Steakhouse honcho David Flom has an unexpected back story. For three generations his family has run one of the country’s largest pea farms in Cannon Falls, Minn. Today they supply around 90 percent of Green Giant’s product, and once a year Flom and his entire extended family head home for a giant harvest party.
So it’s easy to see why for Flom’s newest eatery, he and business partner Matthew Moore veered away from the power lunch/business dinner/white tablecloth vibe of their first restaurant, Chicago Cut Steakhouse, and created a more low-key spot. To Flom, it was just what the Gold Coast needed.
“There were lots of fancy, special-occasion spots in the area,” says Flom of the enclave east of Michigan Avenue. “But nowhere you could go with your significant other or a group that’s not over the top. We wanted [a place] that soothes the soul on a daily basis.” Enter The Local, a restaurant that pays homage to the surrounding clientele — the locals — as well as the fact that many of the ingredients are sourced from around the Chicago area.
Located inside the Hilton Suites Chicago, the restaurant maintains some of the signatures of Chicago Cut — an elegant dining room, an iPad wine list, impeccable service — but boasts homespun touches like stars and stripes décor and a menu of classic Americana cuisine created by chef Travis Strickland, a veteran of the noted Inn at Blackberry Farms restaurant in Tennessee. Even if you’re not a neighborhood denizen, it’s worth a trip to the Gold Coast for his menu of classic comfort food, including a cobb salad with filet mignon ($25), Dr Pepper barbecue baby back ribs served with fries and slaw ($26) or a bowl of chicken noodle soup ($8). For the most traditional and nostalgic American comfort food dishes, look to the daily specials menu for Monday’s meatloaf, served on a pile of mashed potatoes ($24), Tuesday’s chicken potpie ($22) or Sunday’s fried chicken and waffles ($22). For libations, The Local offers tap brews such as Bell’s and Two Brothers, a full bar and 120 different bottles of wine. Don’t leave without ordering up a side of the mac and cheese. In a nod to Flom’s family, it’s mixed with thick chunks of bacon and peas, which add a bright note to a traditionally heavy — and delicious — dish.
Story by Molly Each | Photo by Jorge Gera