For a Southern Californian-style restaurant, SoCal in Neutral Bay is the perfect spot to hang if you’re looking for a casual bar with a sunny rooftop that invites enjoyable nibbles and drink offerings that take inspiration from Mexico. The restaurant is in an unusual upstairs space in Neutral Bay, but the ambiance can’t help but make you want to relax. It was SoCal first ever Sydney #Social event for 20 food bloggers and it was an intimate sit-down dinner hosted by the fabulous Head Chef Zac Smart and Bar Manager Joe Worthington.
Starting the night with some some Mexican.
Can you spot SoCal? A hidden bar restaurant.
Behind this door, there’s a party happening.
SoCal #Social Menu
I am liking this bright wall look.
Well what do we have here? 😀
On arrival classic margarita cocktails were being served and Corn chips with Pico De Gallo, Guacamole and Salsas ($12). It’s a fun starter to share with a group of food blogger friends. The margarita sure doesn’t disappoint and instantly reminded me of summer.
For our course 1, Crab and Sopressatta Tostadas was personally delivered by Head Chef Zac Smart. The crisp tostadas shells are layered with finely chopped jalapeño, crab meats, sundried tomatoes, red onion and grated zest of lime. It’s quite a supreme version of modern-day nachos and makes the perfect appetizer as it is served individually.
Corn chips with Pico De Gallo, Guacamole and Salsas ($12)
SoCal Head Chef Zac Smart
Crab and Sopressatta Tostadas
Before we devour this delicious bite-size tostadas, Joe Worthington performs a ‘Super Amazing Mystery’ interactive cocktail experience at his mini mobile bar. The demonstration contained a lot of vibrant colours, particularly orange, so it wasn’t so hard to guess what the main ingredient in this cocktail contained.
Bar Manager Joe Worthington
‘Super Amazing Mystery’ demonstration
How adorable is this?
Look who do we have here…Chicken Sliders (4 for $20) – We’ve got our eye on these heavily marinated chicken breast with avocado and chorizo mini buns. Bursting with intense flavours and alluring aromas, I am sure you’d want to use your hands to touch this glazed brioche bun that’s evenly sprinkled with sesame seeds. All the ingredients combined together taste exceptionally good, making it so tender and juicy in your mouth.
Chicken Sliders (4 for $20)
Tempting, isn’t it?
To pair with the sliders, the Frisco Pisco that contains Chili infused Pisco, egg white, elderflower liqueur, lime, sugar and muddled cucumber is a funky favourite of mine.
We move onto our course 3, Seared Salmon ($20) with broccolini, chili and coriander salsa verde. A very pleasant and healthy plate for a protein choice dish. Though the salmon was slightly more seared like heading towards being fully cooked, however the magic off course is the flavour and that took center stage. As for a bed of green broccolini it offers a lovely crunch and to add flavour the salsa was spot on with flavour. If you closely examine, paper thin slices of sweet potato chips made this main even delightful. This main dish matched with Dry Creek, Fume Blanc, Sonoma CA.
Seared Salmon ($20)
Dry Creek, Fume Blanc 2009, Sonoma CA
There are plenty of share plates at SoCal and for course 4 –Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder ($22) with faro, freekeh, quinoa and kale, you’d be blown away on how utterly delicious this dish is. What makes the meat juicy and succulent is the cooking time. It seems like there are many steps to this dish as the quinoa has a long-lasting flavour and I may have snuck in seconds and possibly thirds. With a matched wine to go with was the Bliss Pinot Nior, Mendocino CA.
Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder ($22)
Bliss Pinot Nior 2010, Mendocino CA
For our final savoury main, course 5, we were served with Scotch Fillet ($24) with Chimmichurri. Kids, this fillet was seasoned and cooked to perfection for the medium rare fans. It was a sensational dish that kept please the meat lovers. You’ll savor every bite with matched wine with Dry Creek ‘Heritage’ Zinfandel, Sonoma CA. With a spread of chimmichuri, the texture complemented the beef so well. A slice of lemon is optional for those who like to enjoy that extra zesty kick to the dish.
Scotch Fillet ($24)
Dry Creek ‘Heritage’ Zinfandel, Sonoma CA
Mushroom salad works brilliantly well with the scotch fillet, lamb shoulder or even the seared salmon as it offers fresh mix green spinach salad, Mexican beans and a generous portion of wild flavours of mushrooms. It is so appropriate to have this salad on its own.
What a combination of scotch fillet and mushroom salad.
A joyful evening ends with Chocolate, Pistachio and tequila brownie with chipotle cream. You’ll feel some heat with this treat as the chipotle cream is spicy. The tequila brownie will knock your party socks off with the visible pistachio and it adds crunch. The texture of the brownie is soft and moist inside with an outside layer of crisp edges.
Party doesn’t end, unless you’ve been greeted with salted caramel expresso martini ($16)- A blend of Ketel one, Galliano ristretto, salted caramel and expresso with honeycomb. It’s a cocktail that’s between salty and sweet. This fashionable cocktail is full of surprises with flavours that create a twist on the trendy treat. The crowd at SoCal is well dressed and ready to take on a drink or two. If you are California dreaming , then this restaurant is a winning hot spot with sandy vibe and feel. The chicken slider, scotch fillet and mushroom salad is a thumbs up for me. As for the salted caramel expresso martini, it’s a cocktail and dessert all in one!
Salted caramel expresso martini ($16)
Photos by Vanny Tang
Disclaimer: Nessy Eater attended as a guest to SoCal #Social Event thanks to Pendulum Communications. Opinions are however, Nessy Eater’s own.
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