You can’t love them all. Local 149, a restaurant by the Biltmore Bar and Grill’s Jason Owens has opened up in the former location of South Boston’s much-loved Farragut House.
The Farragut House offered a cozy, unpretentious atmosphere with surprisingly good quality food, a perfect pint of Guinness, and authentic, friendly service. The Farragut House was perfect for what it was, a neighborhood joint that drew people who lived in the area. It was for all ages, reflected its proximity to the sea, and poured one of the best pints of Guinness in Boston. And they made a perfect fillet of salmon.
Local 149 is a little different, and to be brutally honest, reminded me that change is not always good.
I had high hopes for Local 149 when I heard it was going to be a beer and oyster place along South Boston’s waterfront.
The outside of Local 149 features shiny wood and metal, modern, simple, and while nice, completely out of place in this salty, down-to-earth neighborhood. And nothing, inside or out, would tell you that a beautiful ocean front is a block away.
Once inside, we were informed of a 15 minute wait. The ladies at the hostess stand were very welcoming, and they ushered us to the bar to wait with drinks. Local 149 has an extensive beer menu, and I had a hard time deciding before finally settling on a Pretty Things Jack d’Or.
So here’s where I started to get a little annoyed. The bar crowd, at 6:15, was obnoxious. I literally wanted to put my fingers in my ears because of the people around us. There were lots of sleazy men in business clothes loudly hitting on women, who were equally loud. It was not my favorite atmosphere ever. Add in four TV’s and really loud music. We should have left then.
My beer and the bar staff were great.
After about 15 minutes, the very lovely hostess came to seat us. The first table she brought me to was literally right behind the loudest of the loud obnoxious men, and when I asked for another table, she was more than happy to move us further into the restaurant. It was very much appreciated.
Once we were seated, we looked around at the décor which is just busy. I can’t pinpoint a theme, with the glowing bottles and metal cattle horns, brick fireplace, and studded chairs. Coyote Ugly? I can’t help but say I completely missed how cozy the Farragut House was. I just don’t know what’s going on in this place.
But I had high hopes for the food. Again, we had a hard time deciding as the menu offered many great choices. We decided to start with oysters.
The oysters, as I understand, were supposed to be a big part of the restaurant’s Southern-influenced cuisine. They arrived, placed like they were thrown, on a plate of ice, and when I say I have never seen an oyster quite so mangled in my life, you have to believe me. I feel mean even writing this, but it looked like someone took an ice pick and just stabbed them a bunch of times. They were still completely stuck to the shell and a complete mess. To the oysters’ credit, they were deliciously briny, but I was so put off by the appearance, I started to not feel well.
Fried Brussels sprouts to the rescue! Perfectly fried globes of green with a slightly spicy dipping sauce and a blue cheese-like dip were fantastic. These would probably be even better if they were smaller sprouts, as we had at the Four Seasons, just to make them a little easier to eat. We polished off every single Brussels sprout, and things were looking up.
Until our shrimp tempura arrived. Look closely, my friends, at the presentation. Why would smearing sauce all over a bowl be appealing? It looked like someone had something they needed to get off their hand, so they wiped it on the bowl. I didn’t touch this dish, simply because of the way it looked. The husband, never one to care about such things, said the shrimp were great, but the tempura batter was cold and soggy.
At the very start of our meal, due to the fact that our table barely fit two beers, two waters, and a candle, we asked that our food be staggered as best as possible which didn’t really happen.
I just wonder if restaurateurs choose tables with actual food and actual people eating in mind. I was so uncomfortably squished and dropping things that I just wanted to go home.
Our final course, the beet salad with truffle vinaigrette, was a much needed saving grace. It was a stunning dish, dotted with quail eggs, candy cane beets, and topped with an earthy, fragrant truffle dressing. We gobbled this up, loving every bite. Isn’t it so pretty? It was a really nice bridge between winter and spring.
We also ordered the “spicy” pimiento fries which were just soggy, and never photographed. Not good fries, not at all.
Our meal was about half and half as far as things we liked and things we couldn’t eat.
And here’s where I get a little picky, because it annoys me when restaurants open without editing things. I am by no means perfect, by the way, and everyone makes mistakes. But when you have a menu that is a two sided document, it probably wouldn’t take 10 minutes to have a couple sets of eyes look at it. The menu had many misspelled words, including their ($6!) Guinness (Guiness to them) and tried, perhaps, with the below, to appeal to the Irish neighborhood they are in, with their usquebaugh, the phoenetic spelling of whiskey in the Irish language.
For the record, the correct Irish spelling is Uisce beatha.
In addition to all of the above disappointments, this place just felt very ingenuine, like they didn’t try at all to think of the neighborhood, history, or people of the location. I actually finished writing this post this morning, and I have to say the overall experience made me sort of sad as I thought more about it.
I rarely say this, but I would definitely not return, which is unfortunate because of Local 149’s close proximity to my house and to the Castle Island beach and walking area that we visit almost nightly in the summer.
You can’t love them all.
Have you been disappointed by a restaurant or other business that you had high hopes for lately?