A holiday rerun for your enjoyment (or disappointment, whatever the case may be):
Coming off a six year media love-fest, the guys at Muss & Turner’s, Todd Mussman and Ryan Turner, expanded to Joel’s former space, calling it Local Three. The third partner is chef Chris Hall, a self-taught cook and Atlanta native.
First, I must tell you the directions on their website are completely confusing. I was pretty sure I knew how to get there off I-75, remembering my two visits to Joel years ago. But admittedly, I have a condition I call “direction dyslexia”, so I can’t trust my instincts where directions are concerned. B was meeting me there and helped me get to the parking garage, along with a security officer. Once at the right building, we still had a hard time finding the restaurant. It was a little frustrating.
All the frustration melted away as soon as we walked into the warm and inviting space. There was no hint of its former stuffy self. Taupe and deep purple walls are a soothing backdrop to the rustic wood furnishings, a trio of pig paintings, a velvet Elvis, and soft, flattering lighting. It is gorgeous.
The trio’s sense of humor is immediately evident, not only in the kitschy decor but in the hilarious menu descriptions, like the “chicken liver mousse a.k.a. meat butter”. I love it that they don’t take themselves, or the food, too seriously.
Like at M & T’s, these boys use as much locally sourced produce and meat as possible. From the design of the space to the menu, it’s as if Abattoir and Miller Union had a precocious child. You will notice that every price on the drink menu ends in a “3″.
B and I were excited about our dining experience, having heard only good things about Local Three. We wanted to start off with a glass of red wine, both of us choosing the Guenoc Victorian Claret, described as “a Big One”…..no surprise there!
On to appetizers, we tried a couple of cheeses and two selections of charcuterie because they were made in-house by Mussman and listed under the heading “Notorious P.I.G.”. Gotta love it. Served with pear compote, honey, and crisp flatbread, I liked the presentation, and it was just perfect with the wine.
B became fixated by the menu’s section called “Today” featuring items that are limited in quantity. In particular, she had her heart set on the salad of Hammock Hollow Farms baby Spring lettuce, radish, Blue cheese, and herb croutons. It didn’t excite me, but the salad of Winter greens on the regular “Appetizers” section certainly did. I make my own Winter greens salad so I was curious to see how Local Three’s version would compare.
A compilaton of frissee, dried apricots, cherries, raisins, toasted walnuts, and blue cheese, it was not as good as it sounded due to the salty, lackluster dressing. My salad kicks their salad’s ass. B’s greens also suffered under a over-salted dressing she described as juvenile. Both servings were large enough to share.
For soups we again chose one from “Today”, an irresistible dish called “Hot Crab on Crab Action”, Charleston she-crab soup topped with Alaskan King crab claws. If you are unfamiliar with she-crab soup, it is made with the roe from the female crab (hense she-crab), cream and sherry. The soup is usually rich and creamy but I found this version to be somewhat lighter with an abundance of crab meat, both in the soup and on top. I thought it was very good but B was not impressed.
B tried the Chesapeake Bay wild striped bass for her entree, while I went with the grilled Cervena venison. Her fish, served with honey roasted turnips, rutabega, escarole, lemon, and dates, hit all the right notes. It was a fantastic dish.
I ordered my venison medium-rare. With black pepper spaetzle, spring Vidalia onion and huckleberry jus, it was a hearty plate. My meat was, unfortunately, on the rare side, and not as tender as one would wish for. A solid Winter dish.
Chef Hall stopped by inquiring about our meal. He’s a big dude. I’m not sure if he knew we were food writers but chances are, he would have visited either way.
B and I rarely skip dessert, this time sharing the pecan pie. My first impression was that it was more crust than filling. A few nibbles of it with the vanilla ice cream on top was more than enough sugar.
I wanted to love it, I wanted the three local pigs to wow us. No doubt, I will try Local Three again, if not only for its owners’ sense of humor and commitment to quality. To quote the menu “you can’t argue with delicious”.