Monday, September 28, 2009

Local Local Local

"Ya can't out network the networks, so we're gonna be the best and only source for local."

A mantra spouted by one of my news directors in Lexington, I always respected the ideology. Local news outlets will never cover national news the way the big guys can, so it's best they stick to fleshing out the local angles.

The same could be said for Cincinnati's dining scene.

Gone are the days when businessmen shelled out hundreds to entertain clients and couples saved up to spend a night on a town for an anniversary or other happy occasion.

These days, people dine out often, and typically at more affordable venues. Enter Cincinnati's latest dining establishment - Local 127.

A lot has been said about the 4th Street restaurant, some of it has prompted passionate discussion, other articles detail executive chef Steven Geddes' extensive career as a chef and master sommelier, and first impressions of the restaurant.

In the interest of avoiding some of the politicking that happens in regards to Cincinnati's dining industry, I'm going to refrain from comparing Local 127 as it relates to Pigall's, Jean Robert de Cavel and other historic dynamics.

Yes, we loved Pigall's. Yes, we love JRdC. No, we don't like some of the stories we've heard about players in the Jean Robert/Relish Restaurant Group.

As fierce a loyalist as I am, I'm trying to change my philosophy about some of Cincinnati's restaurants.

I liken the scenario to when a favorite co-worker is dismissed by management - the replacement hire doesn't deserve to be punished for the sins (or poor judgment/ill behavior/negativity) of the one calling the shots.

Local 127 deserves a fair shake.

We dashed inside amid a spectacular, torrential downpour Saturday night, longing for a few bites to eat and a couple cocktails. I don't want to belabor the details of what we sampled - we only tried a few of the pickled/cured elements and small plates. I'd like to give Local 127 more time and another try before I nitpick about the menu offerings.

That said, we thoroughly enjoyed the beans and bacon, Italian style risotto with mushrooms and terrine with green beans.

I was not dining at Local 127 to scrutinize the details (and didn't take any notes/pics of the experience), I was dining to enjoy the company of a friend and try out a new spot.

Impeccable, attentive service was the first thing we noticed (and fellow diner Alex Triantafilou).

Within a few minutes of our being seated, Chef Geddes greeted us and explained a bit of the menu concept - local food and American wines. Like local news, many Cincinnati restaurants have discovered there's a benefit to focusing on local - locally grown produce, protein and other foodstuff.

Friendlier price points are a plus, too.

Chef joined us again to present the first portion of our meal, generously offering a few other items from the pickled and cured menu.

Sipping on cocktails from the nearby bar, the tender stopped by and asked if I liked my Manhattan, or if it needed any tweaking. It was perfect.

The server was quick to accommodate our whims, and when he honestly revealed his lack of extensive knowledge about the wine list, he obliged our request to ask Chef Geddes which bottle would best compliment our nibbles.

Not only did Geddes present us with a great bottle that has sentimental meaning for him, he shared tastes of two other reds that punctuated our meal.

General Manager Craig Nuncio visited with us at the end of the evening, explaining Local 127 is not fully booking its tables to allow for first rate service as the restaurant gets off the ground. Nuncio also spilled a secret - the space formerly known as Twist will NOT be re-named Tonic Union, as previously mentioned.

After leaving Local 127, we peeked behind the curtain blocking the view of the old Twist space - I saw a mishmash of furniture but couldn't immediately discern any changes. Definitely a "Watch This Space" scenario.

My dining companion was melancholy about the change from Pigall's to Local 127, but we enjoyed our meal and experience at the reinvented venue.

I'm looking forward to another trip to 4th Street. A champion and supporter of Downtown Cincinnati, I want this establishment to succeed like many others in the vicinity.

Success of any kind in Downtown Cincinnati is a win for all of us.

Good luck, Chef Geddes, et al.
(Sidebar: Speaking of championing the Queen City, two thumbs down to Cadillac Ranch and the poor management decisions attached to quashing Saturday night's MidPoint Music Festival performances. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.)

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


Tina L. Hook said...

I have read nothing but bad reviews on this one so happy to hear a fresh take on the place. Fingers crossed. Hoping for the best.

5chw4r7z said...

I guess I'm weird too, I don't give a rats ass who owns the joint as long as its good.
Still haven't made it in there to eat yet.