Offers Tasty Food to Accompany Jameson Drinks
I had been to The Local before, grabbing a few drinks with friends, either during happy hour or while watching a soccer game. It’s an enjoyable place to hang out for either occasion. The pub-appropriate decor instantly whisks you away from the Midwest, and the patronage is wonderfully diverse. You can’t get much better for a game-watching venue. But I never had considered it a place one would go specifically to eat, and in that sentiment, I believe I am in good company.
Not that The Local is hurting for business, mind you. The establishment sells more Jameson Irish Whiskey than any other bar or restaurant on Planet Earth. Quite proud of that fact, it’s happy to showcase two signature Jameson cocktails: traditional Irish Coffee ($6) and Jameson Julep ($6). If a heavy-duty mint julep isn’t your usual favorite, give The Local’s very mild and refreshing version a try. It’s hard to go wrong with Irish coffee, but I found The Local’s to be exceptionally smooth—not too bitter, not too sweet.
We sampled one of the flights for $15. They technically are off-menu, but their existence is almost a foregone conclusion for a bar that prides itself on its Jameson selection. I’m a Scotch drinker myself, and a die-hard fan of just about every smoky, wicked single malt made north of Hadrian’s Wall. I didn’t expect to enjoy Jameson as much as I did. It has less of a bite than Scotch, thanks to its extra trip through distillation, and that simple modification results in a noticeably smoother finish. Age affects the whiskey as well. A flight is the perfect way to understand how a different distillation method, or another few years in the barrel, affects the liquor. One could take a class, and come away with the same understanding. Better yet, belly up to the bar at The Local. Isn’t education grand?
This was the point in the evening when many of The Local’s patrons drop out. That is sad, because the kitchen also has something to offer a student of life.
If you’re just in for appetizers, Chicken Shots ($7.99) is one of the signature dishes. The “shots” portion of the name refers to the tangy Irish whiskey glaze that coats these lightly battered chicken tenders. Perhaps it’s the fresh scallions that give this appetizer a decidedly Asian feel, but nevertheless, it goes swimmingly with Jameson. Sweet Potato Stuffed Mushrooms ($6.99), too, are made to share. Just be sure to cut into one, and let the steam out, before popping it in your mouth. The smell of the garlic and bleu cheese topping is altogether too tempting.
It was with the Mission Salad ($7.99), however, that Head Chef Jason Hicks led us decidedly out of “pub” territory, and into restaurant fare. This pretty plate of sun-dried mission figs, Granny Smith apples, cambozola cheese, and toasted walnuts over a bed of greens can be topped with your choice of chicken, tofu, sirloin steak, or salmon skewers for an additional $4. The figs and the cambozola are a match made in dairy heaven. If you haven’t had opportunity to try cambozola, it is a rich, creamy bleu cheese that derives its apt name from both Camembert and Gorgonzola. Ask your server’s advice on the dressing. My dining partner and I found the creamy poppy seed to be perfect, especially with the salmon skewers. But the citrus vinaigrette is rumored to be fantastic.
Of course, The Local couldn’t hold its head high if it didn’t serve Fish & Chips ($11). Hicks’s generous version is light and flaky, with housemade fries and tartar sauce.
If you’re in the mood for something a little heartier, Lighthouse Farm Meatloaf ($14.99) is absolutely breathtaking. Bottom line, it was the best meatloaf I ever have had, yet to say that almost doesn’t give the dish its full due. Meatloaf usually doesn’t garner much praise, but if everyone had this meatloaf, critics quickly would change their tune. At The Local, the meatloaf—light, flavorful, and moist—is topped with fragrant wild mushroom sauce. Homemade mashed potatoes and crispy fried onions complete the dish. Nothing’s left to say except “bravo.”
The Local offers its Trinity of Temptation if you’re left wanting something sweet after the main course. Three individually sized, housemade desserts are more than enough for two to share: chocolate mousse cake, cheesecake, and apple crème brûlée tart. Each can be ordered individually for just $2.50, but with the Trinity at only $6.99, all three are an absolute steal.
931 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.