Gallery: The Local [3 Images] Click any image to expand.
by Briana Denney
When a restaurant is owned by an executive chef, there is a tremendous amount of passion that contributes to every detail. The owner of The Local, Hooman Mofidi, has an intriguing culinary background and a somewhat humble approach to gaining a customer’s attention.
Being a somewhat “behind the curtain” type of chef and owner, it’s not likely that you’ll be receiving a grand visit while dining there. Although not very vocal, Hooman shows his appreciation for his guests through all the time, effort, and planning that goes into his dishes …. an unobtrusive approach that deserves acknowledgement. In his own words, he speaks through the food.
Originally from Newport Beach, Hooman attended the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. Through a desire to make people happy and to enjoy a hospitality environment, Hooman melded his love for food and opened a Spanish tapas restaurant in Manhattan, which he owned for three years. In 2011, upon hearing of his mom’s diagnosis with breast cancer, Hooman sold his restaurant in NY and moved to San Clemente to be close by her side.
With the mind frame that San Clemente life is paradise, Hooman decided to settle in town permanently. In 2014 he opened Poche Burger, located by the DMV, which is to this day still running strong. Much different from The Local, Poche Burger is a super casual place to grab a burger or wings, a beer, and watch sports.
The Local is more of a fine dining experience, but in an informal atmosphere, and seems to be the only restaurant in San Clemente that serves a very high caliber of food, without the typical matching dress code. As a beach community, to enjoy incredible food without having to get all gussied up is a big plus.
It was Hooman’s vision to open the space and connect it with the outdoors. By installing many operable windows, the intimate dining area and long bar displaying local beers on tap, are all exposed to the busy downtown sidewalk. The street side outdoor patio is filled with communal tables with built-in ice buckets, offering a way for the community to make new friends and share plates. It is Hooman’s hope that people will interact through food. With an owner- designed space, basic with subway tiled walls and simple furnishings, it is the food here that is meant to impress.
Although the seasonal menu is constantly evolving, it is designed for any level of appetite. You can go big with a steak, or choose a lighter fare with a couple of tapas paired with a glass of wine. Whichever way appeals, this menu is versatile, offering new flavors and experiences at each visit.
The inspiration for the menu stems from Hooman’s classically trained French background, infused with his love for Mediterranean. The food is the freshest available, delivered three to four times a week. With an open mind, Hooman wants to listen and cater to what the locals want and incorporate that into the menu.
From my perspective, there has not been anything I would request to add or change from this menu. Its proximity to perfection lends a trust to the chef to allow his freedom of creativity to flow. During my warm, welcomed dinner experience I made sure to note “heaven on earth” after trying the pork tenderloin crostini with spicy cream cheese and shallots.
The octopus is cooked in a braising liquid for 18 hours then grilled, offering the tenderest octopus I’ve had to date. The giant Tomahawk steak at $55 is enough to feed at least two. Pair and share the steak with a starter such as poke and crispy rice, a salad and a side, and a couple can enjoy a feast for under $100.
The Local Salad is loaded with good stuff like candied almonds, crumbled goat cheese and shaved brussel sprouts accompanied with citrus vinaigrette. One of best salads offered in SC. With so many alluring items on the menu, it would take several visits to enjoy them all, and the price tag, without a doubt, fits the quality and taste.
The name of the restaurant was selected because Hooman wanted this place to be a spot that locals consider to be the place to go hang out. With their new weekend $25 all you can drink brunch, which includes a meal, it’s a given that the patio and airy bar will be this Summer’s Sunday Funday spot. For all the meat eaters, I suggest the steak and cheesy eggs, and try the Crab cake eggs benedict … Fantastic!
Located at 207 S. El Camino Real. Open 7 days a week for dinner, and Saturday and Sunday for breakfast. Taco Tuesday - 2 tacos for $6 and $4 Margaritas. www.thelocalsc.com