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A New “Eat Pub” Goes Local in the 818

November 9, 2010 

by Karen Young

We’re getting into step in the 818 as the tavern/pub movement slowly grows. The latest is The Local Peasant, which replaced Cozy’s in Sherman Oaks. Currently in its soft opening, the paint is barely dry and the signage isn’t yet up — but still, this is the place to be for great food and drinks in a pub atmosphere. It’s reminiscent of Laurel Tavern in Studio City — only the menu is much more extensive and the place itself is four times the size.

It has that real pub feel with white tile walls and steel fixtures mixed with a combination of wood and stone. The front room hosts a large bar with wall booths and wood tables. Chalk boards list drinks written in a classic old-fashioned font. The back room is filled with large communal tables made of reclaimed wood. There are a few flat TV screens on the bar, but it’s more for interest, rather than a sports bar effect. The tiled restrooms are even worth a look with The Local Peasant etched in the stone sinks.

Local is a word that rings loudest to The Local Peasant’s three business partners, Mario Guddemi, Sal Aurora and Karl Makinen. All from New York City, they grew up in the restaurant business with similar Italian-American values and traditions — they enjoy family, friends, great food and conversation. With an emphasis on “local,” their intention is to bring a “community living room” feeling to The Local Peasant — and that is, warm, inviting and unpretentious.

Alcohol is locally sourced within California with the exception of a few beers from Belgium and England. There are 20 beers on tap and six bottled ($5-8) with more on the way. The wine list is currently being compiled, but are from local wineries in Malibu, Santa Ynez, Paso Robles and the Central Coast. With some of the wines kegged, they are pouring them into clear square glass swing-top bottles and glasses ($8-$12). They’ve also got mixology cocktails with Pre-Prohibition and post prohibition themes ($9). The classics — Old Fashioned, Top Collins, Daiquiri, Side-Car and Vodka Buck combine with the mod — St. Germain, Gordon’s Cup, Watermelon Mojito, Basil Pepper and Cellopeno (their version of a margarita type drink).

Pair drinks with $4 simple bar snacks like marinated olives, deviled eggs with applewood bacon smoked crisps, and warm chili lemon spice nuts.

The menu itself is an eclectic twist on classic pub food using locally produced seasonal food and very reasonably priced. As stated on the front door, The Local Peasant is an “eat pub.” The top price currently on the menu is $14 for Halibut. The evening I went with two friends, we ordered four dishes and dessert: Short Ribs ($12) prepared in a red wine sauce with vegetables and accompanied with pureed butternut squash was tender and most flavorful; Fish and Chips ($11) are generously presented on a wood plank with malt vinegar and dipping sauces for ‘chips,’ which are shaped like square logs of hash browns, and unlike any type of fry we’d eaten before — delicious and addicting. The fish is moistly prepared with red snapper and beer battered; the Portobello Mushroom Burger ($11) is quite an incredible, well textured vegetarian sandwich — piled high on a soft brioche is a Portobello mushroom, roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, sprouts, avocado, pesto and topped with a crispy fried onion ring; the Grilled Peach Salad ($9) is a light delight with arugula, shaved fennel, candied walnuts, goat cheese and coarsely chopped Santa Barbara peaches lightly dressed with a sweet orange vinaigrette.

Other must try dishes on the current menu: The Peasant Burger (with cheese, onion and fried egg), Lamb Chops, Chicken Waldorf Sandwich, Mac & Cheese (with bacon and black truffle oil!), Ceviche, Margherita Pizza, Heirloom Burrata Salad, Drunken Chicken with mashed potatoes and sour cream) and more. The menu will change according to freshest availability and the seasons.

For dessert, so far they offer two selections — apple cobbler and an ice cream sandwich. Difficult decision, but we went with the ice cream because we were told the cookies were freshly made. Although, I’m sure the cobbler would have been just as good. Needless to say, the ice cream sandwich blows local competitor sandwiches away. You can smell the soft cookies as they are brought to the table. The ice cream is generously scooped in between the two soft cookies.

Everything is just so well thought out — down to the vintage looking dish rags used as napkins and the small glass containers with tin tops with rustically punched holes for salt, pepper and malt vinegar. All that adds to the fun and charming ambiance. Add that to great food at a reasonable price and I predict The Local Peasant to be a big winner in the 818.

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