Address: 1 Young Street, Neutral Bay NSW
Tel: (02) 9904 5691
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I had seen SoCal pop up on FB a few times and was pretty curious to find out what it was all about.
Sydney’s North Shore isn’t exactly a hip and happening spot for a night out. A few places such as Blackout Cafe, Cabana Bar, the Greengate, Kipling’s and The Far North have improved the North’s nightlife, but apart from these you have to trek about 40 minutes on a train into the city to get a good bar.
I was super excited when I then got an invite from the lovely Jo at Pendulum Communications, inviting me to the SoCal launch on Tuesday.
MC and I caught the train to North Sydney after work and jumped on a bus for a 5 minute ride to SoCal.
It is pretty easy to get to on the way there but the irregularity and infrequency of buses on the way back makes it a little difficult to stay out very late if you’re not driving or getting a lift.
That said, Neutral Bay is a nice area and SoCal or even The Oaks would be great for a day time visit for lunch on the weekend.
SoCal is a new initiative by Chef James Privett of Bistro CBD, and Hamish Watts and Ben Carroll of Applejack Hospitality (which also own Bondi Hardware and The Botanist).
The place has a 2.00am licence and can fit 100 diners inside and another 50 outside.
As we walked in and up the flight of stairs we were greeted by about three different ladies all dressed in various shades of yellow.
The girls were all friendly and welcoming and invited us to take a seat somewhere while drinks were being prepared.
We chose a seat outside at one of the little tables in the middle of the court yard and had a look around.
The outdoor area is full of bright and summery colours, particularly blues, yellows and oranges. The white furniture and planters contrasted strikingly with the colour and gave the place a very beachy and fun look.
I could definitely see the Southern Californian touches with the painted stools and South American influences such as habanero sauce on the table and palm trees around the courtyard.
The outdoor area also had a semi-covered pergola with coloured lights which looked beautiful at night time.
After a few hours outside, we began to get a little cold (summer hasn’t quite kicked in fully), so we decided to move indoors.
SoCal’s indoor section has beautiful cushions, high tables and a bar area with a DJ and stools around a tiled table.
It’s a cosy and fun setting and the chilled out atmosphere, combined with funky unique music and funny bar tenders makes for an awesome hang out spot!
Once the place started to fill up a little, the staff came around with some drinks.
The menu on the table featured a variety of cocktails, wines, beers and spirits.
On offer were some of the American brands such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Pacifico and the very Mexican, Coronas.
MC enjoyed both these beers and had quite a few!
I, on the other hand, went for the Del Martini, featuring vodka, peach liqueur and nectar, lime juice, sugar and peach bitters.
The martini was delicious, very sweet and fairly strong, just the way I like it.
The beautiful bright yellow and the refreshing mint leaf made it feel very tropical and I enjoyed pretending to sip on a cocktail and imagining I was at a beach house in Mexico.
Once the food came around (past the other hungry scavengers waiting by the kitchen and the bar to grab some!), we were quite pleased with the variety on offer.
First up was a Hawaiian Tuna Poke. What is a “tuna poke” I hear you ask?
Well I thought the same thing. A quick Google informed me that it is a raw fish appetiser, served in Hawaiian cuisine.
This “poke” was served on a toasty corn tostada.
I really enjoyed the refreshing taste of the slightly oily tuna combined with a little lemon or lime juice and fresh herbs. MC, who is not really a fan or raw fish, and who only ate sushi for the first time a few years ago, actually had a second serving of this tuna poke when it came around AND he enjoyed it. Amazing!
After a loooong food drought during which one waitress kept serving food to the same crowd of people, leaving none for us, MC finally managed to pick up two hot dogs on his way back from the bar.
The hot dogs, SoCal Chilli Dogs, were mini frankfurts on a soft and chewy bun, topped with black beans, chilli, cheese, tomato sauce and mustard.
They weren’t my favourite thing on the menu (especially when I ate parts that weren’t covered in the chilli) but MC enjoyed them, so maybe it’s a dude food?!
Next up were the Crab and Sopressata Empanadas.
These tasted a bit too fishy for my liking, but the crunchy pastry and creamy sauce (I don’t know what was in it) were delicious! The pastry reminded me a little of the pastry used in Sri Lankan patties.
We managed to pick up some Pollo Loco Pinchos – spiced chicken skewers on rice with sauce Mole. The cute boats were perfect for this dish and made it look very beachy and exotic.
The chicken pieces were well cooked through without being too dry and the quinoa, pea, lemon and herb mixture was very fresh and light.
I really enjoyed this dish and would order it again.
Finally, for dessert, we had Churros with Chocolate Sauce. Of course, being a sugarholic, I loved this!
The churros were tasty and golden, cooked until crunchy and coated in cinnamon sugar. The dark chocolate sauce was a little bitter for the churros but was a nice way to end the meal.
Overall, MC and I had a fun night out at SoCal.
We enjoyed the music and fun atmosphere, loved the funky and beachy decor, and enjoyed the interesting and unique food on offer.
This will definitely be one of summer’s hot spots on the Lower North Shore.
I would rate my experience (out of 10):
- Service- 6.5
- Food- 7
- Ambience- 8.75
- Value – 7
TCFB and MC were invited as guests of Pendulum Communications and SoCal.