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Lokal - Contemporary European Cuisine

Lokal - Contemporary European Cuisine
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  • Lokal - Contemporary European Cuisine

    Post #1 - October 2nd, 2009, 3:29 pm
    Post #1 - October 2nd, 2009, 3:29 pm Post #1 - October 2nd, 2009, 3:29 pm
    Hello LTH -

    While walking my usual route down North Ave. from the train yesterday I noticed a window around 1900 N. North Ave. that said, "coming soon, Lokal - Contemporary European Cuisine". This was the first time I noticed it even though I walk that way everyday. The doors were open and I took a peek inside. They seem to be a bit far off from opening, not much built besides the bar (of course the bar is built first, the taps were even on, I only noticed Goose Island with my bad eyes). Didn't see any tables as the rest of the place was pretty dark.

    Anyway, not sure what Contemporary European Cuisine means exactly. Eastern EU? French? Lokal I think is a Swedish word but not 100% sure. But this could be one to keep an eye on. With Chaise Lounge down the street, this could be a good block to get some good eats. We'll have to wait and see.

    Lokal
    1904 W. North Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60622
    "I Like Food, Food Tastes Good" - The Descendants
  • Post #2 - October 6th, 2009, 9:51 pm
    Post #2 - October 6th, 2009, 9:51 pm Post #2 - October 6th, 2009, 9:51 pm
    thepld wrote:Anyway, not sure what Contemporary European Cuisine means exactly.


    "European" in this town usually means fancy Polish, or one of the Balkans.
  • Post #3 - November 7th, 2009, 4:50 pm
    Post #3 - November 7th, 2009, 4:50 pm Post #3 - November 7th, 2009, 4:50 pm
    RAB and I stopped in Lokal for dinner on Thursday. They've been open since Saturday and are calling this their "soft opening" period.

    I'd say that the restaurant shows a lot of promise. Most dishes were good to great - - there was only one that needs work. They are still tweaking the recipes and were very open to input. All this said, I don't want to be too critical of a new restaurant still working out a few kinks - - especially because of its potential to be a great spot.

    Concept-wise, they are trying to be European with a twist, and with a focus on updated home-style comfort food and seasonal dishes. The three co-owners are all Polish, and many of the dishes reflect that influence.

    Service was solid. Three of us were sharing all dishes, and the kitchen did a great job pacing the dishes so that we could focus on each one. Plus, they split a single bowl of soup three ways, which we appreciated, but certainly did not expect. They were also great about replacing dirty plates and flatware between courses.

    Prices were fair, with appetizers and small plates ranging from $4 to $12 and mains ranging from $7 to $19. They said that they hope to start serving breakfast/brunch within a few weeks and plan to have prices below nearby competition (Bongo Room and Jam were mentioned).

    My favorite dish of the night was the fried cabbage cakes served with a slightly spicy crème fraiche dip. These were like light, tempura fried onion strings, only cabbage. Hot, not too greasy, and with a great crispy cabbage flavor. My second favorite was a puff pastry wrapped poblano stuffed with house-made Polish sausage and roasted potatoes and bell peppers. This one was an odd mélange of Mexican and Polish flavors, but quite tasty.

    Given that their website doesn't yet have a menu, here are some other dishes:

    > Beet soup with artichoke mushroom croquette
    > Skate wing, orange infused black quinoa walnut salad, caper sauce, sauteed watercress
    > Breakfast sandwich, basted eggs, grilled tomatoes, smoked polish on foccacia
    > Sun-dried tomato portabella pearl barley risotto, red pepper and asparagus coulis
    > House made whole wheat potato pierogi in date sauce

    There were three dessert options; all raw, vegan, and sweetened with agave syrup rather than sugar. None sounded particularly appealing. (One was described as a "softball shaped mound of walnuts, cranberries, cocoa powder, and agave syrup." Pass.) I asked why they decided to do vegan, raw desserts when the rest of the menu featured meat-based, cooked dishes. Our server responded that they saw a neighborhood need for this type of dessert. And, sure, if I were a vegan, I might like to sit at the bar and have a drink and a vegan dessert. We, being three non-vegans, briefly considered walking around the corner to Mado for Allie's wonderful desserts, but realized that we were full enough to skip the sweets that night. (It's certainly a viable option to consider for the future.)

    The owners are clearly enthusiastic about this new adventure and I wish them all the best.

