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“ON THE PRICEY SIDE, BUT EXCELLENT QUALITY/SERVICE”
Review of Lokal Restaurant - CLOSED

Lokal Restaurant
Cuisines: Spanish
Dining options: Breakfast, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Reservations
Carmel Valley, California
Level 5 Contributor
58 reviews
34 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
“ON THE PRICEY SIDE, BUT EXCELLENT QUALITY/SERVICE”
Reviewed September 20, 2012

We are locals, and tried Lokal for breakfast recently. This space has been completely remodeled since the previous restaurant, and the interior is nicely, but casually done (chalkboard paint on the walls, and decorated with chalk drawings, etc.). They do breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were there for breakfast on a Saturday. There was a nice selection of available items. My husband had the omlette, which was perfectly cooked and he enjoyed, came with home fries, and toast. I had bacon and eggs with toast and fruit (the egg dishes come with home fries, but they are pre-cooked with onions and peppers which I don't like). They substituted the fruit at no addtional charge, and provided a beautiful plate with a generous serving of fruit that was all ripe and delicious including mellon, strawberries, blue, black and rasberries. The bacon was cooked perfectly and the eggs cooked to order. at about $13 for each breakfast, I guess I did think the pricing a little high for a simple breakfast, more than some other options in Carmel Valley, but certainly well done. We also looked at the dinner menu, and again, this is not a "cheap date" location - most items in the $16 - $24 price range.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank jana c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

86 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Monterey, California
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“A Waste of Time and Money”
Reviewed August 29, 2012

It would be great to have some more good or at least reasonable places to eat out in Carmel Valley Village when going out there for wine tasting or just to enjoy the atmosphere. Unfortunately, Lokal is simply not a good choice. In fact, while the outside is sort of reasonable, the inside is simply ugly, and we aren't talking about the décor.

We had no preconceptions and hadn't read any reviews before going in one morning while visiting friends out in the valley. The outside looks reasonable, and while there are some really very good spots for breakfast nearby (Toast, Kathy's Kitchen, Wild Goose, etc.) we like to try new places and decided to give this one a chance. This was in early June and apparently it had just recently opened. The first thing we noticed was that the four of us just had to stand around for five to ten minutes before we could get anyone's attention. It wasn't like it was all that busy, but the waiters all seemed to be missing in action, maybe somewhere in back. When one finally appeared, there was no welcome smile, no good morning, no whatever, just of kind of like – (now what do I do with them??). Since there were two other people eating something, we asked could we get breakfast and he grudgingly waved us to a table. Then we had to ask for menus, which were eventually (five minutes more) produced. When the menus finally appeared, several of our party noticed the grime on his hands and the dirt under the fingernails. Hmm-aren't they required to have one of those notices in the bathroom that says employees are required to wash their hands on visiting? Do they read the signs and follow instructions? We guess not.

After ordering, another tortuous affair, we got our orders, but it took forever. It was between 50-60 minutes to get four simple orders. What could they be doing back there? The orders were simple-omelets etc. The kitchen must be a disorganization zone. In the excrutiatingly long wait, there was no offer of a coffee refill-none! If you are going to keep people waiting forever, a coffee refill would be good-without having to send out a search party for a waiter. Some of the food was hot, some cold. That was understandable since the cook had obviously finished one order, put it aside, and then started another. After he/she finished four orders there was a lot of time for the first to cool off. When they were all brought out at the same time, one was stone cold, two lukewarm, and one hot. The hot one wasn't bad, the lukewarms were mixed, but the cold one's grease had sort of congealed and it wasn't a pretty sight (or taste) . We finally escaped after a full two hours! We had been planning on doing a few other things in the Village, but somehow most of the morning had been consumed on extracting a very, very mediocre breakfast out of Lokal.

Two months later, we were again out in the Village, and either our memories had dimmed or we were forgiving folks willing to give Lokal one more try, or we speculated that maybe they were just going through opening pains the first time. Anyway, we passed up all of the fine lunch options (Wild Goose, Rustica, Corkscrew, Toast, even the Running Iron ) and decided to give Lokal another try. Surely it couldn't be consistently as bad as the first time. Maybe they had seen the light and hired high quality people. Or maybe they had found a cook who could prepare multiple dishes at the same time. Or maybe they had tried actually training the staff. Or maybe the first time was just initial opening problems. Or maybe they were now getting the staff to wash their hands weekly or more. There were so many opportunities.

