Saturday, May 5, 2012

Eating Lokal

The wait it over...and the Garneaus and Gonzalezs wasted no time. Lokal opened this week, after an excruciatingly long process of undoing red tape with the County, for breakfasts; tonight was the first dinner and Pia made the first reservation. Just for us. Table for six. Yes, please!

I've been dreaming about the culinary innovations of Chef Brendan since we attended the Edible Monterey Bay pop-up supper club in March.

While we perused the menu, consisting of three sections - Veggies + Sea - Land = - we started with a round of Chock Rock Vineyard's Pinot Noir and made our way around the table with celebratory toasts. "To culinary adventure." "To wonderful wives." "To lasting friendships." "To laughter." And more. Cheers!

Jenn and I started with the Beet Salad, a mosaic of red and golden beets and a creamy river that I thought was creme fraiche, but the menu read "coconut/goat dressing." I don't know whether that was coconut oil + goat cheese. Or coconut milk. Whatever it was, it was delightfully delicious.


Mike and Brian both opted for the Burnt Caesar Salad, a lightly seared romaine heart with Caesar dressing and an Asiago crisp. It looked delicious!

Brian saw the Mac and Cheese Balls and said that we had to have them. So, we ordered a portion to share as an appetizer. Cheesy orbs rolled in panko-crust and fried to a perfect golden crisp. And I, typically, don't like mac and cheese or anything fried. These were a fun mouthful.

Pia and Jake both ordered the Soil and Roots. Israeli cous cous cooked in coffee - yes, coffee! - topped with roasted veggies, sea greens and fresh herbs. I barely sneaked a spoonful before Jake devoured this creation. The coffee flavor was unmistakable, unique, and unforgettable. Wow.

While we didn't go a very good job of ordering salads so that we could taste six different ones, our entrees were all over the place. And all were outstanding.

Jenn ordered the Tare Tare, beef tartare with Chef Brendan's twist: tarragon ice cream. Last time we were there we had his mustard seed ice cream atop a Czech cabbage soup and his bay leaf ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies. I do not levy this claim lightly: the man is a culinary genius.

I selected Oysters in a Beet Mignonette. These were bursts of salt in a pool of earthy pink. I loved it!

Brian opted for the Ceviche, which we had had in March - white fish with mole cracklins, fresh avocados, lavished with fresh cilantro and kumquat juice.

Jake ordered the Sardine Bocadilla, sardines sandwiched between crisp ciabatta bread and served with a mojito aioli. This, of all the dishes, might have been my favorite of the evening. Maybe. I went to town on the crisp bones.

Speaking of 'bones', that's exactly what Pia chose. Bones. And that's what she got. Two long bones, cracked open. She spooned out the marrow and ate it with the local mushrooms atop crisp breads. Gorgeous presentation, but my least favorite of the night.

Mike picked the Pork Chop which was the largest of the entrees. So we all dug into that; I will describe it as French Onion Soup with a monster-sized chop. The onions on top were caramelized to perfection and the potatoes below had both the soft and crisp that you want in a scalloped presentation. Okay, I'm getting hungry all over again.

We didn't stop there, though we easily could have. When the waitress came over to ask if we had room for dessert, we just pointed at the sweet offerings written on the chalk wall. 'Yes.' Yes? 'One of everything.' I'm totally serious. We couldn't decide, so we ordered one of each dessert to share.

My favorite: lemon curd Napolean with blackberry and basil compote. That was third in line for most people, so I, gladly, took the lion's share of that treat.

We also had the Butterscotch Cheesecake, Kobacha Squash Cake with Orange-Cardamom Ice Cream and Champagne-Soaked Apricots, and Bittersweet Chocolate Terrine with Pinot-Noir Reduction. Here's what Pia thought of the squash cake...

We capped off the evening with mugs of steaming coffee and chalk murals.

Compliments to the chef who was tucked away in the kitchen. So, we had to tell him through the screen window of the kitchen. Truly outstanding dinner, Brendan! We will be singing your praises and sending people your way to help spread the word about Lokal.

What a fantastic evening and fun way to celebrate Jake's birthday, my birthday, the Garneau anniversary and the Gonzalez anniversary.

I feel incredibly lucky to have such generous friends who know that the way to my heart is through my stomach. I love you all!

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