I don’t venture across the Hudson River to try new restaurants often (even though I am originally from both Passaic and Bergen counties), but when I heard about Lokal Eatery & Bar from fellow food bloggers, I had to try it! The photos of the tables right along the river with spectacular NYC skyline views that I saw both on their official website and Yelp did not hurt, either!
If you look at the above photo, you can see that Lokal offers you the closest dining to the NYC skyline without actually eating on a raft in the Hudson, LOL! If you are lucky like I was, you can see cruise ships leaving from the piers off the West Side Highway, which is also a memorable site! I notice that there were a lot of couples out on this brick patio sharing trays of the $1 oysters—the best deal in the house!
The Lychee Martini is one of the most popular drinks at Lokal, and it lives up to the hype—it’s not overly sweet or strong like the way they are made at a lot of bars these days. (It’s made with vodka, St. Germain, lychee purée and lime juice.) I have to say the same thing about the Lokal margaritas, which you can get in the classic style, mango or strawberry. (They’re made with light tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and agave nectar.) The bar staff knows how to properly balance ingredients, that’s for sure. The price of Lokal’s signature cocktails is $15 for the most part.
The flatbread assortment at Lokal is quite impressive but I wanted to try the Margherita! The base of this pizza is a homemade soft and chewy pita that is nice and golden brown on the edges. Fresh mozzarella, homemade pesto, halved plum tomatoes and extra thick balsamic from Modena are generously drizzled on top of the flatbread before going into a coal oven. This is pretty filling and could actually serve as lunch for two if you were so inclined. I hope to go back and try the Greek version someday!
You can never have too much cheese in your life and the homemade burrata is served in a rather creative style. It sits in cold homemade marinara, then gets topped with pesto, balsamic and EVOO. You can spread this lovely mixture on the four buttery, toasted slices of French bread included!
A super special app that you usually only find at a tapas resto is the Papas Bravas. This is simply a generous portion of white potatoes cooked on the stove with spicy tomato sauce and roasted garlic aioli. It’s a great choice for vegans but this is the kind of dish any foodie would love. It reminds me of classic ratatouille but made only with potatoes. This is a big enough portion for a table of four to share as an appetizer, and it’s not too spicy—the “kick” is very slight.
The braised short ribs are immensely popular at Lokal and I found out why for myself when I ordered them! They are simmered in a red wine sauce with pearl onions and baby carrots and then served on top of a large portion of buttery potato purée. These ribs are garnished with a small roasted carrot and organic herbs. I am going to say that this dish is up there in my Short Ribs Hall Of Fame—not just because of the comforting classic brown wine sauce full of the ribs’ natural juices but because the meat has some marbling. Lokal’s beef short ribs are going to be some of the most memorable of your life! (I have noticed a trend of short ribs being dry in a lot of the city’s finest restaurants and I suspect that it is partly due to overcooking and partly due to the use of grass fed meat that is too lean in a bid to create healthier cuisine.)
There is a simple list of desserts available at Lokal, and they include Tiramisu with a unique Frangelico touch, Passionfruit Panna Cotta with strawberry glaze as shown above, sorbet (Passionfruit, Lychee or Nectarine flavors) and gelato with the choice of dulce de leche or olive oil. I enjoyed the Panna Cotta immensely—it tasted as lemony as it did sweet from the real Passionfruit used. It was truly refreshing and the firmness level was just perfect!
My dining pal Gail and I always like to share two desserts and we not only had the Panna Cotta mentioned above but the Chocolate Mousse which is served in a somewhat unusual style. It looks like a brownie bar but it is actually a firm square pie of dark chocolate mousse with light chocolate mousse on the inside. It’s topped with berry coulis and fresh strawberries. This is an amazing take on a classic French dessert and I will be coming back for it! The Frangelico flavor is not too strong as the alcohol is softened by the sweetness of the chocolate.
You will love Lokal’s large airy dining room with its ultra high ceilings and warehouse vibe as much as you will love sitting outdoors on the patio. Most of the walls are floor-to-ceiling glass so you can gaze at the great city view. There is unique quasi-punk art on the walls and a fun neon sign with the restaurant’s name on the way in by the reception desk. Lokal is a medium priced eatery with dinner entrees priced from $24 to $38 and as mentioned before, portions are generous. Talented executive chef Juan Felipe Restrepo Montaya takes the theme of the restaurant—which is basically keeping everything “farm to table”—very seriously and his takes on American and Mediterranean classics are truly creative without being intimidating. Reservations are not mandatory but suggested and families are welcome. For more info, check out their official website, www.lokalnj.com.