    Ronna
  • Post #4 - November 7th, 2009, 5:48 pm
    Post #4 - November 7th, 2009, 5:48 pm Post #4 - November 7th, 2009, 5:48 pm
    I've one thing to add about Lokal. The joint has a very modern, night clubby vibe to it. Boxy, modern furniture with a projector set up to display their logo on the stark, white wall. I also understand they are planning to have DJs and music and such. Along those lines, it really looks and feels more like a place to have a cocktail, see, and be seen than somewhere to eat modern pan-European comfort food.

    I really did enjoy the food, but I worry that Lokal will have to work through this identity crisis and decide to focus on being a restaurant before it will have a chance to be great.

    --Rich
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #5 - November 7th, 2009, 6:07 pm
    Post #5 - November 7th, 2009, 6:07 pm Post #5 - November 7th, 2009, 6:07 pm
    RAB wrote:I've one thing to add about Lokal. The joint has a very modern, night clubby vibe to it. Boxy, modern furniture with a projector set up to display their logo on the stark, white wall. I also understand they are planning to have DJs and music and such. Along those lines, it really looks and feels more like a place to have a cocktail, see, and be seen than somewhere to eat modern pan-European comfort food.


    This puts me in mind of SPROCKETS.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #6 - November 7th, 2009, 6:10 pm
    Post #6 - November 7th, 2009, 6:10 pm Post #6 - November 7th, 2009, 6:10 pm
    stevez wrote:This puts me in mind of SPROCKETS.

    "Now ees de time at LOKAL when we eat!"
    --Rich
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #7 - December 3rd, 2010, 2:53 pm
    Post #7 - December 3rd, 2010, 2:53 pm Post #7 - December 3rd, 2010, 2:53 pm
    I went here for brunch last week and was very impressed. I had the french-style omelette with bacon and goat cheese, and it was outstanding. I'm very particular about my fried potatoes and theirs were delicious. The coffee cups are a little small, bordering on a demi-tasse, but they kept the refills coming. Also, they have bottomless mimosas for $7-$8. Score!

    I thought the service was very good and the atmosphere was modern but cheerful. Could have been the reggae music...
  • Post #8 - January 9th, 2011, 11:07 pm
    Post #8 - January 9th, 2011, 11:07 pm Post #8 - January 9th, 2011, 11:07 pm
    A friend and I had a very pleasant meal at Lokal tonight. Pan-fried butternut squash pierogi were delicate and buttery, with some welcome crispy bits and nicely complimented by lightly caramelized onions and toasted hazelnuts.

    Image

    Trout was subbed for the walleye on the menu, served with beurre blanc, kasha and roasted vegetables. I didn't try it, but pescatarian friend was happy.

    Image

    I was also pleased with the venison preparation--thin, tender cuts of loin cooked medium-well and served over a rich but not too heavy bigos stew with roasted chestnuts.

    Image

    I wasn't drinking tonight, but friend enjoyed his Imbirowka, I believe, with a splash of Zubrowka, as recommended by our server, Marissa, who was very helpful throughout the evening. Then again, we were the only diners at Lokal for the duration of our meal. I don't know if the restaurant has completely worked through its identity crisis which RAB mentioned above and which I've observed as a passerby, but it was pretty relaxed tonight--no lightworks, no thumping. Also, the vegan dessert list is gone. Overall, I thought the value was good and food worth further exploration. I love my Smak Tak and Podhalanka, but it's nice to experience other skilled approaches to eastern European cuisine. Lokal deserves more attention.

    After dinner, I reluctantly agreed to frozen yogurt at Forever Yogurt just down the block. I totally fell for the cheap thrill of self-serve soft-serve in flavors like Red Velvet Cake, big cups to overfill, a relatively well-stocked toppings bar and the B96 soundtrack. Not a bad night at all.

    Forever Yogurt
    1924 West North Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60622
    773-772-4770
  • Post #9 - February 24th, 2011, 10:46 am
    Post #9 - February 24th, 2011, 10:46 am Post #9 - February 24th, 2011, 10:46 am
    Are they still doing late night hours? I drove by at 11 pm last night for a pierogi fix, but the lights were off.
    "To get long" meant to make do, to make well of whatever we had; it was about having a long view, which was endurance, and a long heart, which was hope.
    - Fae Myenne Ng, Bone
  • Post #10 - June 30th, 2011, 10:14 pm
    Post #10 - June 30th, 2011, 10:14 pm Post #10 - June 30th, 2011, 10:14 pm
    I like this place.

