Boston Restaurant Blog -- February, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
It is no secret that I am a big fan of gastropubs. They are often dark and moody (which I like in a place), but not overly dive-y, and typically have above average food and excellent beer lists. And for the most part, this could be an apt description of The Local, a casual restaurant and pub in West Newton that opened in late 2008, and one that we finally were able to check out for the first time recently.
The Local sits on the edge of the center of West Newton in a space that used to be home to a local bar called RJ Crowley's. You can still sense the feel of the old neighborhood bar here, as it is dimly lit and made even darker by the black walls and wood paneling throughout (and the recessed lighting doesn't seem to help a whole lot). But The Local also has a clean, modern vibe, with an airy bar to the left, a fairly roomy dining area immediately to the right of the bar, and a quieter dining room further to the right that sits slightly below the rest of the place.
On our recent trip to The Local, we were seated in the middle area by the front windows and settled in, taking a look at the drink menu. I was actually a bit disappointed in the beer options available, as I had expected a more extensive list (the cocktail list actually seemed more interesting). We ended up with a couple of very nice beers, however, including a light-tasting Ipswich Apricot Wheat and a somewhat heavier (and hoppier) Cisco Whale's Tale. For starters, we ordered a bucket of fried pickles and another bucket of homemade potato chips. The pickles had a pleasantly sharp bite to them, and the spicy mayo further added a kick, but they weren't quite up to the level of the outstanding fried pickles I have had at the Fat Cat in Quincy (one of my favorite gastropubs). The chips were better, with many of them being slightly browned and especially crunchy, and all of them being nicely salted and seasoned--and the French onion dip was the perfect companion to them.
Our main entrees soon came, and with mostly positive results. The steak tips were delicious, with a slightly tangy marinade and little fat or gristle, but they had been ordered medium and they came out somewhere between rare and medium rare. The handcut fries were also a bit undercooked, though they were absolutely delicious and had just the right amount of salt. The other dish--the macaroni and cheese with chives and truffle oil--was out of this world, with short, stubby pieces of macaroni (ditali, really) mixed with a thick, creamy sauce that had that wonderfully earthy and woody truffle taste (though it probably would have been even better with truffle butter, which is admittedly tough to find). Alas, we had no room for dessert or even a cup of coffee or a tea. Prices were very reasonable, with the bill totaling less than $50, and service was about as perfect as can be, with our server being friendly, personable, knowledgeable, and efficient.
Our first visit to The Local was a pleasant and satisfying one (even with a few blips here and there), and it is certainly a place I want to try at least a few more times. I'm not sure if The Local is up to the level of the Fat Cat or the Highland Kitchen in Somerville (perhaps my favorite gastropub), but even if it isn't, it seems mighty close.
For those who want the address for The Local, here it is: The Local, 1391 Washington Street, Newton, MA 02465. The phone number is (617) 340-2160.
We returned to The Local over the weekend, having a similarly good experience as the first time we ate there. This time, we ordered the handcut potato chips as an appetizer once again, and they were as good as I remember them being, though the French onion dip seemed a bit milder than the last time. The grilled hanger steak was tender and lean, but the handcut fries were a tad undercooked as they were before (perhaps that is how they are supposed to be at this restaurant). And the macaroni and cheese with truffle oil and chives was outstanding once again--perhaps one of the best mac and cheese dishes I've had in recent memory. Drinks included a Franziskaner Weiss beer (mild and slightly fruity) and a Pimm's Cup with muddled cucumber and lemon-lime soda (tart and spicy). All in all, it was a good night at The Local. Perhaps my only gripe is that I wish they had a better beer selection--they do have some good choices, but not enough of them, in my opinion. But that's a minor gripe, and it won't keep me from returning to this nice little spot in West Newton.
Posted on 9/15/10
# 1 Reason to go to The Local? The Parmesan Truffle fries...they are cheap and delicious. They blow the Capital Grille's truffle fries away, at 1/3 the price!
Posted on 9/15/10
I have eaten at the local 3 times since I want to support local gastropubs. Every time I have been disappointed... so much that I will not return.
The fried pickles were tasty and crispy and perhaps the only enjoyable dish. The mussels were tasteless and the broth was watery. The burger was lukewarm and the fries were soggy. Onion rings were also weak.
Lots of other good choices. The local needs a chef who really understands what a gastropub really is about- Farm to table, local ingredients and a choice of beer and wine that is fresh and innovative.
Posted on 9/15/10
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