Local 360, housed in the spot that was once home to Flying Fish, sources most of its food from within 360 miles of its Belltown address.
When does the Hootenanny start?
That was my first thought, sitting in a booth as cozy as a chicken coop simultaneously illuminated by a wax-encrusted silver candelabrum and a wire-caged filament bulb. The soaring, rustic interior of Local 360 looks like a barn, minus the hay bales; there’s even a loft. That and the bar provide the only telltale signs that this bare-bones space was once the flashy Belltown home of Flying Fish.
Local 360 set a goal of sourcing virtually all of its raw materials from within 360 miles of Seattle. Exceptions are made for necessities such as coffee, sugar, lemons and limes, but otherwise they hew to their manifesto. A giant chalkboard displayed near the bar salutes by name the farmers, fishers, artisans and food purveyors whose wares you are about to eat. The bar itself stocks an impressive collection of Northwest spirits, wines and beers. Ask for Sprite, and you are offered instead a delightful Bubble Up lemon-lime soda bottled in Mukilteo.
Breakfast and lunch run concurrently until 3 p.m.; dinner is served from 5 p.m.; a limited happy-hour card bridges the gap. Lunch leans toward the traditional (potpies, macaroni and cheese, roast-beef dip). The dinner menu is a bit more eclectic and ambitious.
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Service veers from thoughtful to perfunctory, sometimes in the same meal. (Those who’d prefer to stay in their jammies and cook at home can shop at the adjacent mercantile, around the corner on Bell.)
What to have for breakfast? I recommend dainty biscuits, buttery tasting with a tender crumb; glorious Mad Hatcher Farm eggs; and sweet, porky baked beans bubbling in a cast-iron skillet. The beans usually come with pork belly, but I opted for a special that substituted a thick slab of gorgeous ham instead.
And speaking of gorgeous, meet the Reuben. Thick-sliced marble rye provides a griddled framework for corned beef pulled into delicate strands, smothered in fresh sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing.
Really good fries escort all sandwiches, including the burger, which is a gem: intensely beefy, nicely charred and plenty juicy. Mustard pickles, ripe tomatoes and crisp lettuce are tucked under its glossy bun, and you won’t regret adding cheddar and thick rashers of bacon as well.
At night, executive chef Mike Robertshaw cuts loose with specials like bacon-wrapped rabbit loin, its peppery pan juices moistening fregola sarda (pasta pearls) and florets of roasted romanesco (pale green summer cauliflower). After trying his excellent bratwurst and boudin blanc, I’d willingly sample any other sausages he makes.
August is peak season for any farm-to-fork establishment, so be sure to eat your fruits and veggies. Go soon for peach and arugula salad woven with bacon bits and fresh goat cheese; it’s dressed in bourbon-mustard vinaigrette so good I hope they bottle it for sale next door. Tomatoes too are at their peak, but that salad suffered from the addition of rubbery feta cheese. A plate of frenched string beans sautéed with lemon and garlic was a simple joy.
Most presentations are pretty straightforward, so the elaborate fried chicken roulade took me by surprise. The breaded, boneless breast wrapped around bacon mousse reminded me of banal banquet fare. It’s rescued by wonderful collard greens and creamy jalapeno-spiked cheese grits. But that sunny-side-up egg on top looked like something Lady Gaga dreamed up.
Desserts also tilt toward excess. Candied bacon dots apple fritters that are a trifle mushy under caramel sauce. Fried peanut butter “bonbons” plopped on huckleberry jam are more like “bon-bombs.” They were as big as Ping-Pong balls and needed a much bigger, colder glass of milk to wash down three.
Local 360 debuted earlier this year, but the idea of rigid regional sourcing isn’t new. Chef Kerry Sear tried something similar more than a decade ago. Just as his upmarket Cascadia suited its era — it opened in the midst of the dot-com boom and closed years later after receiving much acclaim — Local 360 fits these recessionary times. It’s a come-as-you-are neighborhood cafe, and its earnest mission to serve good local food, moderately priced, all day, mostly succeeds.
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