Local: creative food for all ages
With a name like Local, this restaurant practically cried out to be featured on EatAroundOKC. The point of our site is to support local Oklahoma City restaurants with honest reviews and open discussion. So, Local had me at hello.
Of course, a name is just a name and I have been anxious to discover how well Local delivers on their concept of locally-sourced, sustainable, creative American food. I’m happy to report that Local’s kitchen, led by the talent of stellar OKC Chef Ryan Parrott, won me over with its food.
“Local takes the best practices of the best restaurants and infuses these with a dedication to our Oklahoma farmers and families,” says Local’s company website. Their slogan is “Modern Food for Modern People” and I think that fits perfectly with their mission. The décor is trendy and the food is fresh and fashionable. This restaurant could exist on a hip corner in Chicago just as easily as it does nestled in a dull strip center corner in Norman.
I love that they stress a seasonal menu, something that is critical if you are using local produce and meat. They have a ravioli and risotto that changes daily ($9 lunch, $16 dinner), and daily specials that rotate based on ingredient availability. This means there is always something new to try at Local. It also means that items listed in this review may or may not be available when you visit. Lunch items range in price from about $8 for soup and salad to $12 for salmon. Dinner jumps up a bit, ranging from the burger at $10 to $20 for Lobster Arrabiatta.
On our first trip to Local, my husband and I sat at the bar because the place was packed on a weeknight. I had the Beef Stroganoff (see a pic), which was the special that day. The pasta was freshly-made and the sauce was to die for. Unfortunately, the cut of meat I had was a little fatty, but overall the dish had great flavor. The fresh pasta really made a huge difference.
My husband had the Moroccan Lamb ($18 – see a pic) and absolutely loved the sauce it came with. The meat was tender and cooked perfectly. We enjoyed the portion sizes, which are reasonable. They generally offer enough food to fill you up, but not so much that you feel the urge to overeat.
Having enjoyed our dinner visit, we headed back for brunch (available Sundays from 10am to 3pm). This is where I really fell in love with Local. It’s a unique experience, a bit quirky even. A set menu means there’s no ordering required. As soon as you sit down, the staff begins bringing your food. Essentially, this brunch (a steal at $12.95 per person) is like a high-quality all-you-can-eat buffet except it’s presented beautifully, course-by-course, at your table.
Our first course included fruit, cheese, homemade blueberry muffins and scones. Next came a platter of scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, two kinds of house-made sausage, bacon and smoked gouda grits. This is all served family-style and they will bring seconds around if you ask. We had plenty of food for our table of four. The eggs also came with three homemade sauces, all of which were unique and tasty. I am not a fan of grits, yet I could have made a meal of nothing but those gouda grits and been very happy.
Finally, the “dessert” course came. Ours featured their Peach Bellini Pancakes (see a pic). I am not exaggerating when I say these might have been the best pancakes ever. Crisp on the outside, fluffy in the middle and filled with spices that were blended well, each bite was a treat. They are also served with syrup already on them. A friend commented how she likes the fact that everything is served as the chef intends it to be eaten. There is no ketchup on the table and no jug full of syrup to slather on your pancakes (though I am sure we could have requested both if we had so desired).
Some elements of the brunch change from week to week (like the pancake flavor). Overall, I loved the concept. It required no thought, allowed us to start eating right away and really enjoy the company at our table without the constant “what are you going to get” conversation. I am a little sad, however, that I may never have that special pancake again.
Local looks to cater to the busy professional with a local market selling high-quality handmade foods to take home or for lunch the next day (the turkey lasagna is great at $9). They also cater to kids and parents with “Localville,” a fun children’s area that is available at no additional cost so parents can enjoy their meal in peace while their kids enjoy romping around the adult-supervised playroom. Older children can enjoy meals from the kids menu with their parents before heading off to play, or they can eat in Localville. Note, Localville is not available on Sundays so families always dine together for the fabulous brunch I just described.
Though a bit of a drive for those outside of Norman, I think Local is worth the trip. And for Normanites, I’d say it’s a no-brainer. Give it a try. And if you’ve been, let us know what you think in the comments below.
More Photos from Local
Most photos by Nicole McDaniel Photography