Sunday, December 12th, 2010 at 10:55 pm

The New Kid in Town: Local Public Eatery

While South Edmonton Common isn’t the most hospitable area on the best of days, a new addition to the land of box stores may make your holiday shopping excursions a tad more bearable: the city’s first Local Public Eatery is now here.

Local Public Eatery, a brand of the Joey’s Restaurant Group, has a successful flagship in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver. They decided it was time to bring the concept to Edmonton, so in October, shut down OPM (another Joey’s brand) in order to convert the location into Local. The restaurant opened last Friday.

Local Public Eatery

Interior

Local does have another location in Alberta (in Medicine Hat), but as a franchise, I was told its flavour was decidedly different than corporate-run establishments like those in Vancouver and Edmonton. Based on our visit this afternoon – I’d say the vibe was exactly as they billed it to be: “casual, comfy, neighbourly.”

Local Public Eatery

Open kitchen, and Edison-esque bulbs

They really did a number on the interior – OPM had two distinct rooms separated by a wall – a bar/lounge at the front and a dining room with partitioned booths at the rear . The wall is no longer, and as a result, the space, with a long bar down the centre, an open kitchen, and booths on the periphery, feels refreshing.

Local Public Eatery

What’s better than Conan on the flat screen?

Mack and I happily accepted an invitation to have a complimentary brunch at Local this afternoon. The staff were friendly, in good spirits and excited for the opening. They made sure to let us know that four of OPM’s well-loved dishes were saved from extinction (wok fired squid, gyoza, drunken chicken, seven flavoured beef), and that gluten-free options would still be available (six in total).

Besides the OPM transplants, the differences between the Kitsilano menu and the offerings in Edmonton are minimal – food at Local focuses on pub favourites: starters meant for sharing, entree salads, burgers and sandwiches. My only beef was that the “Oil City” burger, with cheddar and jack cheeses, hot sauce, pickled jalapenos & onions, is the same burger that appears on the Kitsilano menu, but under the moniker, “The Kits Beach” (doesn’t #yeg deserve a little bit more creativity?).

Local Public Eatery

Fun map on the flipside of the menu (close-up of the legend is here; we did alert the staff that there are actually three local breweries in Edmonton – Yellowhead is currently missing)

Where Local Public Brewery really shines, however, is their beer menu. Unlike the Joey’s restaurants, Local has the leeway to include Edmonton-made beers on tap, and even better, price them at the same rate as big domestics and imports. So a pint of Kokanee, Pilsner, Amber’s Mountain Pepper Berry or Alley Kat’s Charlie Flint will all cost you $5.50. It makes choosing local just that much easier (in total, they have five local beers on tap – Amber’s Pepper Berry and Vampire Sap, and Alley Kat’s Charlie Flint, Aprikat and Full Moon).

They also have fun cocktails, such as their Caesar served in a boot-shaped glass. At $8, it is a meal in itself, served with an olive, a green bean and a pepperoni stick. The spicy horseradish gave it a kick Mack wasn’t expecting, but I can imagine this is a signature drink that patrons would return for again and again.

Local Public Eatery

Hail Caesar!

As with the rest of the menu, the brunch options are few, but familiar. Mack really enjoyed his eggs Benedict ($12), with poached free-range eggs, back bacon & hollandaise. Though he would have preferred eggs with a runny yolk, he really liked the not-too-tangy hollandaise. And the side potatoes? We had to find out their secret – it turns out the potatoes are first steamed, smashed, then deep-fried, before tossed in seasoning. Delish.

Local Public Eatery

Eggs Benedict

My order of banana pancakes ($10), served with smoked bacon and Canadian maple syrup, was solid. The pancake batter had a pleasant banana flavour, enhanced by the slices of banana on top. While I didn’t mind the petite stack, I couldn’t help but think of the fruit cum pancakes I had at Clinton Street Baking Company – with blueberries sandwiched in between two larger ‘cakes, it allowed for a better distribution of fruit goodness.

Local Public Eatery

Banana pancakes

I should mention also that both our plates arrived with a shot glass filled with a fruit smoothie. Nice touch, especially before digging into deep-fried potatoes and fatty bacon, heh.

Thanks to the staff at Local Public Eatery for a great experience. Before we left, we purchased a gift card for a friend of ours who we know will love the place – give it a shot some time; you might too.

Local Public Eatery
1820 99 Street
(780) 989-5898