February 7, 2012
As sexy as the reclaimed-wood-and-chalkboard-wall setting is, much of the excitement around about-to-be-open Lokal in Carmel can be found in the food.
Both the ambiance and the grub get extended study in the Wine & Food issue on streets now with the piece Lokal Yokels: Brendan Jones recruits a partner from Prague to give the area an infusion of foodie energy.
Below appear peeks into (1) the restaurant feel, (2) a taste of a sample menu and (3) an update on an opening date dangling between supply arrivals and permit approvals.
First a quick look inside:
My favorite part of the design is the pieces of old fence they used to flank the bar. The graying color and texture fit organically and beautifully.
There will be a little cowboy to the place. You can take the chef out of Cachagua (Jones will live with Zolan in an apartment behind the restaurant), but you can't take the Cachagua...
Four-tops and two-tops, with one group table, will seat a few more than 40. Jones says he'll fill the chalkboard walls with algebra-esque diagrams of his dishes.
Local beers—and one Prague pilsner—will flow from behind a bar built from redwood rescued from the Monterey Pop Festival stage.
Now a look at a potential menu, with the caveat that Jones will be shifting these constantly. (His reply to what the weekday pastas would be: "Whatever's fresh. Veggies in one. Clams if they just came in for the other.")
Expect reasonable prices for plates designed to be passed.
"They're aren't all going to be huge, so we don't have to charge too much," partner Matthew Zolan says. "It'll be similar to the Cachagua Store, maybe a little more, smaller plates $5 to $12, larger stuff $12 to $25."
Also expect knockout presentation. Few intuit how to put together a plate as creatively as Jones, from aesthetics to texture:
Crispy pig cheek salad
Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella cloud and tomato seed ectoplasm
Crab cake with avocado and deep fried aioli cubes
Sardine bocadillas with mojito aioli foam
Ceviche of the day with an ancho-chili cracklin’
Bone marrow with locally haggled mushrooms
Burnt Caesar salad with asiago lollie pops
Mixed greens salad with parsnip chips, blue cheese, cassis dressing
Fat Albert sliders steamed bums with pork belly and spicy watermelon rind
Duck confit with braised endive and quinoa
Entrecôte (aged Spanish-style steak) with local chanterelles
Finally, a word on opening: Once the fire suppression system is installed in the "the hood" and a couple of county permitting hoops are jumped through, they'll be eagerly plating practice dishes.
"Every date I have given has been thrown off by something," Jones says. "There are a ton of variables."
In other words, Jones' must-do soft-opening date of Feb. 14 seems like a looong shot. But tasty progress is taking place.