Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
Last Saturday, I was invited at Lokal in Jersey City, for the restaurant opening. I know: when people think about New Jersey, they wonder if they need their passport, but, in fact, between the ferry from the World Trade Center to the path train to Exchange Place or Newport, it is very easy to go there and you can enjoy delicious food while admiring a breathtaking view of Manhattan.
Result of the collaboration of co-owner Mona Panjwani and “concept creator” Hemant Phul, this place has an elegant feel without being stuffy, modern yet rustic. The floor to ceiling windows give a certain dimension to this big place, and the decor is stunning, with its copper like panels full of geometric shapes, the mural at the entrance where communal tables are lined up giving an urban tone and the small lounge in the back with its selfie wall and a mural that in fact is a take on Lady Liberty who, unknown to many, belongs to the State of New Jersey. And do not expect to see TVs: this is a place to share a drink or a meal, not a game.
The bar is pretty impressive, with a selection of quality spirits and cocktails crafted by mixologist Tess Sawyer. They gracefully served a non-alcoholic cocktail to Jodi that is normally made with bourbon or tequila and contains blueberry puree (reference to New Jersey), mint and bee pollen. With its purple color and flower, it looked beautiful. On my side, I settled for a classic Manhattan that I was glad was not served in a martini glass…
The menu, created by Executive chef Walter Donadio is international with flavors from all around the world and there is a large selection of small plates that are perfect to share and allow trying multiple dishes. This is what he focussed on as you can see below:
The first dish was the trio of hummus: I like the idea that is like the trio of guacamole that you sometimes see in Mexican restaurants. It was served with homemade naan that was delightfully chewy and composed of a classic hummus, a spicy carrot and a sun-dried tomato hummus. I loved these different hummus, and should mention that Jodi does not really like carrots but loved their spicy carrot hummus that was not spicy at all.
Next was the Mac and cheese that was made with a mornay sauce: very creamy, I loved the fact that it was made with pasta shaped like a cup, smothered in cheese.
It was followed by pan seared scallops sitting on an acorn squash veloute and topped with an apple salad. They for sure know how to pan sear scallops that were perfectly made and not rubbery, with a nice crust on top.
If you like seafood, try the rock shrimp smothered in gochujang: this was one of my favorites! Not spicy, crispy and slightly greasy, I simply loved it!
One of the vegetarian dishes Jodi wanted to try was the Mushroom al Ajilo, made with enoki, maitake, shimeshi, and black trumpet, accompanied by cauliflower and piquillo pepper.
The last small plate was the pot of mussels, with a sublime coconut sauce in the bottom where I dipped the buttery bread that it came with.
Last was dessert and we finished with fireworks (not literally, gastronomically): we first tried their tiramisu that was really well done, creamy with the lady fingers properly soaked in coffee. And then their chocolate mousse made with Valrhona chocolate: a white and dark chocolate shell with a delicious mousse inside: I recommend it!
This was a superb meal in a great atmosphere: Lokal is a perfect addition to the restaurant scene in Jersey City and I cannot wait to try their brunch that starts in couple of weeks.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Lokal - 2nd St Unit 101, Jersey City, NJ 07302