    I don't think there's much Polishness left on the current menu -- unless you count some pierogi and a house-made kielbasa (coarsely-ground and very tasty). The other food seems to be of the vaguely bistroey orientation, including a very credible duck leg confit (obviously not made overnight). Nothing was revelatory, just well executed and reasonably portioned. I confess that I'm not sure I'd be so bullish on this place if the prices were $5 higher, but for now this is a great spot to grab a nice meal for not very much money (even without all of the special deals they run).
  • Post #11 - September 16th, 2011, 3:46 pm
    Post #11 - September 16th, 2011, 3:46 pm Post #11 - September 16th, 2011, 3:46 pm
    Image

    I had been meaning to try out LOKaL for some time now, but given the restaurants located on that block, they've never won out. In the mood for pierogie, (and armed with a groupon), the time was now.

    Slow Roasted Pork Belly
    apple cider gastrique glaze, pickled celery, petite salad
    Image
    Delicious. cooked so perfectly, a knife was not necessary.
    Image

    Potato Pierogi
    scallion cream
    Image

    Grilled Polish Ham Sandwich
    apple tarragon slaw, gruyere cheese, herb aioli, black bread
    Image
    our waitress, Kristen, told us this was her go-to sandwich.
    Image
    I thought it was...alright. I only had a bite or two, and only really tasted slaw.

    Pork Tenderloin
    stuffed with spinach and roasted garlic, tomato-fig relish, mashed red potatoes
    Image
    Now this? This was fantastic. It has been years since I've had my Bohemian grandmother's pork tenderloin, so I was eagerly awaiting this. It did not disappoint. Meat was moist, and garlic-y, and left a smile on my face.

    Daily Dessert
    vanilla ice cream, chocolate mousse
    Image
    Yep. It sure was.

    Really enjoyed our meal. Service was great, art was cool, and the food was tasty. I'd be happy to go again. Even without a coupon.
  • Post #12 - April 14th, 2015, 1:40 pm
    Post #12 - April 14th, 2015, 1:40 pm Post #12 - April 14th, 2015, 1:40 pm
    Lokal, a Wicker Park staple for interesting Euro-inspired comfort food at dinner and brunch, cocktails, and DJs since 2009, is ready for expansion. Owner Art Wnorowski says he's taking over the long-shuttered Players Sports Bar & Grill at 2500 N. Ashland and is aiming to open a second, larger Lokal this summer. The space that last held the racing-inspired bar with the gaudy red corner signage has been vacant since early 2013.

    http://chicago.eater.com/2015/4/14/8411 ... -bar-grill
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #13 - April 14th, 2015, 1:46 pm
    Post #13 - April 14th, 2015, 1:46 pm Post #13 - April 14th, 2015, 1:46 pm
    And so, karma completes the circle. This makes a lot of sense. Honestly looking forward to it.

    BTW, Lokal is also the name of a group of excellent Czech gastropubs in Prague. Two winning "gimmicks" there: (1) Pilsner Urquell fresh from the brewery poured innumerable ways, from "creamy" (100% thick froth that I would hesitate to call "head" or "foam") and sweet to "flat" (not really flat, just no head) and bitter and (2) all you can eat Czech dumplings with dinner. I went 15 rounds with the heavyweight champ bread dumplings and won, I think. One of these days I need to do a report on my late Summer '14 trip to Bavaria/Bohemia (as does the legendary Sazerac who took a similar trip shortly before me and provided terrific recs).

    http://lokal.ambi.cz/en/
  • Post #14 - April 14th, 2015, 3:05 pm
    Post #14 - April 14th, 2015, 3:05 pm Post #14 - April 14th, 2015, 3:05 pm
    Fresh Pilsner Urquell really is the best.

    I've only been to Lokal once but had a surprisingly great meal.
  • Post #15 - April 14th, 2015, 9:21 pm
    Post #15 - April 14th, 2015, 9:21 pm Post #15 - April 14th, 2015, 9:21 pm
    Lokal is also the name of a group of excellent Czech gastropubs in Prague.


    It's also a well-known (and one of my favorites, too, from a trip a couple of years back) Berlin bistro. More here:
    http://berlinfoodstories.com/2013/05/14 ... rn-german/
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)

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