After a traumatic encounter with a monstrosity at The Plate which they have mistakenly labelled ‘laksa’, I needed to be on safe ground for my next Singapore experiment. Hence I dropped in on The Lokal.
Originally of Tetsuya’s team, Darren Farr has both impeccable experience and a mature attitude:
I’ve reached a stage in my career where I just want to keep things simple, and let the produce speak for itself.
That could certainly be the motto of Lokal in Neil Road. It was one of two places we visited more than once in our brief time in Singapore. I guess the highest accolade one could give any cafe of this type is that it would survive in the Melbourne-Adelaide-Sydney scene and Lokal does everything right. Reflecting the philosophy quoted above, much of the stepping stones of a cafe meal is made on the premises including butter, ricotta, yoghurt and the bacon/fish are cured/smoked onsite.
How much could we sample in the course of three days in a city of food? We did our best is all I can say. Coffee and tea were excellent. The milk, to my relief, after an unfortunate encounter with UHT at my hotel, was fresh. Tea drinkers will be pleased to hear that extra hot water came on demand. The granola was good enough to tempt me.
Granola with goji & berries, chia & seeds, pumpkin & sunflower seeds,
walnuts, almonds with homemade vanilla yogurt $14
Choose poached fruit or fruit salad
Mostly I find granola to be one of those things cafes think if they’ve made themselves, that in itself is sufficient, it doesn’t have to pass a taste test. Sort of like that disaster of cafe breakfasts ‘Our Baked Beans’. Well, I reckon if The Lokal ever turned its attention to this tortured food stuff it would get that right too.
Unfortunately I was a bit sick the first breakfast here. I had
Toasted banana bread, home-made vanilla yogurt, toasted macadamias, caramelised banana $12
It was okay, but the lack of enthusiasm in putting it that way was of my own making, not the fault of the dish. No, I’m going to blame the godawful laksa from the day before which was still casting its shadow. Next day I tried:
Smashed avocado, pomelo, our own ricotta, toasted almonds on sourdough $18
Such is the fashion for ‘smashed avocado’ in any number of permutations in Australia, that this can be used as The Coffeeshop Benchmark at the moment. Lokal’s passed with flying colours. The house ricotta was mild and thick and I have never seen as much attention paid to the preparation of fruit as was given to the pomelo which was broken down to its tiniest shard-like form sitting atop the avocado and ricotta along with some toasted almonds. The picture is on the indifferent side, but please note the pomelo (you can click on the picture to make it bigger):
It was no more than a hint of pomelo but that was just as it should be. The bacon was unique in my experience, a generous serve of crisp slices which had a gentleness coming, no doubt, from being prepared onsite.
We went back twice for afternoon tea. A white chocolate cake was as good as it could be – as I’m a milk chocolate addict I can’t really give white chocolate higher praise. NZ icecream was mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I regretted only getting the three scoops once Manny decided to assist me with its demolition. An apricot and pear muffin was perfectly nice, but it isn’t the something I will miss when I think back longingly to my time here. (I’m back in Geneva. Sigh.) Given the opportunity I would have been happy to try everything on the menu.
Staff were great, even when things were frenetic. Music was not too loud – I HOPE it stays this way. Please, Lokal, don’t make this a place where everybody has to shout. It would really detract from the atmosphere you have going now.
Bottom line: I agreed to queue on Saturday morning to go here and this is right up the top of my list-of-things-life’s-too-short-for. Things like don’t go swimming with crocodiles: I’m serious about not queuing. But then, we were in Singapore, a country where it is a national hobby to queue for food. It even occupies blog posts. What would you queue for? How long would you queue? Is two hours too long to queue? So I’ve queued. I survived. I’m practically a local. Or should that be Lokal?