Local Spouts isn't for those who belly grumble over the terms "local" or "sustainable." It's not for those who like to keep their plates and their politics separate. They, as you can see from the wall painting in the cafe, wear their commitment to the community, and those that provide their food, proudly.
The space, filled with art, 'Zines, community fliers, t-shirts, teas and other local wares is so engaging that I felt a smidge over stimulated (in a good way) when we first walked in. I had never more than looked in the windows once or twice and now that I was fully inside, I wondered what had stopped me from venturing further. Honestly, I had my own (wrongfully) preconceived notions that it's food was comprised of mostly vegan 'lot' food and that just doesn't really do it for me unless The Missus and I are strolling down Shakedown. Can I just say how horribly wrong and ignorant I was?
Our first trip down to 649 Congress Street was for a night of music and fundraising for Cause for Paws (A HUGE amount of thanks to Figa Restaurant and Sweet Marguerites for their donations!). It was a beautiful evening of friends and food and the space was filled with so much love that it spilled out onto Congress. While musicians, like local Rockabilly master Sean Mencher and His Rhythm Kings, filled the space with music, we filled our bellies with simple, creative food from the kitchen.
The Missus ordered the fish tacos. The plate, loaded with a generous portion of beans, rice, slaw, salsa and seared fish, looked fresh and beautiful. Truthfully, I didn't snag anything more than a bite of her pancake like tortillas (which we both thought were a bit odd in texture) but she seemed to enjoy everything on top of them. I could hardly pull myself away from my own plate to steal any more bites from hers. She also enjoyed an Allagash White, one of many locally produced brews and beverages available and served in mason jars. Actually, our group may have used every single jelly jar in the joint. There was a lot of celebrating.
But, I digress.
I chose the Peanut Tofu, with seasonal vegetables, and the flavors of the dish could have easily stood next to those from some of the best Thai restaurants in town. The noodles were well coated, but not drowned, in a slightly spicy, tangy peanut sauce. The vegetables (broccoli, carrot, cabbage, scallion, red onion and pea shoots) were abundant and perfectly crisp and the tofu had a nice crisp crust on the outside that prevented it from breaking down when tossed with the noodles and added a nice layer of flavor. The portions of each were so large that we easily made two meals out of the leftovers, making it a ridiculously good deal on top of a wonderful meal in a fun, comfortable environment.
The staff was kind, patient and attentive amongst the organized chaos that we created at the counter and the weeds we threw the kitchen into. They were more than helpful in asking if we needed anything while setting up and didn't rush us out when we kept them past closing. They made us feel like every member of our group, even those of us who were there for the first time, was part of their cozy cooperative family. And it's that vibe, but more so the food, that will bring us back again and again.