I really do wonder how many hipster cafes are there in Singapore. There seems to be at least 2-3 popping up every weekend! That means about 10-15 every month? That said, I still find myself seeking out the newest and the coolest to go spend my money on, because, #YOLO, and also because between cafe hopping and shopping, the former is probably cheaper. Though I did go shopping over the weekend because, #YODO (you only die once) and there's #GSS. This weekend found me checking out The Lokal (est. June 2014) located at a corner unit of the place where you can learn German from (Goethe Institute) along Neil Road.
I really like the decor of the place, hipster stereotype it might be, because I find the white/blue/wooden accents very pleasing. They even have hipster wooden fans! I also think we or our next generation can look at photos (or archaic blog posts) of today in future and see how it is like in the past, just like how I would look at photos of old American diners. Because it is slowly turning into a distinctive design style. The shophouse is small and narrow with the bar/coffee counter stretching along it, before opening up into a rectangular space with more seating. It doesn't feel cramped though, and ventilation was just fine (which is very important). It can probably seat about.. 30-40 people.
It was rather packed when I went on a Sunday afternoon at about 3pm. My friend was told there's going to be an HOUR's wait, which turned out to be grossly exaggerated since moments later some tables freed up. The manner in which the seating arrangements was done wasn't quite nice though, I heard from her. Rest of the service was alright, just not the guy that does the seating. Such a pity.
There's quite a lot of people working behind the counter, busying around. Food/drinks came rather quickly, which is good!
Apparently this is a Slayer coffee machine. It is see-through! Very cool. The barista and coffee's from Sarnies. I've tried that, and found it good. I can't really tell the difference between the 2, but then again I never could.
Here's the weekend brunch menu. I like the fact that you can customize your brunch plate with the sides. The selection also has a good mix of sweet and savoury. Prices are slightly steep for the full works, but the sandwiches and lighter stuff's alright.
Coffee menu! Of course. Again, probably about 20% more expensive than what I would liked to pay but prices include GST and does not have service charge! But it does seem like a trend nowadays for cafes to charge a lot (or is it just inflation?). Plus, Starbucks is always around to set the benchmark for pricey drinks right?
The food -- here's the Roast Chicken Panini ($15) which my friend had, and was happy with. It looks fresh and the ingredients were generous enough! I will eat this for lunch in a heartbeat.
My other friend ordered a cranberry(?) scroll, which is a flaky pastry there. I had a taste and it was also excellent. Buttery, flaky and not at all heavy. When I see pastries done well, I think back to my baking achievements and feel a bit sheepish.
And here's the toasted banana bread with homemade yogurt (non-sweet), crushed macadamia and caramelized bananas ($12). It was really awesome. My friend who had the sandwich is a huge banana bread fan, and have tried many. Her review? It's good. Definitely something you should consider ordering for dessert, or a tea time snack! The yogurt's not sweet so it helped balance out the banana bread, and the gooey banana with the bits of macadamia gave the dessert a variety of textures.
Ending with a superb cup of mocha ($6) which my friend ordered. The latte I had was good, but for chocolate fans should definitely go for the mocha which pleasantly surprised everyone. They used high quality dark chocolate, and it was fragrant and not too sweet. It's a pity the coffee taste was masked. But still, good hot chocolate is rare.
Even though there are so many hipster cafes to choose from, put The Lokal on your to-visit list if you are in the Duxton/Tanjong Pagar/Outram area, because good food + good coffee places are hard to come by. Edit May 2016: What's more, download the HollerOut app and quote "alexischeong" to enjoy 10% off your total bill of more than $50 spend!
136 Neil Road, Singapore 088865