I am not going to make a ton of friends by reviewing Local 360, because frankly, I have not enjoyed either of the meals I have consumed at this place. Local 360 is a relatively well known Seattle Restaurant for its farm to table attitude and its gluten free options. I feel like I should like it, for all that it represents and the hype that it generates. For heavens-sake up until mid 2014 a former Top Chef contestant ran the kitchen; Robin Leventhal. It wasn’t until July that Brian Cartenuto took over and I haven’t had a meal there since her departure.
My problem is that Local 360, with all its hype in the Seattle Food community, puts out bland food. Its not terrible food by any means, you can tell technique is there: its just almost decidedly under seasoned. Yes, 360 is serving almost entirely local produce and food. Yes, they offer the much loved “fancy foodie” tasting menu. Yes, you almost always need a reservation. But, that doesn’t mean it’s good. It just means its farm to table.
I have had two meals at 360, one breakfast, the other dinner. My dinner involved an piece of pork with under rendered fat. Now, I understand that pork is typically fatty; I cook a mean pork shoulder… long and slow. The fat should melt in your mouth, it should not be super chewy. While the sides to my pork were tasty, they suffered the typical lack of seasoning that I also experienced during my breakfast. I ordered a Farmer’s Breakfast with over easy eggs. The eggs were delicious, as would except local eggs to be. Here’s the thing though; I can cook myself a perfectly tasty local over easy egg and I do so on a regular basis. The biscuit on the other hand was dry and didn’t bring anything exciting to the plate. The potatoes had barely any seasoning and I felt myself loading on salt and pepper to make them more appealing. Alas they were slightly under-cooked as well, nothing could really save them.
Now the lastly, what really killed any desire of returning was the sort of service we received. I have experienced service like this in plenty of higher end restaurants but I am usually able to put my foot down with the waiter. The service was slow and the server seemed less then enthusiastic with us. They weren’t overly busy at either time and our table didn’t ask for much. They just seemed to have this really unpleasant air about them, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. Was it that the restaurant “better than the rest” attitude has just started to wear on them? They did seem a tad overzealous about the origins of the food and less about the actually dishes. Though I often got the feeling that people that ate at 360 said they enjoyed their food just because they assumed they should. I mean its farm to table, sustainably conscious cooking, I should love it right? Only problem is, there are plenty farm to table and sustainably conscious restaurants in Seattle that don’t serve “just okay” food. A lot of restaurants in Seattle also serve local produce, meat and dairy but just don’t promote it all over their menus.
I am not an anti-farm to table foodie, I adore the idea, I really do. The problem is when restaurants think the products they get to make the food is all the matters. Which is weird right? I mean of course that matters BUT you still need to cook it well and season it for it to be good. They stop making amazing food when they are more concerned with telling us where it comes from. I really like knowing where my food comes from, don’t get me wrong, but it could use more salt.