Something just isn’t right about The Local, a “Gastropub” that has been open for roughly a year in West Newton. There seems to be an identity crises with this place, they call themselves a Gastropub, meaning pub food that has been escalated to another level, and they claim to specialize in local, seasonal ingredients. How clichéd. I can barely notice the Gastropub claim, I mean sure, you don’t see Tuna Sashimi in pubs everyday, but maybe for good reason. What you do find are burgers, Iceberg salads with blue cheese dressing and chicken wings. Wait, The Local has all these things? What am I missing? Maybe they take the traditional and make them better you say, well, based on our meal there, not a chance.
The chef here is the same chef from Isabella’s in Dedham, and if you take a look at that menu, it’s eerily similar. Uninspired, redundant, and uninteresting. Everything about this place screams pub, a local hangout, but on a Thursday night there is a 45 minute wait, as told by the not-so-friendly hostess, who gives me a small window to exit, stressing itcould be even longer, giving the vibe that it’s not worth the wait. But it’s way too nice on the interior to be just a pub, kind of like a Not Your Average Joe’s vibe, but a little classier. You come in expecting good, solid grub, but once you sit down, you feel like maybe the food will be better, the service top notch. After all, the wait was this long, the decor is nice, the music is not too loud, but there’s the menu again, dumbed-down with word like: “small things, flatbread things, and bigger things.”
But we’re here for burgers, and maybe some deep-fried pickles. The pickles are a disaster, fried they are not, battered they are not, but warm? Sure, they’ve been warmed, but that’s it. Great, $5 for hot pickles and a poor attempt at a spicy mayo. The burgers are just okay, the bread is awkward, the cheese, once again is not melted, not even close, a huge block of white cheddar sits atop the charred burger, not even melted in the slightest. Am I in the minority here? Are there people who prefer unmelted cheese on a burger? The burger is juicy though, and has decent smoky flavor, which, as we discuss at the table, only masks the lack of flavor everywhere else. The beef is unseasoned and is typical pub fare, it’s a burger you’ve had a million times and it’s boring. It’s supposed to be American Kobe but I call their bluff, and at $10, I know there’s no way it could be. You want real American Kobe? Go to Lucky’s Lounge and get back to me, you’ll taste the difference. The fries are bad too, heavily greased yet somehow undercooked. Limp, pale, and just plain egregious, about a quarter of them are actually seasoned properly and about four of them have bits of parsley sprinkled over them. I’m not a huge shoestring potato guy either, just a preference maybe, but I find them impossible to eat, too small to grab with fingers, I always end up using a fork, and you can forget about dipping them in ketchup, which is no easy feat. There’s no salt and pepper on the table, on any table for that matter, which I wouldn’t have a huge problem with, unless the food was seasoned properly, which it is not. But seasoning is the least of the problems for The Local, which just doesn’t know what it wants to be, kudos to them for packing it in on a Thursday night, but time will tell if they will survive.