A POP-UP RESTAURANT in Bethnal Green is trialling something that looks innovative and more than a mere foodie fashion: gourmet sugar-free and low-carbohydrate meals.
The promise sounds contradictory, but it may be welcomed by those London restaurant-goers who have become weary of novelty ideas to tempt diners — avocado toast, vegan Mexican, pimped burgers, ramen, roasted cauliflower and cold-brew coffee, possibly served in jam jars — let’s leave it there.
Francesca Sofia Allegra believes she has come up with something more meaningful, something that fulfils a need. Her need was prompted by insulin resistance: which for the last four years has been a problem as her cells have ceased using insulin effectively. The name of her dining concept is Lowgin, apparently to be pronounced “log-in”, as if diners will mentally read it that way, despite a logo that vaguely suggests it’s to do with low-alcohol gin. That may not have been on offer but cocktails were, and they were distinctive and healthy-tasting.
When Loving Dalston sampled the Low GI Gourmet Experience, as the evening, in a spacious café-bar attached to a gym is grandly termed, it looked stylish. Fashionable-looking Italian millennials chatted excitedly as only Latins can and waiters buzzed about with drinks and snacks.
Allegra says her Lowgin menu is “perfectly suitable for those suffering diabetes and related pathologies, but most of all is a gourmet food concept never previously tried: 100% sugar-free, low-carb, low-fat, high-fibre and high-protein”.
Paradoxically, given that the food was said to be ideal for overweight people, everybody who sat down to dine was slim. That might explain the amount of food left on plates — perhaps many of them were dainty eaters. When it came to the almonds-pistaacchio dessert most people took only a nibble. (I found it un-dessert-like yet delicious.)
Other problems showed. A few vegetarians at the table were not given a mains dish and had to sit staring at the tablecloth as neighbours tucked into salmon.
Why was hard to understand, because the couple had emailed that they were vegetarian and chef Antonio Alderuccio’s wife is vegan. But he was under pressure: two of his assistant cooks had not turned up.
Allegra has a huge staff and is looking for premises in or around Hackney for a restaurant, so is seeking crowdfunding. For now, you can enjoy her low-glycemic-index for less than £40 a head, which includes a German-size glass of Italian wine.
David Altheer 280317
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