Local Pour — a new so-called “classic American tavern” in River Oaks plaza (in the spot that formerly housed Sherlocks and The Laff Stop before that) — is hardly recognizable. Unlike the old series of rooms, the space has been completely opened up including a separate patio room up front with doors that slide open to create a fabulous al fresco space for Houston's beautiful spring days.
Though it's newly made over, the space feels historic. Case in point? The display of a huge metal door from a Henke & Pillot — the old Houston grocery store chain that Kroger acquired in 1955 and disbanded in 1966 — that used to stand at his location.
The new bar's decor is casually elegant with somewhat of a old-school Chicago-vibe. Shiny subway tile, soothing green and turquoise accents, rich woods, beautifully upholstered chairs in cozy seating areas along with booths and a set of community tables frame a long bar with 48 frequently rotating taps. Plenty of Texas-brewed craft beers are featured with standouts like No Label Ridgeback, brewed in Katy; Saint Arnold Endeavor, brewed in Houston; and Thirsty Planet Buckethead, brewed in Austin and found exclusively on draft at Local Pour.
The "Local" in Local Pour is definitely a focus here — at the bar and throughout the menu.
There are also more than 50 finely crafted bottled beers. Beer people will be happy, but they’re not the only ones.
Vinophiles will rejoice in a well-rounded selection from around the world (including Texas wines) that are temperature controlled. There are some pretty interesting daily “by the bottle” specials.
Those seeking a regular, good ole “well” cocktail (as my companion did, going for a whiskey sour) will be thrilled with the happy hour prices, offered from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. daily and all day Sunday. It's $2 wells, $3 calls and $1 off all draft beer, wine-by-the-glass and specialty cocktails. As you might guess, there is a large selection of spirits created in Texas — more than you’d imagine actually — along with all the standard offerings.
The “Specialties” cocktail list is full of Texas-inspired concoctions like the cilantro lime drop, made with Tito’s, fresh lime, St. Germain, fresh cilantro, simple syrup and club soda. It hit the spot. My friend enjoyed the Texas Indian summer sour with Texas blended whiskey, fresh lemon juice, hibiscus pomegranate syrup and quail egg whites, shaken and strained over ice with a sliver of orange peel.
The "Local" in Local Pour is definitely a focus here — at the bar and throughout the menu. Local cheese is available on the well-appointed charcuterie and cheese board (available in two sizes). There is Redneck Cheddar from Veldhuizen Cheese in Texas (washed in Shiner Bock). My friend and I enjoyed the accompaniments of rustic olive bread, assorted crackers, grapes, whole-grain mustard, fig jam, quince, marcona almonds and gherkins with several delicious cheeses and dried beef like the rich bresaola.
A dish I’d usually pass on — spinach and artichoke dip, was brought to life with a touch of jalapeno combined with the cheese, fresh baby spinach and artichoke hearts, topped with panko and served with lavash chips. There are 15 appetizers and even a variety of salads, but I went straight to the LP USDA choice burger, of ground short rib and sirloin (served a perfect medium-rare as I’d ordered it), topped with blue cheese and caramelized onions on a fresh “croissant” bun and crispy fries. I was impressed.
Beer people will be happy, but they’re not the only ones.
The croissant bun (made by Ashcraft European Bakery in Stafford) was so intriguing because it didn’t really look like a croissant. OK, maybe sort of a squashed one but with the “folds” really worked to hold up to the seriously juicy beef. A lesser bun wouldn’t have been up for the job.
We also devoured the Bavarian black forest ham sandwich with thick-enough slices of grilled black forest ham, bacon and Swiss cheese topped with lettuce, tomato and a horseradish glaze on a warm pretzel bun (all breads are from Ashcraft) and finished things off with an incredibly moist rum cake. Why not?
There are entrees including beef short ribs, wood grilled chicken, shrimp and grits and even a local catch of gulf red snapper. Chef Kevin Bryant (who will soon open his own Eleven XI on West Gray) consulted on the offerings.
Did I mention there’s also live music? And Sunday brunch coming soon. This place is good for the hood.