The Square Circuit

Academia, parenthood, living in a bankrupt city, and what I read in the process.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Legume in Regent Square

I just heard that "locavore" is the Oxford Word of the Year. Oxford University Press, in their press release, explains "locavore" thus:

The “locavore” movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to grow or pick their own food, arguing that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locavores also shun supermarket offerings as an environmentally friendly measure, since shipping food over long distances often requires more fuel for transportation.

Aiming at locavore credibility, the wife and I went to Regent Square's new (five-month-old) Legume, which bills itself as "a little bistro" that celebrates local farms. Although it's not doctrinaire locavore (I had mussels and clams last night, for instance), much of the produce and meat does come from places like Kistaco Farms and the Kennedy family farm stand at the East Liberty Farmers Market.

The storefront used to belong to a mediocre, somewhat grungy pizza place called Mario's. Legume's owners have cleaned up the place nicely, although the floor could stand replacing (I suggest Saltillo tile). It's cute and small. The food itself was surprisingly good and fresh. We split a pretty credible field-greens-beets-and-goat-cheese salad; she had a hanger steak with mashed potatoes and squash (good and seasonal) and I had homemade fettuccine with shellfish, which was less local and less seasonal but still good. Everything was quite good, in fact--the pot de crème dessert was great and they gave you a little French press for coffee. Our only complaint was about the prices: the wife thought things were about 25% too expensive (and really, $6 for the salad was excessive) and I agree. I'm pleased that there's a place trying to do the West Coast, local-and-fresh-and-seasonal thing. It doesn't make sense to me that, in this very agricultural area, there's not more of that. So I don't begrudge them a LITTLE premium on their prices, because I believe in what they're doing and there's a way in which locavorism for restaurants is less convenient and more labor-intensive. (Just ask us on clean-the-Kretschmann-vegetables day.) But it's still just a bit too expensive. Otherwise, I'm all for it.

Oh--and we saw the Bruce Springsteen show at the Mellon last night. Fantastic. We sat behind Penguins announcer Paul Steigerwald at the show, but didn't know who he was. People were coming up to him and wanting to take photos with him. Fortunately, someone else was using her phone to text-message her friend that she was sitting next to Steigerwald, and by reading over her shoulder we learned who this guy was.


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