Monica invited me to a tasting at The Lokal.
Cafe hoppers will tell you that there are four kinds of trendy cafes. Some have good coffee but average food. Others, average coffee with good food. Quite a few are all style with little substance, serving average coffee, average food. The rarest gems are those with both good coffee and good food.
I would put The Lokal in the coveted category, of good coffee and good food - add in good ambiance and the right vibes too.
Stepping into The Lokal, the large coffee bar and the aroma of coffee signalled that this cafe is serious about their caffeine. Monica told me that The Lokal is a sister cafe of Sarnies cafe (at Telok Ayer street) which I've heard is well respected in Singapore's coffee drinking circles. (I've not visited Sarnies before.)
The decor is eclectic - some blue, black, some white, a bit of wood, geometrics and random splashes of loud psychedelic colours. Still, it all comes together into a comfortable welcoming space.
Walking past the long narrow space in front of the coffee bar (which also serves beer, cider, teas and smoothies), the cafe opens up to a wider, squarish space at the back with an open kitchen.
Here we can see Chef owner Darren Farr at work, helming the busy kitchen.
Hailing from Sydney Australia, Darren was one of the founding chefs of Sydney's famed Tetsuya. He later moved to London before opening The Lokal here. With Darren's imprint, it's no surprise then that many felt The Lokal has the Aussie vibes. (I have not been to Tetsuya, so here is the Wikipedia article.)
Chef Darren who grew up in a farm feels very close to nature and natural produce. Hence, he is very particular about freshness in the food he serves, to the extent that The Lokal makes much of their food from scratch. They even smoke and cure their own fish and meat.
Since The Lokal is a cafe first, let's talk about the coffee first. The Lokal gets it's blends from Sarnies, it's big sister. The blends are rotated regularly, so coffee geeks will experience something different with each visit.
Barista Siraj hand brewed an El Salvadorian blend for us today. The brew had medium body with hints of walnut and chocolate flavours. The coffee had a bittersweet finish which I liked.
Barista Charmaine made me a mocha. Blend of espresso, chocolate and milk, the smooth, creamy, chocolaty sweet brew would be perfect for chocolate lovers.
Barista Siraj personally made this cold brew of Ethiopian Sidarmo. Medium body, berry notes with a smooth finish.
We sampled three dishes from the Day Menu which is available from 8:00am to 3:00pm daily.
Salad of roast cauliflower, carrots, green beans, quinoa, dried apricot, almonds, and whey dressing (SGD16++).
Hannah was very impressed with this salad, saying she love it a few times during the tasting. Though I am not a salad person, I too liked the interesting textures in the jumble of juicy crunchies and tender gritty nutties heaped in the old school enamel plate. The tart, savoury, sweet and nutty flavours added to the enjoyment.
Black pearl breakfast BLT, charcoal and squid ink sesame burger bun with fried bacon, fried egg, tomato, lettuce, and homemade ketchup (SGD16++).
hmmm..... bacon and egg lovers may love this burger. The savoury fried bacon wasn't crackly crispy. Personally, I associate burgers with something meaty and juicy between the buns.
Roast chicken ciabatta with oozy refreshing smashed avocado, romaine lettuce, tomato, bacon and aioli dressing (SGD18++).
The roast chicken shredded and served without skin or bones was tender and naturally sweet. A healthful clean tasting, slightly sweet brunch with a slice of crispy fried turkey bacon for added savouriness and crisp ;-D
I like this filling brunch.
This ice cream topped with chocolate, nuts and crunchy crumbles with compliments from Chef Darren, wasn't on the menu ;-D
The Lokal is one of the over 750+ Singapore restaurants, hotels and others that honour "The Entertainer App".
The "The Entertainer App" lets you enjoy "buy 1 get 1 free" deals at participating restaurants such as The Lokal. For example, when you have a Roast Chicken Ciabatta mains and your companion orders the Black Pearl Breakfast BLT, you only need to pay for your Roast Chicken Ciabatta.
If you haven't got "The Entertainer App 2015" yet, you can download and purchase it from iTunes or Play Store at SGD60 (early bird offer).
If you use my promo code 2015JOHOR, you will get an additional 10% discount off SGD60 (early bird offer). Early bird and 10% discount are valid till 28 Feb 2015.
The Lokal is a good place to chill with good coffee and good food. With The Entertainer App, you get an even better deal. I can picture myself here, with my lappy, happily nursing a cup of cappuccino ;-D
The signboard for The Lokal isn't obvious at all. So, look out for the Geothe Institute and The Lokal is at the ground floor of the corner lot - right at the junction of Neil Road and Bukit Pasoh Road (directly opposite The Pinnacle@Duxton flats). Hope that helps. I missed it on my first visit.
Restaurant name: The Lokal
Address: 136 Neil Road, Singapore
Hours: 8:00am to 6:00pm
Date visited: 4 Feb 2015
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