I’ll admit, we are creatures of habit. We tend to stick to what we like and now that our date nights are less frequent, we hate to risk a terrible dinner on our one night out. That said, on a recent trip to Colony Grille in Fairfield, CT (one of our favorite stand-by’s), I noticed a new spot just off the highway. Local Kitchen & Beer Bar‘s pub like building glared out at me enough that months later I tapped the memory and suggested it for our night on the town. We headed to the South Norwalk sister location with fingers crossed!
When I think of a pub, I think tiny, hole-in-the-wall, dark and divey. Well, Local breaks the mold. Although its massive corner lot spans multiple store fronts, when you enter, its dark walls, classic pub wood tables, rows of tap craft beers (spanned across a main bar AND the “bourbon bar” in the rear!), and friendly faces give you a sense of a ‘local’ hometown spot. We settled into our favorite spot, the bar!, and ordered The Local Martini, Grey Goose dirty with bleu cheese stuffed olives…yum. It was perfectly chilled and so smooth I had to remind myself to slow down on the straight liquor!
The couple that resided next to us had just finished their meal and did nothing but rant and rave. Their only complaint? The portions were too big, so order the “Little” plates…my kinda gripe! We heeded the advice and started with clams casino, drizzled with rich, creamy butter, crisp, salty bacon, and a hint of jalapeno giving the dish the perfect kick. They went fast and while waiting for the main course I could have barged in on the warm crab and artichoke fondue dip the guy sitting next to us was dipping into! The cheese literally strung off the chips like Christmas lights…legitimately cheerful and jolly.
We followed with steamed mussels, my husbands favorite. They were cooked perfectly and seasoned lightly in a lemon butter sauce, with yet another hint of spice. We ordered a second round of bread just to sop up the bottom of the bowl. A side of brussel sprouts accompanied that would make any five year old jump for joy. They were that good. If you’re looking to con your little one, my own twist on the recipe follows.
As if that weren’t enough, I topped my meal off with a salad (you know, to balance out the bacon and the butter from the rest of the meal 🙂 ). This salad would have any junk food nut a believer in healthy. Fresh kale greens, fluffy quinoa, avocado, cucumber, and seasoned tofu blend to make the perfect good-for-you-but-still-filling dish. The dressing was light and let the other ingredients shine.
I’d go into the other details of the menu and array of local craft beers but I’d rather you check it out for yourself. We ate and drank (more than enough!) for under $100, and only wished we ordered bigger plates (though we left with full tummies) so we had lunch for the next day! Do yourself a favor and check out Local…it’s well worth the risk, even on date night 🙂 If you’re interested in a killer brussel sprout recipe, check out my favorite one, tweaked to mimic Local’s.
Crispy Brussel Sprouts with Apple Cider Maple Gastrique
1 package brussel sprouts
2 slices of good bacon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Halve the brussel sprouts and blanch them in the boiling water (boil them for 2 minutes and take them out promptly).
Chop the bacon into small bits. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle it with EVOO and add the bacon until it is crisp. Remove the bacon and add another drizzle of EVOO and the brussel sprouts. Cook until crisp. Remove.
Add the cider vinegar and scrape up the bits at the bottom of the pan. Add in the maple syrup and reduce until about half. Toss the sprouts in the gastrique, season with salt and pepper and top with the bacon bits to serve.
It can be hard to find new favorites when everyone knows your name at the old ones, but Local is a must try newbie. Its unique blend of dishes and awesome drink list at reasonable prices make me hope I’ll be seeing you there!
Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian