August 4,2020


America’s First Cannabis Cuisine Restaurants Will Combine Art, Cannabis and the Culture of Food

Top chefs, mixologists, and foodies are experimenting to design and develop an entirely new aesthetic for the world of cannabis cuisine.

Photo for: America’s First Cannabis Cuisine Restaurants Will Combine Art, Cannabis and the Culture of Food

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In September 2019, the culinary world could be in for a major change. That’s when Lowell Farms Cafe, the nation’s first full-service cannabis cuisine restaurant, is set to open for business in West Hollywood. Those within the cannabis food industry are already referring to the landmark opening as the “end of Prohibition” - and for good reason. Until now, cannabis restaurants have taken the form of underground supper clubs and private dining events well off the public radar. Lowell Farms Cafe promises to change all that, promising to become the premier place in the nation to enjoy cannabis during a meal, completely out in the open.

Although Lowell Farms will make history as the Greater Los Angeles Area’s first cannabis restaurant, there will be no edibles or any cannabis-infused food actually served on-site. The only type of cannabis consumption at Lowell Farms will be smoking or vaping, which is allowed right at the table. Earlier plans had called for cannabis-infused dishes, but that has changed due to burdensome regulations at both the city and state level. Instead, restaurant patrons will be able to order from an impressive cannabis menu from Lowell Herb Co., which will be based under the same roof as the cafe. If patrons choose to partake of both food and cannabis, they will receive two separate checks.

Lowell Farms’ star chef is Andrea Drummer, who started cooking with cannabis in 2011. She has been featured in many mainstream media publications, and has even had a starring role on the Netflix show “Cooking on High.” At Lowell Farms Cafe, Drummer will prepare dishes without a single drop of the psychoactive THC, or non-psychoactive CBD. According to the chef, the entire food menu is designed to complement the actual cannabis that will be consumed on-site.

The menu includes grilled peaches and burrata, a fried chicken sandwich, crispy Brussels sprouts, and white bean hummus with crudités. Drummer also built a substantial dessert platter with candied bacon, caramel popcorn with Thai chili almonds, peanut butter cookies, sweet potato beignets, crème brûlée, homemade s’mores, and an ice cream sandwich. Drummer’s goal is to help bridge the gap between cannabis and food. In other words, cannabis culture and foodie culture are about to blur in some very interesting ways.

Drummer’s menu creation efforts are best compared with wine pairing, where food and smoking cannabis enhance one another. Just as certain dishes are chosen to complement a particular wine at most restaurants, certain dishes will be chosen at Lowell Farms Cafe to enhance a particular strain of cannabis. The secret here is that cannabis contains aromatic compounds that occur naturally in different types of flower, creating unique aromas and flavors. It’s up to an artistically-minded chef to find the perfect combination.

As might be expected, the creation of such a unique dining experience is leading to a new vocabulary around food and cannabis, encompassing terms such as “flower service,” “budtenders” and “flower host.” While there will still be a “last call” - this one will be a last call for cannabis, which will take place at 9:50 pm each night. The earlier last call timing is a reflection of the fact that the active compounds in cannabis take a longer time than alcohol to be absorbed by the body. Cannabis is fat soluble rather than water soluble, and that makes all the difference. It means that cannabis is ultimately absorbed via the body’s fat, which is why some people are more affected by it than others, depending on their size, weight and body fat percentage.

What is most interesting about the new cannabis food movement emerging from California is how it is laying the groundwork for entirely new dining experiences that could resonate greatly with young millennial consumers. Rather than opting for elaborate wine dinners with expertly chosen wines to complement a multi-course meal, young millennial restaurant goers could opt for expertly chosen flower to complement a multi-course meal. Instead of ordering conventional appetizers, they might decide to vape or smoke. And instead of sitting around the restaurant table sharing drinks together, they could be sitting around the restaurant table sharing some herb together.

While Lowell Cafe has gained the most attention nationwide for being a full-service cannabis cuisine restaurant, it is hardly alone. Opening in 2020 could be several other West Hollywood cannabis consumption lounges and cafes, including The Antidote from noteworthy Los Angeles restaurateur Kirk Cartozian. The Antidote will be part-cafe, part-commissary, part-boutique and part-CBD superstore. All told, there could be 8 new cannabis cafes or consumption lounges opening in West Hollywood within the next 12 months. If you’re “just” a restaurant or cafe, does that eventually mean you’ll have to jump aboard the cannabis bandwagon if you want to thrive in the city’s hyper-competitive restaurant scene?

Looking ahead to 2020, the future could not be any brighter for the cannabis food movement. The National Restaurant Association and American Culinary Federation have officially embraced cannabis as one of the hottest food trends of the year, and some of the nation’s top chefs, mixologists and foodies are experimenting with new creations designed to enhance the cannabis cuisine experience. It will be important to keep an eye on all the new initiatives soon launching from California’s top tastemakers and influencers, as they create, design and develop an entirely new aesthetic for the world of cannabis cuisine.

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