Here’s a word of warning: When you go to enter Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant, march straight ahead and open the wide glass door. Don’t make the same mistake I did—which was to stare at the broad expanse of glass, figure it must be a window, then try to enter the restaurant through the locked storefront entrance on the left. The lesson here? Sometimes beautiful design can make you feel stupid.
Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant feels like the hipster loft of your imaginary friend who writes for Wallpaper and listens to nothing but Hotchip. Cool in both senses of the word.
The food was average, verging on pretty damn good. The Pear and Cheese appetizer—Roquefort served with Caramelized Pear, Hazelnuts, Mache and Black Pepper Gastrique—was a nice way to start. I moved on to the Roasted Parsnip Soup with Maple Syrup and Walnuts, which was apparently vegan, and quite well-balanced. The walnuts gave the soup a nice bit of heft. Then I opted for a salad instead of a pizza or the solitary vegetarian entrée, which was a Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage and Brown Butter. (Thankfully, my friend went for the ravioli and I got to mooch some. The sage was fried and tasty as all get out, and the brown butter was done just right.)
Here’s the mysterious thing, though. None of Local’s salads are vegetarian. The Butter and Watercress comes with Bacon. The Ceasar with obvious Anchovies. The Nicoise with the usual Tuna, and the Boquerones and Shaved Fennel, well, with Boquerones (anchovies with a fancy-pants name). Bummer. I chose the Fennel, sans fishies, and hoped for the best. Usually, leaving out a key ingredient—especially one that adds so much punch—is a recipe for disaster. But my salad turned out pretty swell without the sardines. Its Orange Segments, Sherry Vinaigrette and Roasted Pistachios stood on their own, all bright and smiley with citrus.
The Tomato and Basil Pizza was a bit of a disappointment. (Especially in a town where places like Pizzeria Delfina have set the bar at a staggering height.) Maybe we would’ve had more luck with the Roasted Mushroom and Green Olive Pizza. Who knows? I’m sure I’ll back to test that theory. If not for the food, then at least their lengthy selection of wines by the glass. Mamma needs her vino, no two ways about it.
I know a lot of folks here in San Francisco like to bitch about our sudden flush of wine bars, but me, I couldn’t be happier. Like, if someone rigged a Foam Dome with two Riedel glasses and a couple of curly straws, I’d be first in line to buy one. Does that make me an alcoholic?
Wait. Don’t answer that.