he Local Table. It just sounds down to earth, inviting and comfortable.
And it is, all of those and a lot more. Local Table makes every effort to be as local and sustainable as possible. Having said that, it is not always as easy as it sounds in a climate like ours in a city this size.
Chef/owner Tuck Curren and his staff have been at this game for a long time. Tuck also owns Biga Vino E Cucina, just a few doors away from Local Table, 4329 S. Peoria.
Reviewing a place like this is a pleasure for several reasons. First and foremost the food and service are excellent. Next the menu is a wonderful eclectic mix of national and international fusion. There's a little bit there from everywhere and for everyone. Plus the restaurant makes an effort to be supportive of the local economy and agriculture community.
And then there are all the additional offerings available: a three-course dinner menu for $20; The Market menu; the Saturday and Sunday Mexican brunch menu; a "meatless Monday" menu -- a movement gaining popularity across the country especially on the sustainable front -- and Tuesday wine dinners.
We entered the dining room on a Sunday night around 8pm. The bar, while small, was full.
The décor is clean, modern, and welcoming and we noticed that there had been some remodeling since our last visit. Although it was nice before, the updates improve the overall atmosphere as well as restaurant's flow.
Our server was very professional -- a gentleman named John -- and as we visited with him we learned that he had spent many years at the Bodean Restaurant and Market, and joined Curren when the owner bought out Bodean's portion of Local Table and Biga.
The server was charming and relaxed without being too familiar, and proved to be an expert at all things related to the Local Table menu. He gave excellent recommendations, followed through nicely, and made the experience very pleasurable. Ask for him if you go.
We ordered a pair of appetizers, a flatbread pizza with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts. Rich and tasty.
But the real surprise was the pork tostada with avocado and a tasty corn relish. I can't wait to go back for more. The pork was supremely smoky, moist and tender -- and plentiful. Placed on a bed of fresh, creamy avocado, served atop of a crisp tortilla and topped with a corn and tomato relish it was probably the best thing we ate all night. Really good.
The two appetizers came in at $8.95 and $7.95, respectively, and were worth every penny.
A few other standouts from the appetizer menu: roast tilapia fish taco with Asian slaw and smoked jalapeño vinaigrette ($7.95); lime and coconut shrimp with red curry sauce ($9.95) and buffalo-style pork ribs with bleu cheese, carrots and celery ($8.95).
We shared a delightful salad of baby spinach, warmed Brie, strawberries and pine nuts. The nuts were nicely toasted and the Brie was outstanding, creamy and delicious. It's not exactly strawberry season yet, but the berries had some sweetness to them, and it was all tossed, but thankfully not drowned (as so often is the case), in a delightful sweet vinaigrette dressing that was a perfect compliment to the tangy astringency of the brie and the nuttiness of the pignoli. John was kind enough to have the kitchen split it for us, and it just right for a pre-entrée salad for two but would have easily been an entrée for one which it is designed to be ($9.95). It was a tough choice and we really had to deliberate between that and the roast chicken, avocado and mango salad ($9.95); honey-soy glazed salmon salad with oranges, peanuts and wasabi vinaigrette ($10.95) and corn chowder with potatoes and bacon ($4.75).
After a lot of deliberation between the Cajun meat loaf with macaroni and cheese ($12.75), the rotisserie rack of pork with sweet potato wedges and salsa verde ($16.75), and the rotisserie chicken on bread salad ($15.25) John swayed me toward a chicken ballantine with a cheese and mushroom stuffing. The dish was topped with a Romesco sauce -- essentially a rustic nut, red bell pepper and olive oil pesto -- that frequently contains tomatoes, as it did this night.
A ballantine is the warm version of a gallantine, a roulade of some whole meat muscle -- either chicken, beef, pork, lamb, game or fish and is technically filled with a forcemeat, herbs and vegetables. This didn't have the forcemeat filling, but was advertised as a roulade, which it was. Briefly, the chicken breast is pounded out to make it larger and thinner for rolling and cooking, filled with the chef's choice of stuffing and rolled. Often the skin, which has been reserved, is re-wrapped around it, and it is tied for roasting. In a nice twist this one was coated in breadcrumbs and pan-fried, then finished in the oven. It was quite good with a nice crunch to the outside.
The décor is clean, modern, and
welcoming and we noticed that there had been some remodeling
since our last visit. Although it was nice before, the updates
improve the overall atmosphere as well as restaurant’s flow.
Katie vacillated between a pair of fish options, a grilled Atlantic salmon with sautéed greens and roast corn salsa ($18.50) and then opted for halibut oscar, a twist on a classic. ($25.95)
Traditionally, thin slices of veal are sautéed and topped with fresh asparagus spears, crab meat and hollandaise sauce, an egg yolk and butter emulsion with lots of lemon and a touch of Tabasco or cayenne for punch. This was all of that except the veal was replaced with a huge piece of fresh Alaskan halibut. While good, the fish was unfortunately overcooked, which is particularly fatal with a dry white fish such as halibut. The crab was plentiful and excellent, the asparagus was cooked perfectly and the sauce was tangy and rich, although a bit thick for a hollandaise. It should have the creamy texture of slightly thick cream, but this was more of a mayonnaise consistency. Not surprising since hollandaise is essentially a cooked mayonnaise, but it was difficult to cover the fish with it.
From the entrée section some other notables were: roast rainbow trout with sautéed spinach and cherry tomatoes ($17.50) and Mexican poblano, spinach and black bean "lasagna" with goat cheese ($12.95).
Curren also offers a sandwich section with a burger, a catfish BLT with chipotle chili tartar sauce, and a Cubano Panini. Most of the sandwiches are $8.95, with the exception of a peppered steak with aged cheddar, which is $13.95, and a house-made corned beef and pastrami combo for $10.95.
Local Table's menu is quite extensive and very diverse with many great items and an excellent variety, all of which is well executed and comfortably served.
Share this article: