London never stops amazing me. Whether you were born and bread in the capital or are a city explorer or resident, you are bound to discover a discreet gem in every nook and cranny of the city. There’s nothing more comforting than feeling at home wherever you lay your hat and being in a diverse environment that embraces lighthearted banter amongst friends. Farringdon remains a unique social hub that brings together an energetic mix of people, cultures, art, and history. Nestled in the historic St John’s Street is a lovely new bar and restaurant called ‘The Localist‘, which embodies the cosmopolitan nature of the area while offering homely comfort.
The Localist lives up to its reputation of being a ‘neighbourhood bar’. The decor is unassuming from the outside. Upon entry, one immediately sees the bar and reception area staffed by welcoming employees. It was quiet when I visited it, so my initial impression was that it was a suitable venue for a business lunch meeting although I would expect it to get busier in the evening, with live music and cocktails served by the cocktail king Luigi Pecoraro.
The Localist used to be a cork warehouse, which can be seen in its characteristic brick walls and wooden floors. What is more, the peacock blue velvet upholstery seems to reflect elements of the Mediterranean, such as the sea and freshness of homegrown food, and so does the menu. It has a balance between modern-day country house and raw industrial chic. Furthermore, the venue looked crisp, with an airy feel lent by the ample space. The Localist is the creation of restaurateurs Stefano Potorti and Yuri Negodyuk, two people from different backgrounds brought together by a love of good food. The menu offers signature Mediterranean dishes, which include fritto misto and mussel linguine, and British classics such as fish and chips. I could not wait to tuck into the menu as everything sounded fresh and healthy. The Head Chef, Marco Squillace, checked up on us, which added a personal touch to the service. Furthermore, it was humbling to meet the man who fed and watered us with authentic flavours that afternoon. Marco was head chef at SoHo House, Shoreditch, and previously junior sous chef at Cipriani.
Fish & Chips – The Localist
For starters, my friend and I ordered the fritto misto with smoked paprika and aioli, and a quinoa salad—a vegan option—with kale, avocado, and apple vinegar. The portions were substantial—more than enough to share between two people. In addition, the presentation was impeccable. I would advise light eaters to order a starter and a main as the portions are generous.
The Localist has a unique menu concept in that a small part of the money from the sale of certain dishes goes to a registered charity. For example, seventy pence from each classic burger, which costs £11.50, are donated to St. Jame’s Place Foundation. The same applies to the best beef lasagne on the menu—seventy pence are donated to FoodCycle. My only criticism is that the charity concept should include a vegetarian and pescatarian option.
Tuna Steak – The Localist
Cocktails – The Localist
For the main dish, I had tuna steak, which was incredibly succulent, with rocket baby corn, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes. I highly recommend this dish because it’s healthy and incredibly filling and does not have simple carbohydrates. The waitress who served us was polite and asked how we liked our tuna. I opted for medium rare. We could not resist having a few cocktails to wash our food down. ‘Tease Me’ got me feeling happy like a ‘Silly Monkey’, no pun intended. All in all, it’s worth paying The Localist a visit to satisfy one’s curiosity, even if just for cocktail-tasting with a few small appetizers on the side. Although I do not live in Farringdon, The Localist offers, without trying too hard, good food, booze, and an easy-going atmosphere that will make anyone feel it’s their go-to local restaurant.