Local 44

Señor Lanky and I have been waiting for Local 44 with baited breath for months, every since Brendan “Spanky” Hartranft confirmed the rumor of its West Philly opening one Sunday brunch as we gobbled fried pickles at Memphis Taproom. I immediately signed up for the mailing list, I’ve checked the website obsessively, I’ve bike past slowly and looked in the windows. Finally. Finally, Local 44 has opening in my beloved neighborhood, West Philly. A visit was the first thing on my “To-Do” list when I returned to Philadelphia after the holidays.

Spinach Croquettes with vegan garlic herb sauce
Spinach Croquettes with vegan garlic herb sauce

I ordered the spinach croquettes and was surprised when they arrived – they were huge, and more closely resembled a latke, if latkes were made of mashed potatoes. The flavor was light, the inner texture creamy and the outer a contrasting extra crispy deep fried. Topped with a rich vegan cream and herb sauce, I gobbled them up. A good green garnish would have made them appear a little prettier on the plate. Since Local 44 is just as much about beer as food (if not more) I drank a perfectly crisp Bear Republic XP Pale Ale.

Oyster (Mushroom) 'Po Boy Sandwich
Oyster (Mushroom) 'Po Boy Sandwich

One of my favorite things about Memphis Taproom, and now Local 44, is their veggie and vegan options. The Oyster (Mushroom) ‘Po Boy intrigued me, and I wasn’t disappointed. I had forgotten that oyster mushrooms have such a dense, chewy texture and the deep fried breading added even more texture. Tomatoes, lettuce and some tasty sauce had me hooked. Unfortunately, after devouring the croquettes first, I had to leave most of the huge bread roll and hand-cut fries behind. Had I eaten the whole roll with the mushrooms, however, the sandwich would probably have been a bit too dry – maybe a nice juicy slaw instead of the shredded lettuce and a little more sauce?

Because everyone from the neighborhood seemed to be coming in that night, we were lucky enough to grab some seats at the bar with friends before it filled, and I enjoyed the Maredsous 6, a Belgian ale, and the Victory Hop Wallop, extra-hoppy on cask while I whiled away a wonderful night. It’s hard for a restaurant to live up to so much excitement and hype. If they continue to work out the food kinks and devote as much time to the food menu as the beer menu, Local 44 will become one of my staples.

5 thoughts on “Local 44

  1. FYI, bear republic uses gelatin in their beers.

    i went with friends to local 44 tonight. i was kind of disappointed by the mushroom po boy. it did not look like your picture – the mushroom chunks were much smaller. it was very dry too. i’ll definitely go back there, but i was hoping for the greatness that is the memphis taproom (never had a bad meal there) and did not quite get it. one of the other people that were with us got the veggie burger and thought it was no better than what we could microwave at home after a quick stop at the grocery store. 😦

    1. Sorry that you didn’t have the best experience! I know that it’s hard for a place to live up to months of hype. I’d agree that the food could use a little work. I didn’t eat most of the bread with my sandwich, but I can see how it would have seemed dry if I had. I think the mushroom ‘po boy could use some more sauce, and a nice juicy slaw instead of just the cabbage shreds!

  2. We had the chance to check out Local 44 recently, since a couple FoodGuys live in the ‘hood. I think that right now the beer selection is its “saving grace.”

    I don’t think the food was anything extraordinary; we had the same experience that Kevin had with the Veggie Burger and the Oyster Po’ Boy was more bread than anything… Hopefully it will improve with time.

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