This meal was independently paid for.
I stumbled across SoCal while wandering around Neutral Bay one afternoon. It has a bit of a hidden entrance on Young Street, but the aqua blue door and walls to the stairwell beckoned me up for a look. I was warmly greeted, even though it was three in the afternoon, and I asked if I could look at the menu. The Octopus Tostada immediately caught my eye and the smell of the smoker lured me to keep perusing the menu. I fell in love at first sight.
Luckily it was that lovely down time prior to the prepping before the dinner rush, so I was able to have a bit of a chat to the chef Tomaz Salema Reis about the menu, cooking techniques and ingredients he uses. To his credit Tomaz listened intently to my tale, answered all my questions and even ducked back into the kitchen to ensure that the ingredients for the homemade BBQ sauce didn’t have preservatives. Recon mission was successful and we had a new restaurant to try.
Stuart and I went round for a bit of a Friday night date night. We tried to get a booking through Dimi but they were booked out so we decided to take our chances at the door. We arrived a bit before seven to find the place packed with the after work crowd tucking into share plates. We left our name at the door after being told it would be a 15-20 minute wait.
I made my way to the bar and Stuart staked us out a place to stand on the rooftop patio. They have a comprehensive bar menu, but it was lacking any mocktails. The Tiki Tropicana took my eye as it’s a mixture of pineapple, coconut and mango so I asked if I could get one without alcohol. The bartender made them with an appropriate flourish and I found my love on the patio. He was pleasantly surprised with his little treat since he was expecting a glass of water. The Tiki Tropicana was wonderfully tropical and the mango kept it from being just another piña colada.
After a few sips we were retrieved as our table was ready in the main dining area. The noise was a little too loud for us to have a conversation and not just us, as we saw everyone leaning into each others ears to talk. Since literally everything was on the menu we decided to share a bunch of small plates. The initial stop by the wait staff resulted in some guacamole with black corn chips while we picked our plates. The smooth guacamole is like that found in northern Mexico with just the right amount of onion and lime so as not to overburden the avocado.
We decided to try the Octopus Tostada, Halloumi Tacos and Smoked Brisket Quesadilla and held onto the menu in case that wasn’t enough food.
First up we shared an Octopus Tostada. It was over burdened with succulent octopus and we couldn’t wait to have a taste. The octopus was cooked to a perfect melt in your mouth consistency, tossed in a coriander vinaigrette and glued to a black corn tostada with a thin layer of guacamole. By far the favorite dish of the evening.
The Halloumi Tacos were a bit disappointing. The saltiness of the halloumi was lost in the overabundance of a cabbage heavy slaw and a bland flour tortilla. We both agreed that this dish would be better if there was more halloumi, less slaw and served on a corn tortilla.
Luckily the quickly served Smoked Brisket Quesadilla saved the day with melted cheese oozing from the slices. The sweet, smoky smell of the brisket and apple BBQ sauce started my mouth watering. We were not disappointed. The flour tortillas were abundantly packed with tender brisket, lightly toasted with just enough gooey cheese to hold it all together. After sharing this dish we were just the right amount of full.
The best part, Stuart woke up the next morning with no migraine 🤓
SoCal, so worth it. I’m giving it 💜💜💜💜. Will we go there again? You betcha! Enjoy my friends.
SoCal 1 Young St, Neutral Bay NSW. 9904 5691 Open for dinner every night, lunch Wednesday to Sunday. Bookings recommended.