When High Street Grill closed its doors in Mount Holly a few years ago, it felt like the South Jersey dining community had lost a good friend. An early supporter of the current microbrew wave, High Street Grill gave craft beer a platform to show its stuff alongside a well-prepared menu.
Now, that space is being occupied by The Local Eatery & Pub, which opened for business last September. As a pub, The Local has taken its name as its message with a beer menu loaded with Jersey brews. And that would include beers from neighbors Village Idiot Brewing and Spellbound Brewing.
As for the eatery side of things, the sneaky quality of chef Michael Carco’s menu comes not from the dishes, which read like pub fare that can be found most anywhere: soft pretzels, wings, crab cakes, etc. It is the skill level in which each item is produced. Those soft pretzels, golden and buttery, were accompanied by a cheddar sauce with depth. The sheer size (!) and flavor of the fish from the fish and chips entrée begged to be shared with others.
And then came one of the specials for the evening: homemade burrata. Creamy. Dreamy. Lovely. Chef Carco and his team seem to have a pretty good idea of what they’re doing in the kitchen.
There are some wonderful, playful parts to the menu as well. Our collective eyes were immediately drawn to the General Tso’s Cauliflower appetizer. And our collective mouths could not help but smile as we gobbled down the sweet and ever-so-slightly-spicy florets, conjuring up thoughts of a takeout container full of these nibbles and bring them home for a Friday night with a cold beer and a beloved movie.
That being said, not every item brought to our table rang true. The curry in the shrimp curry sandwich served on pita was thin and lacked any real oomph in flavor. One of the cocktails served was also on the thin side. But later on, when a smoked Manhattan was ordered, faith in the bar was fully restored. The barkeep also earned points for the willingness to create a fun non-alcoholic drink for one of our group who needed to abstain.
When old friends drift apart, there is a time for mourning—but also an opportunity to create new friendships in the space left behind. After an evening at The Local, I feel like I have suddenly engaged in that kind of connection, food-wise. The torch for craft beer and superior pub fare has finally been picked up in Mount Holly.
The Local Eatery & Pub, 64 High Street, Mount Holly. 609-784-8684, thelocal-nj.com. Open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:30 am to 11 pm, and Thursday through Saturday from 11:30 am to 12 am. Happy Hour is Tuesday through Thursday from 4 pm to 6 pm.Click here to leave a comment