How I Cook: Mr James Lowe

July 2019Words by The Daily Team

Mr James Lowe (left) and Mr John Ogier. Photograph by Mr Per-Anders Jorgensen, courtesy of Flor

Taking inspiration from the buvettes of Paris and San Sebastian pintxos bars, chef Mr James Lowe opened Flor last week in the centre of Borough Market in London, having recently celebrated a fifth anniversary at Lyle’s, his Michelin-starred Shoreditch restaurant. In Mr Lowe’s words, Flor is “a wine bar that also places huge importance on the food”. But if you think the food is a secondary notion or some sort of supporting act here, you’d be very much mistaken. It is already receiving plaudits from far and wide. Just this morning Ms Nigella Lawson tweeted that the dishes are “the perfect (hard to achieve) balance between hearty and exquisite”. We can’t disagree. We had the pleasure of sampling the menu recently and it was faultless. Think small plates of fresh, vibrantly red prawn heads, anchovy on toast with lardo and wild marjoram, which tasted like a God-level upgrade on Marmite on toast, and clam flatbreads – garlicy and fishy in equal measure. Simple, quality, crowd-pleasing food to satisfy, not challenge. And, as you will read below, this is a philosophy that Mr Lowe has built a career on.

Flor is a wine bar that also places huge importance on the food. There’s a large wine list with a focus on small producers and those that operate in an agriculturally responsible way. We like to think of it as the little sister of Lyle’s, a small place with a big personality. It is the home of our bread production. We’ll be milling the grain and baking the bread for both Flor and Lyle’s on site. We’ll be selling viennoiserie in the mornings and then moving into lunch and dinner.

After studying at university, I wanted to be a pilot. But for various reasons, and in no small part due to some inspirational meals at St John and The Fat Duck, I decided that what I really wanted was to open a restaurant. I badgered the places that most excited me until they gave me a job in the kitchen.