Does Adelaide really know anything about tapas? The natural response is “of course we do, it’s when you share a lot of small, Spanish plates of food for dinner and it costs you a fortune.” Well, there are some fundamental flaws in that summation that new Flinders St establishment The Little Soho will look to address in approximately 3 weeks time when their doors open.
With the Clarion Soho Hotel on Flinders Street perched about this space, as well as an already established neighbourhood of apartment living (you know, that other really buzz thing that’s not vibrancy which Adelaide is trying to accelerate currently), this is not you usual hole in the wall opportunity, with joint owners Naomi Growden and head chef Alfonso Ales never in the market for such a space.
“It was called called Decant, when we took over the space,” Naomi begins, “and while every fixture and fitting inside has had an incredible amount of money spent the place itself just didn’t feel warm or aligned with what people want from Adelaide dining right now.”
“I’d been speaking with Alfonso (Jonahs, Bilsons in Sydney) and it’s perfect for what we want to do. He’s a classically trained fine dining chef but wants to go back to his roots to hand made Spanish tapas in a more personal setting.”
Apart from tapas being one of the enduring food trends to reach Australia, Ales feels that there’s something missing in how locals have approached the style. “In Spain, it’s not always about sharing,” explains Naomi. “Alfonso has imagined serves that are individual, larger than pintxos, and a menu that focuses on homely, earthy traditional flavours.” This seems the antithesis of his training, but undoubtedly some flourishes are guaranteed with Ales’ technical know how. This interpretation looks to be a perfect fit if you’re looking for three or four dishes to satisfy without the size of the bill getting away from you either.
Tapas and wine will only be one element of the dining space however, with 7-day brunch to be established as the staple, focussed upon a daytime menu with a global, healthy and nourishing feel. The pair admits that three weeks to transform the space isn’t long, but that’s been a deliberate decision to ensure that the inconvenience to hotel guests is kept at a minimum. 8 weeks of planning, in place prior to the current closure, has mapped out the way ahead, to include a combination of high and low seating off set by a warm, intimate dining space. The room will have a light and bright feel, plenty of plants for outside and inside, and a natural flow through to the on street dining area.
This space will also be something of an antithesis to Naomi’s previous laneway venture, Thirftshop, which was flush with on-trend hipsterisms and eccentricity. She wants to avoid kitsch and instead focus on atmosphere, comfort and clean lines that will match the contemporary vibe of the hotel above.
With a license until midnight, loads of on street parking and a cracking wine list of Spanish blends and locally grown varietals, you’ll be able to drop in at any time of day. And like all good establishments, while quality food and drink is a feature, the true focus will be in the hospitality. We look forward to following The Little Soho as the space takes shape.
The Little Soho will be located at 247 Flinders Street. To follow their progress, jump onto their Facebook.