Bar Soba is back with a lively new site on Greek Street in Leeds. Zoe Fryday reports
It’s the start of an exciting new era for Bar Soba. Having recently moved from its original Leeds premises into a modern site on buzzing Greek Street, the chain is “remixing” it up again, adding another layer of theatre, innovation and fun to its growing portfolio of UK bars. Spread across two floors and decked out in Bar Soba’s signature ‘urban luxue’ décor, with striking geisha-style graffiti painted by local artists, the venue’s colourful, modern interior, designed by Ross Kerr and DGA Architects, creates an impressive backdrop for the tantalising Pan Asian street food- inspired dishes and cutting-edge cocktails on offer.
Downstairs is all about entertainment and drama, boasting an integrated DJ booth with an impressive Void Acoustics sound-system and dance floor. An 11-metre-long cocktail bar is a stage where the team of talented bartenders are mixing up ‘Instagrammable’ tipples using smoke, fire and ice. Daniel Robertson, lead mixologist for the Bar Soba group, says: “I’ve always seen drinking as a multi-sensory experience, much like dining and the whole idea that you ‘eat with your eyes’. This has very much transitioned into the experience we want guests to have when drinking in Bar Soba Greek Street. It is key for the guest to not only be presented with an aesthetically pleasing drink, but to be drawn towards the making of that drink, whether it’s the flaming of an orange zest for the garnish or the smoking of our vanilla-flavoured Old Fashioned (pictured below).”
A lot of Bar Soba’s cocktails have a distinctive ‘disco vibe’ about them. The Bubblicious (pictured below), for instance, is one such wow-factor cocktail, blending Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka with Xante Pear Liqueur and glittery bubblegum foam. Daniel’s personal favourite is the vivid green Tiger Lily Colada, made with Koko Kanu coconut rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice, cherry bitters, fresh root ginger, lime juice and Pandan essence.
Innovative, theatrical cocktails aren’t the only thing on the menu at Bar Soba Greek Street. The extensive, but not overwhelming, drinks list balances the best of the east with the west, comprising Asian and continental beers, ciders, wines and a selection of gin perfect serves. The inspiration behind the menu was “two-fold”, explains David. The first concept was to tie in with Bar Soba’s ‘Remix’ ethos – the idea that as a company, they put a unique spin on everything – from food and drink to music and style of service. “With this in mind, we looked to do a lot
of twists on the classics. This has a number of bene ts in that it allows our bartenders to get to grips with classic cocktails while also setting our o ering apart from other drinks menus.” The second concept was to incorporate the Pan Asian influence that the food menu is based upon into a number of serves. With that in mind, the menu features big coconut flavours, lychee and chilli. There’s even a drink that has Pandan essence, a green plant extract that gives off a big hit of vanilla flavour.
The first floor is home to a 60-cover restaurant with flexible seating to accommodate couples and groups as well as larger parties looking to celebrate a special occasion. For the team at Bar Soba, it is important that the food and drinks offering is cohesive. With a couple of notable exceptions, everything on the drinks list is vibrant and refreshing with tons of colour – just like the grub!
Bar Soba has always taken inspiration from the street food vendors of South-East Asia, yet at the same time, making sure each dish has a unique ‘Soba twist’. The new menu blends cuisine from the streets of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, China and Vietnam, and gives each dish a remix, resulting in some flavour combinations that will challenge and delight taste-buds in equal measure. An array of unique side dishes are on offer, such as Dirty Katsu Fries with buttermilk chicken, Sriracha and mango mayo, and Coconut Onion Rings with chilli-lime mayo. Small plates feature classic Soba dishes like the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls while welcome new additions come in the shape of Korean Popcorn Chicken and Bang Bang Belly Ribs. Gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options are also available.
Designed to offer the ultimate drinking, dining and dancing experience, Bar Soba Greek Street is definitely covering all the bases. With big plans to open more venues across the UK, we’ll most likely be hearing from the operator again very soon.
Bar Soba, 6 Greek Street, Leeds, LS1 5RW
Behind the scenes
Design: Ross Kerr and DGA Architects
Main contractor: Thompsons Ltd Neon and external Signage: Harper Signs, Astra Signs
Loose furniture: UHS
Kitchen design and fit: National Facilities Management
Originally published in the September 2018 print edition of Bar magazine.