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Apr 26, 2010 07:03 AM

The Local Kitchen and Wine Bar, poor final impressions

It's very hard not to love this place (the Local Kitchen and Wine Bar) as soon as you walk into this former antique store turned local boite. I love sitting elbow to elbow with people and when we were taken to a table that barely sat the two of us and a third chair was removed, these are all very good first impressions for me. Our server was green yet attentive and pleasant. We drank Malivoire Chardonnay which I believe goes for $20.00 a bottle and was sold to us for $8.00 a glass again, I get the feeling I'm in the right place. We share four courses, to start the lolo rosa salad for $10.00 comes with roasted squash and gorgonzola dressing, would of just liked and extra dash of dressing and it would of been perfect, everything is very well matched here, second the gnocchi, now maybe I'm just ignorant and have never heard of some regional variation in Italy where they smoke the potatoes but I strongly feel that there is a time for creativity and there is a time to follow tradition. Even (as in the case here) if you're going to use a piping bag to shape your gnocchis, don't get all creative when it comes to comfort food. That is just my opinion but I feel strongly about it. Having said all of that, the gnocchis were perfectly executed. We had the Ontario whitefish sided with a dandelion salad, very good, only complaint is that I feel we deserved a little more than a 3oz portion for the $15.00 we paid for it. Dessert was fantastic, the name slips my mind at the moment.
Now so far, everything that I have said makes this place worthy of return visits and I am not against returning. However the espressos come, the creme could of been better but they are still totally passable espressos, when we try them we both agree they taste like ones we'd get at a Portuguese sports bar in our neighbourhood. Not that there is anything wrong with that but Local wears its food philosophy on its sleeve. We ask what brand of coffee they use, our server tells us the coffee beans come pre portioned, pre packaged and she presents us with one. I quickly scan for a fair trade logo and find none, I look at the brand name, I've seen the logo around before. It's an Italian brand that I can't remember. As highly hypocritical as it is for them not to serve fair trade or god forbid organic coffee we forgive them since we've had such a good time. We just wish they wouldn't act so righteous about what they're serving. Before we leave we both visit the washroom and both noticed the same thing. Flat screen tv which is replaying the same picture, it could pass of as novel and slightly pretentious in another establishment but for a place that preaches sustainability we couldn't help but shake our heads.

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  1. Hi chef - I'm finding your review, and especially the title, to be more than a little misleading. If I'm understanding correctly, you were mostly very happy with the food. Your only complaints were the coffee, in that it was prepackaged? Or not locally sourced? Or fair trade? And then the loop running on the flat screen tv 'cuz it wasn't...sustainable?

    Okay, maybe it's a small gaffe that they don't serve ethically grown coffee, given their credo, but other than that, it sounds like you had a pretty lovely dining experience. Why the glass half-empty review?

    6 Replies
    1. re: peppermint pate

      Because this is what I caught them on, who knows what else they have going on.

      1. re: chef_vegabond

        Indeed! But where? Who can remember!

        1. re: Herb

          You "caught" them having a tv in the bathroom that was showing the same picture? What does that have to do with anything? And it sounds like they were more than willing to divulge the coffee they were using so I'm not really sure what the big "catch" is there either.

          1. re: jamesm

            How were they "righteous"? How are they "highly hypocritical"?

            I have seen their website, and didn't catch anything about fair trade coffee unless I am missing something. I did notice one statement - "provide quality food, grown by local farmers, using sustainable methods". I believe that they met this criteria according to yours and others reviews I have read.

            I'm not really sure how a TV goes against 'sustainable farming' efforts. ???

            How green do you want to eat? This is a personal choice, and you have the right to blacklist any restaurant if they don't meet your green checklist. One can definitely take this to the nth level if they so choose.

            After reading your post, I personally would have labeled it “Great meal at Local, no fair trade coffee”.

            A 'green' fact - A coffee maker uses about 7 times the power of a 32" flat screen.

