The Local: Cheers to a new neighborhood pub

by Aaron Kayser and Aaron Apple

The Local officially opened its doors on Sunday, Oct. 13, and while it may not be fair to review an establishment’s second night of business like we are doing here, The Local lived up to every expectation we had after much anticipation. Located between Dark Tower Games and Fitness Gear & Training on Railroad Ave., The Local brings together craft brew, delicious food, and most importantly, the local folk. This neighborhood pub also acts as an off-site tap room for Ferndale’s Menace Brewing.
Beautifully polished wood table tops, hardwood floors and unique metal pipe light fixtures decorate the humble inside of Bellingham’s newest public house. A large chalkboard above the bar displays the varied selection of 14 brews on tap at any one time. There are dedicated taps for each local brewery including Boundary Bay, Kulshan, Chuckanut, North Fork, Menace, and Bellingham’s own Bellingham Beer League. The beer is fairly priced with most offered in a 10 or 16 ounce serving, except the stronger beers served in 12 ounce pours. A selection of white and red wine is also available, along with an assortment of other non-alcoholic beverages.
For the establishment’s second night, The Local was busy! Apple and Kayser settled on a table close to the bar, and promptly reviewed the “Liquids” list. To their delight, the beer list did not contain the standard flagship brews, but rather an assortment of harder-to-find offerings, such as a delicious light sour by North Fork ($4/12oz) or the full-bodied strong ale by pFriem ($4/12oz). And yes, both were ordered and enjoyed before our food came.
After perusing the brew, it was time to gaze upon the “Solids” menu. We first noticed the prices, which were quite friendly to those on a budget. Please note that these are “small plates” so don’t expect leftovers, but you will leave satisfied. To start with, Kayser decided on an order of the hand-cut fries ($4). Normally, the fries come with a coconut-chili aioli or remoulade, but he decided to upgrade to the onion-porter gravy ($1). The hot fries came a few sips into his beer, and were smothered in the rich gravy and topped with minced green onions. The gravy was plate-licking good, but Kayser exhibited self-restraint (or he was still too sober).
As his first of two courses, Apple ordered the Chickories and Warm Brussels Sprouts salad ($6), pairing it with the Malty Pale Ale from Menace Brewing. The beer was wonderful, with more flavor than a typical pale. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what that flavor was exactly, but he knew he’d order that beer again – and that’s all that really matters, right? The salad, a bed of greens topped with brussels sprouts, bacon, smoked gouda and mustard vinaigrette, was equally delicious and he could have easily eaten two or three plate’s worth.
Kayser went with the venison banger ($12) as his larger of two plates. This perfect cold weather plate consisted of two house-made venison sausages nestled upon golden roasted parsnips, and topped with a handful of crisp kale chips. And yes, it was also smothered in the onion-porter gravy. As recommended on his menu, he also ordered the King St. Brown by Schooner Exact ($2.50/10oz) to pair with his meal. Kayser thoroughly enjoyed every bite of this meal. The parsnips were perfectly roasted, and with the crunchy kale, added an earthiness to the savory sausage. The brown ale was a great selection as it cut through the savory with a touch of sweet. It was a lovely combination and a pairing he would highly recommend.
Apple also ordered the curried fish and chips ($9). After 30 years on this Earth, he was stunned that he hadn’t tasted many, if any at all, variations on the standard fish and chips. This dish came with curried beer-battered fish and fries, served with coconut-chili aioli. The hint of curry that came through in the fish was a serious game-changer. Apple, stunned with every bite of fish, lost nearly all desire to order plain-jane fish and chips ever again. This dish, and all of the small plates we tried at The Local, leaves you wanting more – an experience we aren’t used to having. Serving sizes are so big at most places, you can leave stuffed and uncomfortable if you don’t watch yourself.
As lovers of craft brew, both Apple and Kayser thought it was a fantastic touch incorporating a beer pairing with each of the food choices on the menu. To keep the pairing experience in tact all year, as the beer selection changes, so will the food. Beside what we ordered, the food menu also included a variety of other choices, such as the chimichurri lamb frites, house-pickled vegetables, Taylor Shellfish steamer clams, coffee rubbed tri-tip, and an arugula and edamame salad.
The Local can be found at 1427 Railroad Ave. and recently launched a new lunch menu as of press time. For more information, call (360) 306-3731 or follow The Local on Facebook.