|The Independent, Feb. 2, 2007|
Out of the Frying Pan
Drive into sleepy, blue-collar Philmont, past the Victorian houses — some lovingly restored, some still seedy — and the exciting new Family Dollar store; hang a right at Stewart's, and stroll into Local 111, the area's newest dining venue.
This used to be Schermerhorn's Garage. The concrete floor has been cleaned, sealed and buffed; the overhead doors have been replaced by new overhead doors, to facilitate indoor/outdoor dining in warm weather. The walls are painted a restful earth color called Stony Ground, and on one is a classy four-by-twelve-foot representational painting, "Promise of Light" by Gabrielle Senza. Over the bar hang handsome industrial-looking light fixtures.
The menu is slender and selective. From the seven starters I chose chicken liver toast — two slices of crusty peasant bread spread with paté, very nice. My charming companion had Caesar salad after closely questioning the server to make sure it was real Caesar salad, anchovies and all.
Main courses — steak, roast chicken, striped bass or a special — are $19 to $22; pasta dishes are $15 and $16. She chose the veal ravioli special, which is delicious if you like ravioli. For my main course I had a hamburger — $8 including fries or a heap of greens. It was enormous, on an even huger roll, and it was done exactly as I asked.
Main courses come with any two side dishes from a list of nine, most of them tempting: braised kale, beets, soft polenta and cheese, winter squash, lentils and bacon, honey baked carrots, fries, garlic bread and — my choice — fennel and potato gratin. You may order three sides with grilled bread for only $8; that and an appetizer or two would make a splendid meal.
For dessert I had an apple cobbler, warm from the oven, with a nice crumbly crust; she had tangerine sorbet. The bill for two, including beer and wine, was under $60.
Responsible for the food — which the menu calls "as local as we can get" — are Executive Chef David Wurth, late of Savoy in New York City, and Sous Chef Brian Williams, formerly with Aubergine in Hillsdale.
Eyeing our fellow diners, I concluded that Local 111 is not drawing a Philmont crowd; the demographic looks like flatlanders and Claverack gentry with a sprinkle of earnest Hawthorne Valley types. My only problem, and it's a minor one, was with the acoustics: As the place filled up, the noise level grew uncomfortable. Owner Linda Gatter tells me they're working on that.
All in all, Local 111 is well worth a visit.
Open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday 5 to 9 p.m. Open for muffins, scones, coffee and tea Wednesday through Friday 7 to 11 a.m., weekends 8 a.m. to noon. Credit cards. Reservations suggested, especially on weekends. 672-7801.