Celiac Restaurant Review: The Local, Charlottesville, Va
The Local is tucked away in the little Belmont area of Charlottesville. The online menu stars items which can be made gluten-free, so with reassurance via email that cross contamination could be avoided in the kitchen, I made a reservation with high hopes. Unfortunately, I later discovered a negative review on Tripadvisor.com, suggesting that the staff did not fully understand the nature of severe gluten issues, and that the menu was not as amenable to gluten-free dishes as it would have you believe. I don’t eat grains, and I saw other items that seemed a bit more amenable to my diet than the burger and fries that the customer had ordered (though believe me, I would be pretty pissed if that item were listed as gluten-free, but in reality all you got was a beef pattie, no bun or fries, to make it such), so I decided against cancelling. Well, turns out the reviewer wasn’t so far off base with The Local as a whole. We ordered the cheese plate, which was great, particularly since most of the cheeses were low- to no-lactose, and there was swiss chard for me to use in place of crackers. The crackers that my table mate was served (separate plate) looked like Ritz crackers, though the menu listed bread, so negative points in that regard. When I ordered the pork chop with mashed potatoes and shoestring sweet potatoes, and gave my little gluten-free/Celiac Disease spiel, all seemed well. The server subsequently came to inform me that both of the potatoes contained gluten, and that the chef recommended substituting for asparagus. Asparagus is a high FODMAP, but at that point I was willing to go with the flow and suffer a tiny bit of gastric discomfort; however, am I wrong in thinking there should have been 2 substitutes for the 2 gluten-containing sides (btw, gluten in potatoes??), not just 1? Anyhow, I was psyched to taste some pork after several years worth of vegetarianism, but the cut was more than half unmasticatable fat, which I fleetingly and unceremoniously removed from my mouth after several minutes worth of cud-chewing. The sauce was tangy and spicy, but also a bit too sugary for my taste (though I may just be super sensitive to sugar now that I hardly eat it). So, meal completed, check paid, then I noticed we were overcharged by $13 and had to wait for a new check to be run.
Overall, The Local has a great atmosphere- exposed brick and wood, low lighting, long bar. And it’s menu and locally sourced ingredients sound delicious. But I wouldn’t go back, not just for the misleading gluten-free options, but also for the quality of the food. I really tried to like it, really I did!