In the kitchen
One of the things Colin Dillon said he learned when he traveled in Ireland was that, “You didn’t drink in the house -- you went to your ‘local.’” When Dillon, Samantha Bradley, and Chris Howland — all Plymouth residents — launched Dillon’s Local at the former Park Place Tavern in Plymouth just over a year ago, they wanted to replicate that Irish concept of a local pub, with good food and reasonable prices, he said. Dillon spent almost 10 years at East Bay Grille in Plymouth. While East Bay was “like family,” he said, eventually “I had to see what else was out there.” At Dillon’s he specializes in keeping a good assortment of local and craft beers on tap and creating signature cocktails. Howland, another East Bay Grille veteran, runs the kitchen. Bradley, Dillon’s fiancé, takes care of the front of the house. The restaurant is geared toward locals, not tourists, Dillon said. “We built it for people like us.”
Dillon’s Local is in downtown Plymouth, a couple of blocks back from the water. Look for the US and Irish flags flying outside. Inside, the décor is simple but warm, with white walls, dark wood trim, a beamed ceiling, and a wood floor. The bar takes up about half the small space, with a half-dozen or so tables along the side and a small outdoor seating area. At one end is a small stage where the Lindsays perform Irish music on Monday nights (in summer, another band performs on Tuesday nights as well). We asked about a colorful sign above the kitchen proclaiming it “Violet’s Kitchen.” Turns out that when Howland was growing up, Violet was a neighbor who got him interested in cooking, Dillon said, and he still makes some of her dishes in the restaurant.
On the menu
To say that the quality of the food at this modest restaurant surprised us would be an understatement. Pub food this is not. To start, we shared a poached pear salad ($13) – pears, mixed greens, red onion, sliced almonds, gorgonzola, dried cherries, and house-made candied ginger, all in a savory vinaigrette. It was a great combination of sweet and tangy, with sharp cheese and crunchy bits of ginger. Seafood Mozambique ($20), a nod to the area’s Portuguese heritage, was a huge serving of shrimp and bay scallops over saffron risotto, topped with vegetables so finely slivered they were almost a slaw. The risotto was creamy and rich but didn’t overpower the subtle flavors of the shellfish. Bourbon-marinated steak tips, ($19) served with steak fries and whole green beans, were tender and flavorful.
On the beer front, Dillon said Guinness is always available, and he also has local, nonalcoholic, and gluten-free choices. “And because hospitality is the most important part of a restaurant,” he added, “we stock Bud Light, too.” As for cocktails, the restaurant prides itself on doing the classics, such as bourbon old-fashioneds, well and creating edgy drinks like J & G Smash, made with Jameson’s Irish whiskey, lemon juice, local honey, house-made candied ginger, and mint.
There were more surprises in store. When we asked our server which desserts were made in house, she replied, “All.” From a menu of grapenut custard, carrot cake, strawberry shortcake, and apple pie eggrolls, we chose carrot cake ($6). The big piece of dense, rich cake, with thick cream cheese frosting, garnished with fresh shredded carrot and served with whipped cream was excellent and plenty to share.
Among the restaurant’s signature items, said Dillon, are Cuban sandwiches made with mojo pork, shepherd’s pie, and Burgundy duck. Burgundy duck? At a “local”? I rest my case.
Dillon’s Local, 21 South Park Ave., Plymouth, 774-404-7913, dillonslocal.com.Ellen Albanese can be reached at email@example.com.