"Locale’s menu plays it safe"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Locale’s mission is to combine traditional Italian food with cocktail bar chic. The location of their branches (Fulham, East Dulwich, Balham, Blackheath, County Hall) means their target market is middle class, middle income, with a semblance of taste yet playing it safe, which is a little like the décor at the Balham branch. Inviting booth-style seating and warm, wooden furniture seem designed to appease local commuters after a long day at the office. Furthermore, a happy hour operates daily, making cocktails only £3.75 till 7.30 pm - the signature raspberry Bellini with its syrupy Champagne seems particularly apt for booth-dwelling after workers - and then there’s the live singing, mostly a girl performing acoustic covers of top 40 hits.
The menu features an all-encompassing selection of pasta and risotto dishes, (there is even a gluten-free menu for wheat-intolerant pasta lovers featuring gluten-free spaghetti and penne) meat and fish, pizzas, and food cooked in a Josper oven - the 21 day aged Scotch rib eye steak delivers the menu’s promise of a delightful aroma and tasty chargrilled flavour.
The spaghetti carbonara is a diet-bustingly creamy dish, while the charcuterie platter contains spicy slices of chorizo, salty Parma ham and Italian salami with homemade focaccia, pickled shallots and a mound of shaved fennel with drizzles of tomato sauce. As if in-keeping with the woody décor, the cold meats are served on a large tree trunk cut-out. Tuscan sausages have been braised with tomatoey borlotti and cannellini beans, a surprisingly filling combo.
An apple tarte tatin contains slices of poached apple sitting atop a crust of pastry with a dollop of cinnamon ice cream; a slight hint of tea is perceptible in the Earl Grey crème brûlée, however its rich creaminess is rewarding enough, particularly when paired with Locale’s very own homemade zesty limoncello. Tasty, good value, and well, a safe bet.
Leila reviewed Locale on Mon 31 Jan 2011