"I'm pretty stoked, man," he says as he sits down to chat. "It's our first time to open the same concept and develop it more."
Why wouldn't he be? The design by Aaron Rambo of Found for the Home with input from owner Benjy Levit looks great, with lots of natural light spilling in from the windows to give it a totally different feel than former occupant Taco Milagro. White subway tiles and maps of River Oaks from 1957 gives the new location its own look while still feeling like the Rice Village original. Murray considers them "cousins."
White subway tiles and maps of River Oaks from 1957 gives the new location its own look while still feeling like the Rice Village original. Murray considers them "cousins."
This location also sports a full bar, which serves a well-chosen selection of local craft beer in addition to both wine and liquor.
The bar and a new menu of rotisserie items are designed to drive traffic during dinner and make this Local Foods more of an evening destination than the original. Murray credits Levit for suggesting the restaurant add the rotisserie.
"I'm about pared down food these days," Murray says. He knows he's walking a bit of a high wire serving simple roasted chicken. "Our goal is to get the skin perfectly crispy and the meat perfectly moist . . . It's got to be good or else it's just a shitty piece of chicken."
The chicken wasn't available during my visit, but Murray was testing some leg of lamb. Simply seasoned with salt, pepper and rosemary and beautifully medium rare, the lamb had the required gamey tang without being overwhelming.
Murray expects to begin serving the items this weekend. In addition to chicken, expect to see pork loin, pork leg, leg of lamb and whole fish available. They'll be paired with sauces like chimichurri and three or four hot sides. Potatoes are a natural, but Murray is also testing a vegan gratin and a dish that incorporates locally made Tavola pasta.
The rotisserie will also drive new sandwiches on the menu, such as a roast pork torta that gets a lift from avocado and diced onions. Other new options include a classic corned beef, panzanella salad and pozole. Cold sides will vary with the season but currently include both kale and beets.
The restaurant's fans in other parts of the city may be hoping for more locations, but Murray says not so fast. "The goal is not to see how many we can open . . . You can't copy these. Each one is truly unique."