Low-country cooking in downtown Steamboat Springs.
When I was in Steamboat Springs in January, I don’t believe that there was Southern anything in town other than a KFC, which in my world doesn’t count. Beyond my general distaste for chains, I admit that I don’t generally care for Southern food. What I’ve had in the past was too much fried everything, too many pasty grits, too much gloppy gravy, often too much salt. Last spring, LOW Country Kitchen opened, and changed all that. It filled a dining niche as well as well as the happy tummies of guests — and having eaten there on a food-sampling weekend, I had a Southern food epiphany and came away with a happy tummy too.
LOW is the brainchild of Brian and Katy Vaughn, who operate Bistro c.v. half a block away. Southern- born and raised Brian is one of Steamboat’s top chefs, and so he added to classic Dixie dishes with a hefty dose of cheffiness. The result is really good food. Much to my surprise, I loved the grits — first time ever. I also loved the fried chicken — usually my least favorite version of the bird. And the ribs, which I usually do like, were terrific. In my view, the Vaughns could have named the place LOW Refined Country Kitchen.
The ambiance is neat too. The small space is features slate gray walls, mural-scale black-and-white photos of library shelves laden with books, blow-ups of Louisiana and Alabama images taken by Brian’s father, a small bar and big windows looking out to Steamboat’s main drag. White and wood-grain molded chairs on chrome legs are pulled up to spare tables. It provides neutral palette for the food which, cheffy goodness notwithstanding, still features a fair amount of foods that I call “fried brown.”
Price check: Starters, $3-$12; salads and soups, $7-$11; kids (“and grownups like these too,” the menu notes), $3-$4; supper, $25-$20; sides, $4-$6.