The King and I love to go out and explore restaurants in the surrounding Kingdom. My perfect week includes a lot of playtime in the kitchen AND gallivanting the Ottawa foodies scene. The King shows patience when I pull my phone out to take pictures but I can tell he finds this practice a touch amusing if not slightly annoying, especially when he is really hungry and just wants to dig in! I therefore often refrain myself from capturing plate art, but not always… Sadly, when I actually do decide to take pictures, they often do not turn out very well and poor light is often to blame. I find using a flash distorts the true colours of the food. Not having pictures to share is the main reason I have not posted more restaurant reviews on this blog. Since we visit restaurants regularly, I feel I should make a better effort at sharing our experiences. Ottawa has evolved drastically over the last 2 decades. Although the city still has more pubs than it really needs, there is emerging culinary talent that is not afraid to showcase bold gastronomy. Ottawa is reaching beyond the stuffy steakhouses and the limp nachos!
Das Lokal is exactly that: bold, big, creative flavours! It is not your typical German “Gastshaus” although the Germanic influence can be felt throughout the menu. Hand crafted marinades, preserves, charcuteries and cheeses really shine here; the menu is big on meats. Young, hip and fresh, it offers an interesting “nouveau” twist on very traditional German cuisine. Even with some very liberal interpretations of traditional Deutschland fare, the King found it pretty darn cool and so did I! The charcuteries were outstanding. The Das Lokal Board is offered at $19 for 3 items but of course, you may add as many more as you wish. To calm our ravenous appetites, we opted for a complete smorgasbord of every type of meat and cheese they were offering that evening. I strongly encourage you do the same as it was the star of the meal. The meats, paired with well-balanced homemade jams and pickles, were extremely well executed, particularly the cured duck breast. Since the charcuterie board was rather massive, we opted for two dishes from the appetizer menu as our main entrées. Hubby took the sausage board with warm sauerkraut and mustard tomato jam ($14) to which he added an order of butter and cheddar Spaetzle ($9): we both felt the sausages and the soft buttery dumplings were a home run. I ordered the Zwiebel Kuchen ($14), an caramelized onion and leek tart served with arugula salad. It reminded me of the famous Alsatian onion tart I absolutely adore; although the tart was a fierce competitor to the beloved Rhine valley specialty, I felt the tomato sauce was a bit of a clash… But I am nit-picking here as the entire meal was spot on: delicious, served hot & fresh, abundant and satisfying. You can taste the pride of the craftsman in each dish. Only the sauerkraut left us a bit indifferent: coming from a family of sauerkraut makers, we have very strong opinions on what makes a great one! We both felt maybe the chef was trying too hard to make this dish his own at the expense of the true nature of salted fermented cabbage… Although it was good, it lacked some of the “brininess” that make sauerkraut, well, sauerkraut!
The service was equally charming and efficient. As for the ambiance, well it is a tiny spot and the tables are crammed in close proximity to one another. Having said that, we found it tastefully decorated, cozy & inviting and although it seemed the next table was close enough to be part of our own little bubble, somehow we never felt that they were infringing in our space. Maybe the live piano entertainment had a role to play in muting conversations between tables, I can’t say… But we felt very intimate in our little space, enjoying each other’s company as much as the melodies offered by a very talented piano man.
We were slightly surprised at the very limited beer selection; I think beer is to Germany what wine is to Italy and France. Could be that lack of space at the bar might be the reason for the minimalist beer menu. Overall though, our visit at Das Lokal was more than enjoyable. We have recommended to many friends and we are looking forward to return in the very near future.