Local Bar + Kitchen – South Side Pittsburgh
Our trip to the Southside for a late lunch was not off to a good start. My wife was driving and found a parking spot on Carson Street right in front of Rocco’s Beauty Shop by where the homeless hippies and Rastafarians hang-out*. After she completed her less than textbook parallel park job, we got out of the car and immediately realized that neither of us had any quarters to feed the meter. Therefore we had to pull out and head over to the pay lot on Wrights Way off of 18th Street to park. Next we ventured to the ATM on 18th Street so my wife could deposit some checks but the machine must have just eaten because it kept spittin’ our checks back out. We were both getting hungrier and grumpier by the minute and the next thing you know we’re arguing about the management of our joint checking and savings accounts**. Lucky for us Local Bar + Kitchen was a quick walk across the street and we were promptly seated at a nice table upfront in the beautiful Pittsburgh afternoon sunshine. The imminent arrival of food and alcohol and the starting of the Penn State football game helped tremendously in getting our moods back up and the squabble quickly passed.
I’ve been looking forward to going to Local ever since I had their Perogie Soup during the Southside Soup Contest back in February. I was imagining from their name that the establishment would be a slightly pretentious restaurant which utilizes buzzwords such as “seasonal”, “sustainable” and “organic” to describe their attempts at high-class gastronomy, and the décor would pay homage to the historic Southside neighborhood. Though there are some references to local ingredients on the menu, the theme does not noticeably tie into the roots of the Steel City or any local history. Much like Betty Draper, the appearance of Local is nice to look at but lacks any real nuance.
The lunch menu was comprised of salad and sandwich options and I was torn between the Caprese Salad and the Carved Turkey and Cranberry Chutney sandwich. I asked the waitress which dish she would recommend and she made the decision easy by informing me that the kitchen was out of mozzarella. My wife ordered the chicken Caesar salad and we decided to start with a side of fresh-cut fries as an appetizer. The fries turned out to be sub-par at best and served as a precursor to an even worse main course. The bacon on my sandwich was cold and fatty and the apples had all the life cooked out of them. The ciabatta bread was also bland and didn’t help elevate this sandwich to even Panera Bread’s level. The cinnamon-sweet potato wedges that came as a side were the only highlight in an otherwise awful culinary experience, and even they were a little too greasy for my tastes.
Final Call: The service was friendly and capable, the beer selection appeared above average, and the attractive sidewalk view and spacious dining area should give Local a great chance to become an integral part of Southside’s nightlife scene. Unfortunately on this afternoon my sandwich was a huge disappointment and the fresh-cut fries made me mourn the potatoes that had to give up their lives for such an unappetizing side dish. My wife really liked her salad so I think I’ll give Local a mulligan this time and just chalk it up to a bad kitchen day.
* If you pinpoint this location on Google Maps there are actually hippies sitting on the sidewalk in the picture.
** We got married last September and since we’re both employed and in our early thirties we’ve had many years to develop our own financial management habits. This has made the process of amalgamating our finances a bit tumultuous at times due to the divergence of our individual administrative philosophies. It’s probably similar to what France and Germany have gone through to make the Euro work. Our cats play the part of Ireland, Greece, and Spain since they don’t help add anything financially yet they still benefit from the sovereign’s economic stability.