The Lokal: What's New, Pussycat?

I have an inexhaustible list of cafes to visit and it annoys me.

As much I would love to let it go and gather just a few regulars haunts under my belt, the search ensues relentlessly, the humming of instagram as it spits out the names of the newest, the hottest and most hipster-ish cafes bugging me in my sleep.

Such an extensive selection of choices does of course bring about some benefits. For example, the crowds disperse, and there is less chance of a ridiculous wait for seats on a weekend morning. A surprising revelation for me as I stepped into a rather quiet establishment on a Saturday morning at the new cafe The Lokal located on Neil Road.

Describe by most as 'very aussie', the Lokal will have you ogling at its guyish minimalist interiors highlighted by a few industrial steel textural touches and then offset by softer symmetrical patterns. Certainly a delightful space that compels its diners to stay and linger over chatter.

Coffee is from Sarnies and hails from a customised V3 slayer espresso machine. State of the art technology combined with the likes of a masterful hand and some nutty robust roasts, the end result, a faultless latte ($5.50).

The Lokal boasts the most serious culinary muscle, with ex-Tetsuya chef Darren Farr helming the kitchen and offering his chimer of culinary influences picked up from the various kitchens he had worked in. The menu appears gutsy with an intriguing mix of old school desserts and hearty comfort pub grub given a contemporaray cafe spin.

I dive straight for the Breakfast Burger ($23), jazzed up with breaded and fried pork belly, broken omelette, spinach and chilli jam. It's less successful in the sesame bun which carried a slight plastic aftertaste possibly from the use of shortening or margarine.The tender pork belly works well on its own but seems to be a bit disjointed with the rest of the dish. Definitely a dish that fares better foretold on the menu than in the mouth.

The Roast Beef on Rye ($19) is a fairly good dish, not too adventurous but it delivers; plain and simple watercress sits on a bed of sweet caramelised onions dredged over thin slices of roast beef sandwiched between two pieces of rye bread glazed with a gutsy wholegrain mustard creme fraiche. Still, a little overpriced in my humble opinion.

Positioning itself as a social hangout, the lokal has garnered lots of attention to itself in its short span of opening till present. Though the food can be better, come for the sublime coffee and the eye candies in the open kitchen.

and if you're in search of dessert afterwards, give the banana bread (served with vanilla yogurt, toasted macademias and caramelised bananas) a go or visit Department of Caffeine (just a slight stroll away) for their signature waffles.

Valrhona Chocolate waffles with butter rum bananas, vanilla ice cream and royaltine ($20) comes to the table with the swagger of a generous dapper. Slightly stodgey in the center, possibly from the inclusion of chocolate, I enjoyed the faultless combination of rum, warm bananas and chocolate completely, fully blaming my gluttony for the tummy aches that ensued soon after. Well worth it though.

The Lokal
136 Neil Road
Singapore 088865
Tel: 6423 9918

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