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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

Keep It Local

Noelle Chorney
Published Thursday October 30, 05:50 pm
Simplicity and satisfaction work wonders for this coffee bar


136 3rd Ave. S


Sometimes you don’t know what makes you feel at home until you experience it out of context. The Local Coffee Bar, a new(ish) coffee shop on 3rd Ave. near 21st St., is a perfect example.

On first impression, it appears sparse: concrete floors, high ceilings, and grey predominate. There are few tables — made of rough, thick wood, thickly varnished to make them smooth — and some metal chairs.

The menu is also sparse. A little bit of daily baking, three wraps, three takes on grilled cheese sandwiches, soup, chili and a couple of vegan rice bowls. Good coffee, good tea. They’re open until five pm.

And yet, there’s beer and wine available; the artwork on the walls looks intriguing and yet familiar, like something my creatively frustrated brother would do for fun and then give to friends and family on birthday cards; there’s a “coffee cocktail” list that tempts me even at nine am, and there’s a killer playlist on the sound system.

I like being here. I listen to this music at home. The coffee is delicious and artful — from Bow and Arrow Coffee Roasters in Victoria. I don’t usually drink drip coffee at a coffee bar, but I gave it a try to see what their “regular” coffee was like, and it was very similar to what I drink at home — rich, strong and full-bodied, with no trace of bitterness. If you are what you eat/drink, I’d rather avoid the bitter coffee. (I don’t need to be anymore bitter than I already am.) And who couldn’t stand to be a little richer or stronger? Although I could pass on the full body…

The food, while simple, is also thoughtfully curated. Do you really need more than one kind of baking? Or one kind of breakfast sandwich? Not really, when you think about it. And the one that’s on offer is tasty and satisfying — a wrap filled with egg, salsa and cheese, grilled until everything gets melty.

I didn’t know that the best grilled cheese sandwich involved both pub mustard and a dill pickle. But thanks to the “Cuban” at The Local, now I do. A grilled cheese sandwich isn’t usually the most memorable lunch, but when it’s done right, it can certainly be one that you crave regularly.

The other two grilled cheese options are the Trio (three kinds of cheese) and the Brie and pear (uh, yeah, I’d eat that).

The rice bowls are equally fresh and simple, and yet hit on some of my wants and needs: sriracha (Asian chili garlic hot sauce) is a constant craving for me, and they’ve topped a lentil rice bowl with sriracha lime sauce. The rice is plain old white, though I’d hoped it would be brown — but it’s infused with herbs, making it a savoury base for a simple topping of lentils, fresh veggies and spicy sauce.

The Local is licensed to serve liquor, which is awesome. I got all excited at the idea of spending some time hanging out there for an evening when I saw the beer and wine on offer. But — boo! — they close at five. Still, as the owner says, you could always order one of those coffee cocktails anytime of day, because who doesn’t want to add maple whisky to their latte? Or Pisa hazelnut liqueur? He does have a point…

But they’re not totally off-limits in the evenings. If you do want to hang out there as much as I do, and you have an event you’re looking to host, you can rent the space in their off hours (like evenings and Sundays). They’ve hosted things like corporate “pub trivia” nights, art shows and more.

The space is open to any kind of event, and comfortably seats 30 (or more with just standing room). You can bring in your own food, or work with The Local for catering services. Their only request is that drinks are purchased through them. And why wouldn’t you want to, with all those coffee cocktails and some nice microbrew beer as options?

I’ll put it all out there: I love a coffee shop or restaurant that isn’t afraid to stick to what they know and eschews trying to be all things to all people. I also love the idea of an affordable venue and a business that’s committed to the community it’s in. And I also love good coffee. I want this place to do well. Help a girl out, woudja? Start finding ways to fit The Local Coffee Bar into your daily routine. Here’s betting you’ll become a regular. 

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