We have now been to this restaurant 5 times over the past 2 summersduring our annual stay in Carmel and we keep returning because in my opinion the food experience is probably the best I have had in all my travels.
Yes, their system of bringing out dishes as they are prepared is annoying for large parties that do not want to share but I like the fact that we can sample 4 or 5 dishes each. However, this system is something that should be revisited because it turns off many people. Their excuse that the kitchen is small is merely an excuse for poor kitchen organization because many larger restaurants have smaller kitchens.
I find the owner a tad annoying and obnoxious and at times rude to people. (ie. when a guest stopped by 2 hours early to ask if he could ad 2 people to his reservation he was loudly told "No" without an explanation or a more polite, "I am sorry but we are completely full tonight and we have no extra space." I could go on about other instances over my past 5 visits but my point is made.
The service is weak and there is a definite tendency for the staff to be slow to take orders and ignore customers. My last visit the 2 older ladies next to us could not get the attention of their waitress so I had to tell the waitress to go to the table. We have discovered that if you come when they open you get better service and have the attention of the staff. However once the restaurant is more than half full the problems start.
For a restaurant with "world class" food preparation the wine list is very weak and lacks imagination. They are located in a wonderful wine growing area and while they have primarily local wines the offerings do little to compliment the wonderful food. We prefer to order wine by the glass so we can tailor the selections to match each dish so they need to expand the list and preferably hire a wine consultant to work his magic and balance the offerings with the food choices.
Lokal is one of the worst restaurants when it comes to serving an appropriate amount of wine to customers who order by the glass. They serve you about an inch and half of wine in a narrow wine glass which is too little for the amount they charge.
This is a restaurant that serious foodies will love inspite of some serious managerial issues. The staff is only as strong as the management and either the owner needs some change his ways or he has to hire an experienced manager to run the restaurant for him.
I would hate to see this treasure in Carmel Valley fail but it will if things don't improve.
Remember you are in business to create a wonderful experience for your customers and the customer is king...not you.
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