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Five Things: Local 121, Providence

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Are you an avid eater with a penchant for locally harvested food and drink? Well, it doesn't get any more local than “foodie” haven Local 121. Located in the heart of downtown Providence, this trendy restaurant is ecologically, culturally, and agriculturally sustainable. But does locally sourced food translate to tasty food? Sean DeBobes headed downtown to survey Local 121’s food and drink. Here are the five things he wants you to know...

One. Cheers.

A quick glance at the drink list and it is clear that Local 121 takes great care in crafting an admirable cocktail list. In the spirit(s) of sampling, I opted for something old and something new. I was so glad that my go-to classic, the Manhattan, was in the good hands of bartender Jesse Hedberg. He blends together Woodford Reserve, Dolin Rouge, spiced cherry bitters and adds a house brandied cherry (leave those bright red abominations for children’s ice cream parties). This was a great Manhattan, the cherry notes really shone through. Next up was The Dreyfus ,(paying homage to the former hotel that occupied the space) a real cold weather cocktail. Maker’s Mark was blended with Domaine De Canton, plum bitters, fresh lemon, and soda. Warming and refreshing at the same time, this slightly bitter blend was perfect for the season.

Two. Meat Course.

Food citizens of Providence can get a bit spoiled with all of the excellent Charcuterie in town. Local 121 can certainly keep up with all the best in class in this category. The hefty platter was packed with a large assortment of smoked, cured, and pickled bites. Picking favorites from such a carefully curated anthology is a challenge but there were a few big standouts. The slab of smoked bacon from Rutland was flawless, crisp and fatty and flavorful. It instantly elevated the platter. The braised beef croquette was so juicy and delicious that I couldn’t help but want it as an entrée. Of course, the accoutrements really added to this plate as well. The slightly spicy pickled vegetables tasted incredibly fresh and the subtle mustard flavor was much appreciated.

Three. Winter Salad.

I really enjoyed the small plate winter salad. Butternut squash, prepared a few ways (roasted, pureed, and pickled) joined toasted wheatberries, caramelized shallots, pistachios, grilled native corn and arugula. Everything about this dish was worth remembering, the flavors were great, with each bite evolving and showing off for the other ingredients. The varying textures of squash, wheatberry, and nuts really make this a memorable course.

Four. Flavorful Fish.

I’ll admit I was a little skeptical of the Thai green curry. It wasn’t something I would think when someone says Local 121. Well now I have been craving this dish since I had it. Braised native Pollock, littlenecks, and potatoes were all simmered into an excellent, authentic Thai green curry. There was a muted heat that hung around the background of this wonderfully flavorful dish.

Five. Seasonal Bridge.

Many of the flavors I tried at Local 121 were clearly an attempt to bridge the autumn/winter divide and they all succeeded. The sharpest example came by way of dessert, an Indian corn pudding. The warm, nutty corn pudding was accented with an heirloom pumpkin espuma and mint meringues crumble. While some might steer clear of what sounds like a slightly intimidating dessert I would urge anyone with taste buds to jump right in and enjoy this great combination of fall and winter flavors.

Hit “Save”: Local 121. 121 Washington Street, Providence. http://local121.com/home

Would I go back? Absolutely, the cocktails, the food, and the service all add up to one of the best dining experiences in Downcity.

Love food? Follow Sean DeBobes + Five Things on Facebook, and on Twitter @SeanDebobes.


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