            1. re: Derksen

              That makes no sense. Do you mean if you're running both machines (TV and coffee) for 24 hours?

              1. re: haggisdragon

                Coffee maker: 800w. 32" LCD: 100-125w. Give or take. I was comparing usage over the same duration.

                Back to the food.

    2. I think that I get chef's meaning here, although - I have to agree with the others - Your posts’ title perceivably foreshadows a review of a bad dining experience. Which I doubt that you had. I went here for the first time on Friday night, and my wife and I had a blast. We walked into a packed house just a little after 7 on a Friday night with no reservations. They quickly sat us in the only two vacant seats in the restaurant. Luckily for us these were at the front (communal) table shared with a friendly foursome. Before long we were drunk with the atmosphere of this little warm spot and sharing food and wine with our new neighbours. We ordered their house special pancetta (this must be tried by any true smoked meat enthusiasts – either as a starter or a desert) the lola rossa salad, a crostini starter , and eventually the Gnocchi and Francobolli dishes. All of which was very enjoyable, although admittedly portions of some of the meals did seem a little unbalanced. But, all were excellent. Nothing on the wine list really struck a cord with me either– but my wife who enjoys white wine over red seemed to like her selections. Eventually we settled our dinner down with a few jäger’s shared with our lovely server, and we were on our merry way. We didn’t make it to desert or to the washroom, interestingly enough… so I didn’t get the chance to be deflated by a similar experience to Chef’s own investigative discovery’s – although, if I had – I highly doubt that it would have deterred us from return again.

      Parkdale should welcome with open arms.

      1. So, chef_vegabond is saying the coffee bean used is not fair trade?
        Can he tell us what the brand is?

        The beans are pre-portioned/packaged, so there might not be a fair trade label?

        I guess Ontario doesn't have fair trade coffee growers locally?

        5 Replies
          1. re: 5andman

            I grow fair trade coffee in a shady spot of my backyard, but this year's crop is already sold.

            1. re: foodyDudey

              .....and a lucrative little business indeed you have their, foodyDudey.
              A funny little story I have for you all and it made me think of Local Kitchen and Wine Bar. I was going through Oakville yesterday when suddenly hunger struck, so, chef_vegabond does what he always does when he's in the suburbs, he stops into Lick's for a nature burger. Guess what, Licks serves fair trade coffee! Local Kitchen and Wine Bar doesn't but Lick's does.

              1. re: chef_vegabond

                Tell us, what type of coffee does Local use?

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Folks, I gave the restaurant 3 stars for an overall dining experience. My title was poor final impressions. So I think I was fair enough with them on that end.
              I cut and pasted this from Local's web site.
              Local will maintain a fundamental respect for our food, where it comes from, and the people who help cultivate it.
              ........and the people who help cultivate it that is unless you are one of the worlds worse exploited workers, a third world plantation labourer.
              This really isn't about voting for party x or party z. The flat screen TV was kind of funny when just right below it was a dual flush toilet.
              I guess the problem for me is that I've been into where my food comes from and how it is produced since before it was cool. There are many reasons to be concerned about it and the fact that it is trendy shouldn't be your only one, that is the case with Local.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chef_vegabond

                I love Local. I love the warm, cozy and energetic vibe, I love the "Parkdale-ness" of it, and I love the food. The slow food/locavore approach to running a business is expensive and difficult to sustain — just look at Jamie Kennedy's struggles. The all-or-nothing approach might not really be that useful, in the long view. Imagine all restaurants could adopt a fairly ethical approach to food and business, and remain financially viable. Wouldn't that be better than having places like Local closing up shop because they aren't perfectly, one hundred percent "green"? I personally drink only fair trade, organically-grown coffee, and I don't think I'd order a coffee from Local next time I go, but hesitate to condemn a business that is trying to do the right thing in a world where that is the hardest road to take. Especially a place that serves gnocchi that heavenly.

                Jamie Kennedy
                9 Church St, Toronto, ON M5E1M2, CA