By Mitchell Nover
Growing up in the Washington, DC suburbs, we didn’t have ready access to the beach like we do here in Miami. So, each and every summer we, as most families do in the Northeast, rented a beach house for a week somewhere along the Eastern Shore (or the Jersey Shore, or the Hamptons, or Cape Cod). As with any family vacation, things could get a little bit crazy and disorganized, but you were bound to have a good time and the food was always great. During my recent visit to The Local House in South Beach, I was instantly brought back to my childhood and those “dog days of summer.”
Located inside the Sense Beach House in South Beach’s SoFi neighborhood, The Local House restaurant opened in December 2012 and seats only 28 diners inside. The space also includes a small bar and outdoor patio seating. Indoors, the décor is inspired by beach houses of the Northeast with bookshelves littered with ceramic vases, model sail boats and sea shell, and a color palette featuring lots of whites and pastel blues. Outdoors, guests can dine at casual couches and communal plank tables, which make for a very cozy and enjoyable experience.
After that lovely description, you may be asking why I compare my The Local House visit to a dysfunctional, yet enjoyable, family vacation? Well, despite the surface beauty, The Local House also offers up the following: too-loud pop radio music similar to what your little sister might blast from her room; shirtless hotel guests walking through the dining room to go to the restroom just like to those pesky cousins of yours that you still don’t fully understand your relation to; and a friendly, but confused waitress who unwittingly insults the British tourists next to you because she can’t understand their heavy accents, kind of like something your eccentric great aunt would do.
That said, just like at your crazy family’s beach house, there is one constant that brings everyone together: the food. The Local House menu offers Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in small, yet shareable portions. Featuring fresh seafood, balanced meat dishes and locally sourced vegetables, herbs and fruits, the food is simple, elegant, delicious and comforting. Just like mom used to make.
My culinary adventure began with the Goat Cheese Croquettes ($10), served with spicy guava sauce, and the Tuna & Kiwi Sashimi ($16) as appetizers. The croquettes were beautifully fried, with a smooth, creamy filling and paired perfectly with the sashimi. Featuring sushi grade tuna, sliced kiwi, jalapeño and fresno pepper rings, the exquisitely fresh sashimi was topped with a light sesame and ginger-lime vinaigrette.
Similar to the appetizers, I went with two choices for the salad course –one cheese and one fruit, to provide a balance of heavy and light. The Local Burrata & Panzanella ($17) combined the milky mozzarella-like cheese with croutons, cherry tomatoes, torn basil, baby bell peppers, cucumbers and balsamic vinaigrette. Prosciutto could also be added for $4, but I thought that might be overdoing it. I also ordered the Melon Citrus Salad ($12), which was delightfully fresh, bringing together baby spinach, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, feta cheese, fresh mint and lime juice.
After four starters, I was again looking for something on the lighter side when selecting my main course. When I saw the Beer Steamed Mussels ($16) I knew that my search was over. Steamed in Bells Oberon Ale and accompanied by ground sausage, roasted poblano peppers, and served with a grilled baguette, this dish was absolutely mouth-watering and the perfect end to my meal.
My experience at The Local House was truly reminiscent of the summer beach vacations of my youth. At the end of the day, who cares about the loud music, shirtless passersby and clueless waitresses? Just like your family, they may be all of those things, but they’re also fun, eye-catching and lovable. Plus, above all else, the food is impeccable. What more can you ask for?
Address: 400 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Hours of Operation: Monday – Wednesday: 8:30am to 11:00pm
Thursday – Saturday: 8:30am to 12:00am
Sunday: 8:30am to 10:00pmFollow @greatfoodlist