It’s as the saying goes – big things come in small packages – and that certainly reigns true for cafe and tapas bar The Little Soho. Located on Flinders Street, this downsized CBD tapas bar is delivering traditional Spanish small plates with a contemporary twist.
This week we made our way to The Little Soho for a tapeo dinner featuring 5 tapas plates, 3 mains and a dessert course to share between a group of 10+ ravenous media. With a refreshing Maidenii Spritz and jug of Sangria on a arrival, we settled into the cosy space in an instant.
The bar and cafe features ceiling-to-floor windows giving the place a sense of open airy-ness despite it’s size per square metre. Adding to this effect, the colour motif of green brings the venue to life, with bright green plants decorating the tables and sleek turquoise tiling complimenting the bar.
Patlin Garden Kalamata Olives with oregano and extra-virgin olive oil were spread out across our table to start, serving as the ultimate starter snack. We then indulged in Spanish Tortillas, Croquetas, Cogollos (Grilled Cos Lettuce) and Smoked Port Lincoln Sardine for our tapas plates.
The Spanish Tortilla was a unique style of potato and egg wedge on sourdough and topped with aioli. It was mild in flavour yet had quite a pleasant, soft texture.
The Croquetas were a crowd favourite, filled with spiced cauliflower, cress and sour cream on the side. The crunch of the crumbed exterior combined with the creamy-velvet interior made the dish, again, delightfully textural.
The Grilled Cos Lettuce came alongside white anchovy, black garlic, walnut and sherry dressing, so it was similar to biting into a warm salad. While not being something we would normally order, we found the dish light and refreshing to break up the previous, more heavy dishes.
Utilising the local goods sourcing sardines from Port Lincoln, Little Soho also offered a delicious smoked sardine plate which came with grilled peaches, almond ajoblanco and dried black olives. This plate combined the sweet and the salty seamlessly, while also effectively combining softness and crunchiness.
Our mains also came served in a sharing style, typical of Spanish food and also a dining style which we find to be highly on trend in the food scene currently. We got stuck into the first dish – Goolwa Pipis (def’n: a mollusc similar to clams) – which was definitely our favourite of the night. The chef Alfonso who came out to speak to us mentioned how popular Pipis are in Spain and how he was surprised they weren’t a more favourable choice here in Australia considering the access we have to fresh seafood.
In the hopes of bringing Pipis to the limelight, Little Soho created an incredible dish including smoked leek, crispy pancetta and sourdough bread to dip in the mouth-watering broth. Surely this dish will help Australians realise the wonder of Pipis – it definitely enlightened us!
The BBQ K.I Pork came next, served alongside pancetta and legume ragu. This spiced neck dish was heavy and fulfilling, with a light salsa verde to cut through the richness of the ingredients. By this point, we were well and truly stuffed to the brim, despite two more dishes to come!
We undid the top button on our pants to fit in the next course which all of the table had been waiting on eagerly: the Mixed Local Seafood Paella. Everyone loves a traditional Paella and Little Soho executed this dish impeccably, throwing in some Spencer Gulf prawns, Boston Bay mussels, Goolwa pipis and calamari. This particular Paella was a lot more moist than previous ones we’d experienced, which we found to be pleasantly surprising! The difference was that Little Soho’s paella was made-to-order, however previously we’d only eaten from a giant pan of Paella that had been cooking all day at events like festivals and the races, causing the ingredients to dry out a little over time.
Chef Alfonso expressed this dish as a personal favourite, explaining how the dish had quite an emotional connection to him due the memories it sparked of family gatherings from when he was younger. As a renowned sharing family meal, a Paella was the perfect way to end our experience at Little Soho.
Cleansing our palate with a dessert to finish, we were offered the Tarta De Santiago Cake which was a very simple cake of spongy texture, yet still quite dense with a dollop of citrus cream topping. While we wouldn’t normally order such a plain dish as we are massive fans of complexity, this dessert really did tie up the dining experience nicely.