Lokaal: a slice of America in Amsterdam

Eight years ago almost to the day, I met Mr Foodie at a tailgate in Louisiana. Some may describe it as a hook-up in a carpark. Others may paint it as a love-at-first-sight, overcoming-long-distance story of romance. I tend to remember drinking beer and stuffing my face with BBQ ribs. In the intervening years, not much has changed: I can’t begin to count the number of times we’ve got drunk and eaten BBQ together. Hell, I even proposed to him after a particularly good smoked pulled pork shoulder. So it seemed fitting that for our tailgate-iversary this year, we went to the American café down the road and ate spareribs.

But that’s not all we ate at Lokaal. The real draw was the “blooming onion”, which is apparently a staple in the States but not something I’d ever had the pleasure of eating. Lokaal claims to serve the only blooming onion in Europe, but that was quickly debunked by an Instagram follower who had seen my Stories from our dinner at Lokaal and sent me a photo of more or less the same dish in Porto. But anyway – let’s just say it’s the only blooming onion in Amsterdam. By which I mean that the chef has taken a whole onion, cut into it and splayed out the layers to look like petals, covered it in breadcrumbs and deep-fried it, ready to break into chunks and dip in a mayo-based sauce. All this can be yours to share (and believe me, you’ll want to share) for just €6.50. A perfect alternative beer snack.

Lokaal - blooming onion
Mr Foodie and the blooming onion (not, after all, the only one in Europe!)

Next, we tried the rib-eye and the aforementioned pork ribs. The latter were sticky and tasty, but perhaps a little overcooked. The rib-eye was a perfect medium-rare and tender, but could’ve used a béarnaise or something saucy to go with it. Both meaty mains were served with a potato and carrot mash that was fine, and a chunk of corn that was watery and overcooked. But the latter was pretty forgivable given that it was such a small part of the plate. We also ordered sides of jacket potato and grilled asparagus, which seemed perhaps a little expensive for what they were (€3.50 each for a basic potato with crème fraiche and only five spears of asparagus) but the meat was pretty good value so the overall bill was nothing shocking.

Lokaal - American restaurant in Amsterdam
Steak ‘n ribs at Lokaal

Lokaal’s service was also above average for what’s essentially an eetcafe. We ordered a bottle of Rioja, which our waiter opened at the table but which turned out to be corked. He smelled the wine, agreed and immediately took it back. That sounds like a no-brainer but I’ve been plenty of places in Amsterdam where the staff clearly don’t know the first thing about wine and have been more than a little reluctant to bring a new bottle.

Plus, the evening we were at Lokaal, the rain was coming down in relentless sheets; the canvas roof on the front part of the café had sprung a few leaks, so the waiting staff were busy moving tables to dry spots and checking all their customers were ok. Again, this should be a given but I’ve watched as an entire gutter-load of rainwater fell on a table of customers at the Vergulden Eenhoorn and they didn’t get so much as an apology. Arguably, the owners of Lokaal should just fix the roof (or better still, get a glass one – I don’t need to feel like I’m camping in the middle of the Wibautstraat) but given that the leaking roof was no fault of the waiters, I thought they dealt with the situation admirably.

Dinner came to €78.50 for the two of us, although we added a decent tip for the America-worthy service. And then we wandered home in the rain, our bellies full of ribs and red wine, wondering how a Louisiana tailgate had somehow brought us here…

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Lokaal (American)


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