“In an ideal world,” Oliver Gift ponders, sitting, arms crossed in the back of the dimly lit dining room of LowCountry “I’d be cooking in a rural area. I’ve always dreamed of being an expat, cooking food that I know how to do, relaxing, chilling out.” Chilling is not exactly in Gift’s schedule these days, head chef at a hot new Southern restaurant in the bustling West Village. Growing up in Nebraska, cooking at his grandmother’s with nothing more than a steak knife and a cutting board, Gift has always been a proponent of home-style. He jokes that growing up with football players, he “had to figure out how to work my way in with the ladies.” Kidding aside, cooking is hardly a pastime for this Nebraskan, who brings along quite a pedigree to the kitchen at LowCountry. Making his debut in New York fine dining at the age of 21, earning a coveted spot on the line at Westchester’s Blue Hill, and then at Commerce, Oliver Gift has climbed his way up in one of the world’s toughest restaurant scenes, taking the farm to table skill he has garnered and putting it to use now at LowCountry, where the bourbon flows, and the food is far from meat and potatoes.
Lowcountry, serving fare from the coastal regions of the Carolinas, has a decidedly southern charm about it; the service is gracious and the menu holds an unwavering commitment to its namesake flavors. Few patrons begin their meal without the pork sliders, loaded up with a house cole slaw. Deviled eggs are whipped into fluffy submission, speckled with bacon and chives. Spicy pimento cheese is served in a mason jar, and the creamy perfection is to be spread generously on the crispy toasts; the smokey and pungent flavors left us in silent awe. With a menu boasting an array of seasonal ingredients, we advise you ask your waiter what they picked up at the Union Square market this morning. We dove in to the denizen favorite, a bourbon-cider glazed pork chop, riotously succulent, with a subdued sweet finish. Bourbon enlivens the cocktail menu as well, and inventive drinks flow from the bar, like the Ginger Julep, animated with Jalapeno infused ginger. Finish with the Chocolate Rolo Cake, drizzled in caramel and cradling a generous scoop of melting vanilla bean ice cream.