out of whack as well. To be fair, we could have asked for some more and they would have probably obliged, but we were ready to go as at about this time, we couldn’t keep the flies off anything.
The bill came in at 260 AED. Certainly not cheap for a breakfast that just didn’t quite hit the mark.
FOOD: 8/15 – Way below expectations, unfortunately. Maybe it’s a place that’s suited to go to for dinner instead, but breakfast has not convinced me it’s worth the journey to go eat somewhere dry.
SERVICE: 11.5/15 – Friendly enough, a few communication issues and had to ask for the muffin twice. The manager was very accommodating to the dog and was happy to provide a temporary solution to the fly problem.
DRINKS SELECTION: 4.5/5 – Your standard, cafe fare. Decent coffees, teas and juices.
AMBIENCE: 2/5 – A nice enough space outside, but uncomfortable, low seating to eat in and a plague of flies meant that we were quick to vacate. It’s definitely a place to sit indoors.
DESIGN: 4/5 – The design inside is stunning but the outdoor area is let down with no dedicated dining area.
VALUE: 2/5 – Only 1 out of 3 dishes hit the mark and 50 AED (inc. tax) for a cheese jaffle is ludicrously expensive. 260 AED for breakfast, ouch.
TOTAL: 32/50 – Perhaps we did a bad by going for breakfast, check out my friend A to Zaatar’s post for her much better dinner-service experience! Other than the gorgeous interiors, there’s nothing really telling me it’s worth the half an hour drive back over from JVC. They have applied for a liquor license, though, so perhaps I’ll take a trip over for dinner in the future.