News and Observer Review: Locals Oyster Bar

Locals Oyster Bar’s restaurant brings flawlessly fresh seafood to Transfer Co. Food Hall

Big thanks to The News and Observer and Greg Cox for highlighting Locals Oyster Bar at Transfer Co. Food Hall.

“Had lunch today with a couple of friends at Locals Oyster Bar in the new Transfer Co. Food Hall. It was my first meal there, though I’ve willingly stood in long lines at farmers markets to buy a piece of fish from Locals Seafood to take home and cook on the grill. I’ve enjoyed their fresh-from-the-coast seafood in restaurants, too, more times than I can count.

Now the Locals folks have teamed up with Person Street Bar to open a combination seafood market, restaurant and bar. They landed Eric Montagne, a South Florida native who was formerly executive chef at Vivian Howard’s Boiler Room in Kinston, and more recently Standard Foods, to helm the kitchen crew.

To say I’ve been looking forward to eating here would be an understatement.

I got there early, had time to scope out the place. The food hall is still a work in progress, Locals being one of just a handful of vendors that have opened for business. They’re already doing a brisk trade, though, I’m guessing partly because of Locals Seafood’s strong reputation. The market’s mouthwatering display of fresh fish, seafood salads and oysters and clams spilling out of wire baskets onto crushed ice can’t hurt, either.

When my lunch companions got there, we ordered at the counter and grabbed one of the high-top tables in the food hall common area. We hadn’t been chatting for long when we were notified by text (they take a cell phone number when you order) that our food was ready.

One of my friends had ordered the shrimp po’ boy, and one opted for Locals’ take on fish and chips — today, speckled trout in a light cornmeal breading. I got the grilled fish sandwich (today’s catch was Almaco jack, a mild white fish with a firm, tuna-like texture). I splurged on a side of fries with optional bottarga, which I had to Google to learn is salted, cured fish roe. The bottarga — which turned out to be a sprinkling of yellowish grains barely larger than salt crystals — was more subtle than I’d expected, adding a salty note and a hint of umami to the crispy skin-on fries.

An enthusiastic thumbs up from all three of us. Can’t wait to get back.”

Read the entire article here.