I’ve made a note to come back to the Soba Bar in Hanover Street and try again.
Our visit was a spur of the moment decision, we leapt in the taxi, quizzed the driver about his views of the place and were safely dropped off at the door. Soba looked very busy, so much so that the taxi driver was chuckling as he drove off.
I think bars with good food in the centre of the city can be a victim of their own success. Bar Soba (or is Soba bar?) was packed with folk and it was hard enough just to get a step in from the door. The problem was that a small horde of drinkers by the bar didn’t want to move to let us past and this was compounded by Soba having an extra long table perfectly placed just there to create a bottleneck.
The good news is that staff very quickly met us and went off to find a table. When I say the bar was busy – I mean it was full of social drinkers. There was still dining space at the back and we didn’t have to wait more than a minute for a place.
I was pleased when our helpful waitress led us to the back of the bar, up a twisty flight of stairs and to a balcony dining area. The opening balcony meant we could see the busy bar below but there was some degree of separation and it was not too noisy.
I found the menu to be a little scary. The food looked like it would be wonderful but adventurous. It was one of those menus you can be pretty sure would hold a number of items you would love to sample but which you may only discover when they’re delivered to someone else at your table. I went for one their curries. Whereas I enjoyed my katsu I wish now I had tried the Massaman beef curry instead. This is one of the reasons I will, one day, pop back to Soba.
Equally, while the meal was quite good I’m sure it was frustratingly close to be much better. The fact that the bar was super busy the kitchen was likely just as busy may have been a factor. Maybe it was a new chef. It’s only speculation. I’m not a particularly sophisticated diner, in fact, I’m pretty straight forward and if someone like me is wondering whether someone made a mistake with the dish then that’s a warning.
Even though it was very busy I’ll say that the wait staff – and we had about three different people serve us (just two of us) for our short stay – were very quick and pleasant. There was a wait between main course and desserts which was noticeable but a few minutes shy of being too long of a wait. This may have been a shift change, due to the crowds downstairs and while it was not a showstopper it was another one of those minor irritations.
“Good enough” could be one way to summarise the Bar Soba experience except for the very strong suspicion that we just picked a bad, busy, day. I will go back and try again. I’ll test my hunch that Soba is normally safely an A grade rather than a B. I’ll be disappointed if I’m wrong and not surprised if I’m right. I’m just not sure how much of a priority I’ll give the experiment.
Overall; I think it’s pretty simple- fan of Pan-Asian food. Like stuff like fusion cuisine? Then certainly pop into Bar Soba, at the worst it’ll still be good enough, but let me know what you thought in the comments below.