My GF and me went in at noon. Good stuff-the guy with the dirty hands/fingernails either wasn't working today or had been replaced. Same as previous- Excrutiatingly long waits to get a table(even though there were plenty of open ones), long wait to get a menu, long wait to get order placed, long wait to receive food, long wait to get check, inconsistent food quality dish to dish, some dishes hot and some cold. New stuff-bill padded with non-existent drink, actively surly waiter, soggy vegetables.

It again took well over two hours for this ugly experience. Later we looked at some Yelp reviews in trying to describe Lokal, and we found one by reviewer Sara J that summed it up perfectly-A waste of time and money.

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
13 Thank ed w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
monterey
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“TIPS- "To Insure Prompt Service"”
Reviewed August 27, 2012

We had out of town visitors come into Monterey so we decided to go out to Carmel Valley for a little wine tasting. We landed at Bernardus in the Village, which had an excellent selection at a reasonable fee. After Bernardus we went across the road to try one more tasting room, Talbott which also was first rate. After two of these, we had enough wine, crackers and pretzels, so decided to try a restaurant, Lokal, for a light late afternoon dinner before heading back to the Peninsula.

It was a disagreeable experience to say the least.

We noticed on coming in that the place is oriented towards a long and large bar, but we were looking for just a light dinner. The waiter clearly expressed his disappointment that we weren't ordering wine or other expensive drinks, and sort of grudgingly took our order for non-alcoholic drinks, salads and entrees. After about a half an hour, the salads still hadn't arrived, but the waiter had come by in the interim to again "make sure we still didn't want any wine". After 45 minutes the salads finally arrived. Sort of a mixed lot-two good and two awful. Several of them had lettuce that was either too old or had been left out. The iceberg wedge was so limp that it had obviously been frozen and re-thawed, with that gelatinous look and taste. Lots of brown ends and limp. The name of this restaurant would seem to imply local sourcing-that may or may not be but it won't matter if food storage standards aren't observed. After the salads there was another long, long wait for the entrees. In the interim, guess what, we were asked yet again if we didn't want some wine. Wow, is this place pushy. We know they probably make most of their profits on wine but this was way below professional.

After an 1 hour and a quarter, we finally had had it and my GF nicely asked what ever happened to the entrees. She got a snide remark from the waiter about how great the food would be and so why were we so impatient! Unbelievable.

The entrees were finally slapped down on the table after 1 1/2 hours. We got the tuna with seaweed, monk fish with parsnip, cream, tatsoi, and photato, butternut squash with marshmallow etc. and salmon with squash. All four of us tried each dish, trying to get past the bad service and hopefully eat before we totally ran out of time. The group all agreed on the following: The tuna was excellent, the monk fish had been drowned in so much cream that it was unrecognizable as fish (poor thing), the butternut squash was way too sweet with the gloppy marshmallow eliminating what could have been a tasty dish, and the salmon was so fatty and oily that it just seemed as if it was Atlantic farm raised. Hmm-Is Lokal really all local?.

Given the slow and rude service, and the wilted salads, and the variable quality entrees, we felt that we would leave some tip, but certainly not our normal 15-20%. It is not the waiter's fault that the kitchen is slow and disorganized, or that some dishes are virtually inedible. It is the waiter's fault if he or she is actively rude and are just pushing wine. So we left 12% which was probably more than he deserved, but how else can you send a message?

After we escaped we looked later into what this restaurant was all about. After a little research, it turns out that it is run by Brendan Jones, son of Michael Jones at the Cachagua Store. Apparently Brendan has been learning at the Cachagua Store.

This explains a lot. The Cachagua Store has a long reputation of serving some creative and good dishes, mixed randomly with virtually unedible dishes, served by people with a chip on the shoulder. There are numerous reports of cockroaches in the bathrooms, bill padding, pursuit of customers to their Facebook pages (for insisting on separate checks), diatribes on customers who have objected to being insulted and overcharged, and generally an atmosphere of discourtesy.

Lokal has two major improvements over the Cachagua Store. There are no reports of cockroaches, although it isn't summer yet. There are also no reports of bill padding yet.

