Bar Beat

First Look at Local Pour, Now Open in River Oaks

Stepping foot into newly opened Local Pour, you wouldn't recognize the space as that of the late Sherlock's Baker St. Pub. The revamped bar and restaurant is now more -- in a word -- open.

The walls between the old front and back bars have been torn down, making way for a beautiful open-air front dining area and a long, handsome bar that runs down the length of the restaurant, boasting taps all the while. Where there was once a stage in the back left corner, there's now a bustling open kitchen. A funky blue-lit stage, where live music plays Friday and Saturday nights, replaces the dark back corner where the darts used to be. And gone is the mystery bookshelf wall that was actually a door to the bathrooms; instead you'll see a hallway with two bathroom doors that you can actually find without pushing on random walls and looking like an idiot.

"'Excellent!' I cried. 'Elementary,' said he."

The upscale industrial space is a welcome change from the dusky pub that was Sherlock's (although I, for one, will miss the $1 drink specials). The bar and restaurant, under the same ownership as the former tenant, is hoping to better cater to patrons of the River Oaks/Montrose neighborhood in which it resides...and I'd say the plan is working.

During the soft opening, I stopped by for a Thursday night happy hour and found the place packed with young professionals letting off steam after work. My fiancé and I sat out on the pleasant indoor patio, feeling the breeze from outside and looking in on the action inside. The staff, while new, was hustling to keep up with the crowd.

With our priorities straight, we started by scanning their superb beer list. As I learned on a subsequent Sunday evening trip in which I chatted with the manager, the restaurant has 48 different kinds of craft beer on tap (and 52 bottled) -- the majority of them locally brewed (meaning the breweries are in Texas or, even better, Houston). The restaurant does its best to emphasize the local here, whether it be by being the first Houston bar to tap a certain brew or featuring Texas-distilled spirits in its signature cocktails.

We each started with Dallas-based Deep Ellum brews; a Rye Pilsner for me and a Cherry Chocolate Double Stout for Dave. No matter what you like, there is a beer here for you. And if you're having trouble deciding, just ask; the staff and super-knowledgeable bartenders are eager to please. During the later Sunday night love affair with Local Pour, we even enjoyed blind tastings of Katy's No Label Don Jalapeño Ale -- a must-try for the adventurous. Don't worry, there's more taste than burn.

The food menu, too, is diverse and filled with shareable apps, salads, burgers and sandwiches, and entrées like Southern Star-braised short ribs or shrimp and grits. We were in the mood for the basics, so we split calamari fries and ordered a chicken and avocado sandwich (me) and the simple burger (him).

The calamari fries were delicious but a bit confusing; with each panko-crusted bite, my mouth was expecting the ooze of a mozzarella stick while my mind was like, calm down, bitch, you're eating fish sticks. Regardless, I used the super-crispy calamari sticks to scoop up the creamy Serrano-kicked aioli served alongside.

Here's where I went wrong: While I loved the hell out of the dip with the calamari fries, it was also the star of my sandwich. By the time I went to dig in to my wood-grilled chicken sandwich -- topped with aged cheddar, fresh chunks of avocado, tomato and the Serrano aioli -- I was a bit over the flavor. Realizing this was no fault but my own, I scooped off the sauce and enjoyed the sandwich without it. The light and fluffy, grilled and buttered bun worked wonders to keep the sandwich special.

Then, being a complete contradiction to myself, I dunked our sides -- piping hot, fresh-cut fries and battered zucchini sticks -- into the pile of sauce that I had just mopped off my sandwich. Whatever, it was delicious.

Dave, too, enjoyed his burger, but stated that it was pretty standard as far as bar burgers go. Perhaps that's because he didn't go for the LP's USDA Choice burger -- a short rib and chuck patty that's topped with melted blue cheese crumbles and caramelized onion before being served on a croissant bun. You heard me right -- a croissant bun.

At least now I know what I'm getting next time (and I can't wait until then)...

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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano