I’ve grown rather fond of the new gastro-pubs, but what I really like about the Lowbrow Cafe is that it isn’t trying to be one of them. No macaroni and cheese with truffle oil. No duck confit banh mi sandwiches. Lowbrow isn’t stuck in the past, but the core of their menu is classic Americana — chili, burgers, fries, and even fish sticks and deviled eggs. Even the more contemporary offerings, such as fish tacos and the fried tofu sandwich steer clear of trendiness, and there’s a nice selection of vegetarian dishes, including a very tasty tempeh Reuben, (kind of like a turkey Reuben, but with a lighter karmic load) and a pinto and quinoa veggie burger (both $9.25) . They do offer some artisan brews and a decent low-end wine list, but you can get a glass of the house red or white for $5, and a can of Hamm’s for $2.50 or a PBR Tall Boy for $3.25.
One of my favorite classic low brow American dishes is two eggs over easy with hash browns and toast, and the Lowbrow’s rendition ($6.75) is just about perfect. They do offer the option of $1 upgrade to Wisconsin-style hashers with onions and cheese, but this turned out to be gilding the lily — plain old hashbrowns do a better job of soaking in the egg yolks.
It was at my recent visit that I discovered the Lowbrow’s Tuesday night date night special – which just might be the cheapest of them all: two burgers, sandwiches or entrees; two beverages (beer or wine) and a dessert to share, all for $25. (I’m becoming a cheap date night connoisseur – check out my past visits to Mona’s and the Grand Cafe, and Gigi’s (plus some other tips on happy hours and deals.)
The burgers and sandwiches come with a choice of fries or mixed green side salad. There are only two entrees to choose from – homemade fish sticks ($11.75( or a nightly pasta special ($10.75), which last week happened to be penne with Italian pepper sauce, goat cheese and Parmesan (about as trendy as the Lowbrow gets). I opted for the penne, which was simple and satisfying, while Carol chose the fried cod sandwich – a moist and flaky fillet with lettuce, onions and tartar sauce. For dessert, we selected a blueberry cobbler, served with a big mound of vanilla ice cream on top. Not exactly gastronomy, but a thoroughly enjoyable cheap date.