Restaurant review #33 – Lokaal is a new vegetarian restaurant/tea house (opened at end of 2014) in the city center of Ghent. It’s about a 5 minute walk from the Kouter, and is located at the corner of the glass alley (red light district). The name Lokaal reveals the restaurant’s concept: using local product (from within Europe) as much as possible. There is always a vegan dish standardly available. In a newspaper article I also read they wanted to grow herbs in the restaurant room and use these in the dishes. Lokaal also offers a couple of dozen sorts of tea.
Sounds promising! So we were eager to check it out.
Options are indicated on the chalk board high up and above in the restaurant. The only thing that wasn’t vegan was said to be the quiche (I specifically asked about the bread and it was said to be vegan). The soup wasn’t red beet soup as indicated, but red cabagge soup.
We ordered the soup (4,5€) and then the sandwich with Brussels sprouts and hazelnuts (6€), and the gratin with carrots, red beet and parsnip (6€). For drinks we had appeljuice (2€).
The sandwich with hazelnut and Brussels sprouts cream was very nice. Not a big portion (some would consider this an ideal appetizer), but quite enough for me for lunch. 6 euro for some bread with cream is a bit steap though. On the other hand, the gratin with parsnip and red beet was a huge portion for only 6€. But culinary rather monotone, and with a too dominant wine flavor. I’m guessing the wine did not have the time to cook or evaporate, as it was like eating vegetables soaked in white wine.
The young lad serving us was very friendly, but not very knowledgeable (had to go check several questions we had), and hardly spoke a word Dutch. When for example asking whether any of the cakes was vegan, he first replied he didn’t know, then took a closer look at one of the two cakes and said that one was probably vegan (without knowing what pie it actually was). It didn’t give us a reassuring feeling, so we skipped dessert.
We were there on a rather cold Winter day, but couldn’t get warm inside. There only seemed to be one heater, and although the place is not that big (only about 10 seated places), that clearly wasn’t enough to heat the room. That, together with the uncomfy chairs, didn’t make it a very enjoyable lunch experience.
I looked at the flower pots at the front windows, but was disappointed to see that a lot of the herbs were wilted. There didn’t seem to be much left in there that could be used in the kitchen.
So we were rather disappointed. Altough clearly no lack of enthusiasm, and very friendly, it all felt a bit amateuristic. We like some more comfort (e.g. not having to worry about ending up with the tap in your hand when washing your hands after a loo visit). But since Ghent is a student town, maybe it can appeal to a younger generation.
All in all: great concept, not expensive, but the execution needs a lot of upgrading and finetuning before we would consider visiting again.