You’ve probably heard through media outlets by now that the hospitality industry is hiring! This is because in general, businesses are having a very hard time finding staff. Consequently, many restaurants, bakeries, bars, and cafés are forced to reduce their hours, and often close for the early part of the week to focus on their busiest days.
While I sympathize with owners who are struggling to find employees, and doing what they need to do for their business to survive in this in this complex time, I like to eat out, and sometimes, on a Monday. So, this past Monday, I was delighted to end up on the patio at Low Down in Collingwood.
Located in Collingwood’s Heritage District, Low Down is on Simcoe Street, adjacent to the Collingwood Public Library. This area is known as Creative Simcoe Street and has become a hub of arts and entertainment, featuring artists’ studios, a theatre, dance studio, art supply store, art school, art foundation, several galleries, and restaurants, including Low Down.
The street is also lined with heritage buildings like the Tremont, a former 1889 hotel, now repurposed as an art studio and gallery, and only a block from Hurontario Street. Don’t miss this hip and happening area while in Collingwood. You gotta feel the vibe!
Now, grab a patio table at Low Down for a great view, a little R&R, and then enjoy some cocktails and snacks, or maybe even a bowl. Primarily known as a cocktail bar, this place has 16 cocktails on the menu, along with a few mocktails, local beer and cider on tap, Asian lagers, wine and even house infused Soju. I opted-in for drinks!
My Cloud 9 made of Tanqueray gin, Aperol, lemon, lavender and butterfly flower syrup with vegan foaming bitters was aromatic, floral and delicious. I also sampled a So Fresh & So Clean mocktail made of Seedlip Garde non-alcoholic spirit, lime, cucumber puree, and agave nectar. It was quite refreshing after a warm day of walking, talking, and shopping.
While the food offering isn’t huge, I think there are a total of 15 items on the menu. Don’t pass up this opportunity for some delicious nosh, and consider that most of the items can be modified to be gluten-free or plant-based/vegan. I opted for the veggie spring rolls, the Bahn Mi fries and the Bulgogi bowl. Six crispy spring rolls come stacked in a pyramid with some Togarashi spice, green onion and sriracha sauce for dipping. I never had Togarashi spice, which I have learned is a Japanese blend of dried chili peppers, orange peel, sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed. It’s a popular table condiment in Japan, but here, it’s meshed with sriracha aioli, creating a total taste explosion in your mouth. It’s now one of my favorite spring roll dishes, and I love spring rolls! I have already picked up some Togarashi for my spice pantry.
If you may not already know, Bahn Mi is a traditional Vietnamese meal, served on a bun with delicious savoury ingredients. At Low Down, they pay homage to Canadian poutine by serving their Bahn Mi on fries. But not just any fries! Their shoestring style fries are cooked to perfection, and then topped with black garlic mayo, chimichurri, carrot and daikon, chillies, sesame seeds, cilantro, and protein (I chose the crispy five-spice tofu, but you could choose the crispy Char Siu pork belly instead). I seriously couldn’t stop eating! It’s a great snack to share too, although I recommend establishing rules of engagement for sharing before you dig in. Trust me.
Next, the Bulgogi bowl is served with chicken and egg, but I opted for the vegan version with tofu, and served over rice with kimchi, pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber, green onions, cilantro, pickles, chilies and sesame seeds. Bulgogi is a Korean barbeque dish that is popping-up on a lot of menus lately, and even paired with kimchi, a Korean side dish of fermented vegetables. This Bulgogi with the five-spice tofu was so divine that I could eat that tofu all day! I finished the meal with a scoop of raspberry sorbet. Not too sweet, but definitely cold and refreshing.
Last, and before you leave, you may want to indulge in Low Down’s Cocktails-To-Go. Take home one of their signature cocktails in a single serve pouch, complete with a giant ice cube. Or if one just won’t do, consider a Cocktail kit to bring home, for use at the cottage or your next party. These kits come complete with recipes, ice cubes and a bottle.
Low Down is located at 65 Simcoe Street, Unit 5, in Collingwood. It’s open from 4 pm until 10 pm from Mondays to Saturdays. Visit them online at www.lowdownbar.ca.