It was amusing that the Coast Weekly of May 17 has indicated that the same tradition continues at Lokal. Apparently an elderly customer felt that the service was so offensive he left a 11% tip. Vicious Mike proceeded to publish a diatribe, including the customer's name and employment. Jones Junior shed crocodile tears about the "single mothers who were his waitresses, his skilled and dedicated wine steward....took it in the ***".

Perhaps if Jones hired quality people, and actually paid them fairly, he would get a result that the customers would find fair. If you hire low quality people, and pay them minimum wage, and set a management attitude of the customer comes way last, and have a slow and disorganized kitchen, then don't be surprised by the result. Anything less is hypocritical.

TIPS-To Insure Prompt Service.

Visited May 2012
Helpful?
11 Thank jesse p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Monterey
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Unique and Culinary Inspired”
Reviewed August 9, 2012

I have heard of Lokal and read recent reviews and waited a bit until the operation got up and running. I live and breath food and wine as I am in the business. I took my wife here last Friday and was entertained by the eclectic atmosphere and food. I can understand why some posts mention service issues and waits but going into it I was not expecting an elegant dining experience. This place is for foodies with and open mind and exploriative palate. A lot of the dishes were very creative and I admired the thought of the menu and pricing structure (small plates and mid level pricing to compensate for the mid level portions). A lot of the items are setup as share plates and come out to the table as soon as they hit the window. The host is also the server and runner, and bartender. For a place that only seats 30 it was well done the night I dined. Had pleasant conversation with the staff and they seemed very knowledgable on the menu and wine. With the laid back feel I would recommend to diners to bring a bottle to cork as corkage is very reasonable and you could pair most foods very easily with any verietal. My favorite course was the wedge salad with the homeade blue cheese dressing. It was the best wedge I have ever had due to the dressing (i kept thinking about it after I left). The crab dog was my second favorite and well done followed by the steak sous vid and mac and cheese balls were my least favorite. There was creativity and well balanced flavors on 75% of the dishes but what I liked most was Lokal was not the norn and sometimes it is hard to find a place to chill and have culinary inspired food at the sametime. Like any dining experience you have to match the establishment with your mood and feel. If you want a romantic dinner under candle light then choose accordingly but Lokal is more for the new age foodies with its unique style and presence in the valley.

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Love2Dine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
monterey
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Disaster”
Reviewed July 31, 2012

This place is a disaster!

Wanted to try something new so with an open mind we said what do we have to lose?

Well we found that we were to lose our Wa, our sense of equanimity to what otherwise was a beautiful day, and general good feelings to our follow man. (at least temporarily).

We went in, sat down, were totally ignored for about 10 minutes, and finally got a waiters attention-trust me it wasn't easy. When the waiter finally condescended to bring us a menu, there was no offer of water or anything, much less a smile. Definitely some sort of attitude problem. We finally succeeded in placing an order for salads along with Clams (supposedly fresh) and rare New York steak with horseradish yogurt on the side.

Then the wait, and the wait and the wait. It must have taken the better part of two hours to get completely served, during which we had to put up with no service at all. We shouldn't have to send out a search party to find the waiter in a place this small. These dishes were not complicated, When they finally came, the one thing most evident was they certainly were not worth waiting and waiting for.

The salads can best be characterized as "Tired", with aged ingrediants that had seen better days, particularly the lettuce. Why couldn't the lettuce be fresh? This shouldn't be a big challenge for any restaurant.

The "fresh" clams seemed as if they had just come out of a Snow's can. The steak had been overcooked instead of rare, then drowned in salt and pepper and the yogurt had been plopped on top instead of on the side as requested.

The topoff to this experience was that they tried to add on a charge for fictitious "mac and cheese balls". We had noticed this was available but had steered wide of it after a little discussion. It sounded too much like college.
After the fact, we found that this place is associated with Michael Jones at the Cachagua Store and the Coast Weekly repeats slander attacks on the customers who are not impressed with the restaurant.

Recommendation: pay with cash and avoid a credit card or better yet just plain avoid this place. There are lots of good choices out there in the valley. Try Toast for lunch, Cafe Rustica for dinner or Baja Cantina for just fun.

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
6 Thank charley m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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