Hot EatsAug 01, 2012
Hot Eats: SoHo Restaurant and Lounge
Finger-lickin’ food meets booty-shakin’ beats at this one-stop southern shop.
Story: Amy De La Hunt
Photos: Jennifer Silverberg
There are some things in life you can fake, but Southern hospitality is not one of them—either you have it or you don’t. SoHo Restaurant and Lounge does. When owner Brandon Storman explains the name (SOuthern HOspitality) and says, “We truly look forward to serving our customers with a smile,” he means it. His staff is universally friendly and obliging. Of course, it helps that their first interaction with customers involves delivering a cone of warm deep-fried cornbread balls. Who could complain about a greeting like that?
The first-time restaurateur and club proprietor has a background in events, so Storman knows how to throw a party. Running a restaurant day in and day out, however, takes another level of planning and expertise. Along a strip like The Grove, where customers can easily move on if they’re not satisfied with the food or the music, there’s no room for rookie mistakes or bad first impressions. So, Storman knew he’d need to take a cue from consultants and industry veterans.
Visually, SoHo makes a very memorable, modern first impression, thanks to interior work by Blackline Design and Construction. The wedge-shaped building tapers toward the dance floor, and beyond that, a streetscape patio juts toward Manchester Avenue. The restaurant end is wide and relatively spacious.
First, the food when building the menu, Storman relied on tastes of home—like the seven layer salad, a family staple at his own Easter dinner. Contemporary tweaks include spinach instead of lettuce, but the traditional creamy-rich mayonnaise dressing is so spot-on it could have been pulled directly from his mom’s recipe file.
Jamaican jerk chicken has less spice rub than expected, but still packs a decent amount of heat; a side of black beans helps slow the burn. By comparison, the same beans with the perfectly tender salmon are more about texture contrast than flavor.
Overshadowing everything else— even the fried green tomatoes and the chicken and waffles—is the sweet potato cheesecake, featuring two spheres of creamy decadence with a pastry crust.
Then, the party SoHo lies along the path of The Grove’s westward expansion along Manchester, beyond an already-eclectic mix of entertainment that ranges from indie bands to burlesque shows. It finds a niche with DJs spinning Top 40s, house, techno and hip-hop in the lounge on Fridays and Saturdays. As of press time, Storman was working to add live jazz on Thursday nights.
The venue’s crowning touch is the second floor, with private party rooms, another bar and a rooftop patio with four lounge areas overlooking The Grove. While the crowd downstairs might be groovin’ on half-price drinks at Friday happy hours with DJ Kue, upstairs it’s all about relaxing and enjoying the view. About the only way it could get more Southern-style comfortable would be to add hammocks—which might be taking Storman’s invitation to “make yourself at home” a little too far.
SoHo Restaurant and Lounge 4229 Manchester Ave., The Grove 314.932.5554 Entrées $10-$18 Kitchen Hours: Wed.-Sat., 5-10pm Late-Night Menu: Fri.-Sat., 10pm-12am
Tips for a top-notch experience at SoHo Restaurant and Lounge.
Top Dish: Sweet potato cheesecake
Popular Pour: Pineapple upside-down drink
Best Place to Perch: Lounge seating on the rooftop patio
Insider Tip: The lounge gives “chill out” a whole new meaning.
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