Food review: SoPo Dining Room

Australia Fair Metro, Young St., Southport Ph: 07 5528 4422 or Mob: 0423 307 425 

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child

There will always be a place for comfort food. No matter what is the trend of the moment, we still come back to food that’s familiar and loved, however Julia Child makes no reference to the role imagination plays in bringing the classics to life, giving them a modern, lighter twist to pique our curiosity!

That’s exactly what we get from the very talented duo Peter Batley and Julie Rogers, much loved for their innovative fun café food at 42Fifteen, which they opened in 2013.

The couple have made a solid investment in Southport, with SoPo housed in the Australia Fair Metro development a stone’s throw away from 42Fifteen.

“I grew up here and went to TSS as well as Southport High,” Peter tells us. “Julie and I moved back to Southport about six years ago. We decided to set up 42Fifteen in the new Chinatown area as a point of difference,” he says. “Southport has been good to us, so when we decided that it was time to open our second venue it was an easy progression to go with the name SoPo (short for Southport).”

While 42Fifteen is a local favourite for breakfast and lunch, SoPo is open daily for balanced healthy tasty lunches, share plate dinners and great Aussie craft beer and wine, open for breakfast and all-day dining from Friday to Sunday.

SoPo is a classy venue, a ‘dining room’ with autumn colours and clean lines showing off the intriguing modern art of Lynne Batley, Pete’s mum.

Overall, however, the two venues have one thing in common: food bursting with flavour, SoPo turning it up a notch to bring us more innovative modern cuisine.

You could even call SoPo’s dishes ‘posh nosh’, the couple’s play on classics carrying references to modern British fare, often adding an Asian twist. The result is very well made fun food to share, totally accessible to the everyday diner.

The all-day menu’s divisions show SoPo’s light-hearted approach to dining as an episodic adventure: Bites, Smalls, Bigger, Bit on the side, and A great place to finish, with plates ranging in price from $6 – $24. While the dishes hold familiar elements, they’re also intriguing and sophisticated without being confronting; perfect for fine casual dining any night of the week.

Our favourites include SoPo’s ‘prawn toast’, made on sourdough and served with a kaffir lime and coriander-scented prawn mousse and black sesame – a cracker of a dish, their House-made pitas (which are perfect for lunch or to share as entrée), and the luscious Sticky pork neck – 12 hour sous vide cooked, carrying the tang of plum and lemongrass (sometimes served as San Choi Bao in crisp lettuce leaves).

SoPo was one of the first places on the Coast to bring us Ahi poke, (the raw-fish salad that is Hawaii’s equivalent to a hamburger). Made from sashimi grade tuna, it’s dressed in a shallot tamari marinade and served with fried wontons, pickled ginger and sesame mayo.

Following the seasons, Jules’s new winter menu brings us a heartier version of this dish: Poke bowls, on trend for the season, served on a bed of rice with wakame. Beside it will be earthy flavours: Beef cheek, Steak with wild mushroom jus and smoked sea salt, Organic chicken breast with pear and avo salad, and reimagined Asian classics such as Okonomiyaki.

“Great produce speaks for itself,” Julie says. “We couldn’t wait to bring good wholesome food to Southport – food diners are comfortable with, but with a bit more flair.”

It’s a step up for Southport, a suburb that has not seen this food before, let alone made the change to share dining. It’s also a place to indulge in a little Mountain Goat or Moo Brew craft beer and well-chosen Aussie boutique wines, very keenly priced.

Pete is enthusiastic in his support of the suburb. “We love Southport. It is without question the most unpretentious, diverse, and non-judgmental place on the Gold Coast and, as a result of this, we will be opening more venues here in the future.”

With great daily specials incentivizing dining, such as $15 premium aged rump steaks on Mondays, $15 Pita pizza and pot Tuesday, the exceptional value ‘Hump Day Date Night’ 3-course shared dinner for two with a neat bottle of boutique wine for a meagre $60 on Wednesdays, TGI Friyay funky beats, Aperol spritzers and $5 bites from 2pm, and beef burger with the trimmings for $10 on Saturdays, let’s hope that Southport steps up to embrace this delicious food.

NOTE: See SoPo’s website for full details of their specials. There’s free parking under Metro.

Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast



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