Like all new restaurants, the dining room only days before opening was a mess. In the middle of it all was part owner Naomi Growden, running on 4 hours sleep for the fourth consecutive day. The wine had begun arriving in preparation for the grand vision of new Flinders Street east eatery The Little Soho. Ingredients and sauces covered the bench tops, the seating isn’t quite installed yet and the tiling had a bit of a sealing mishap.
But even before opening, this personal and personable pursuit was starting to show its personality. Planter boxes of herbs for use in the kitchen have been established facing the roadside and in the kitchen chef and part owner Alfonso Ales was getting things as his team would like them.
“We’ll open on Sunday or Monday very quietly,” says Naomi, half believing her words. In fact, the guess proved pretty spot on. The Little Soho opened their bi-fold doors onto Flinders St on Tuesday morning for brunch. And at this early stage, it’s brunch only. While the soon to be realised grand scale is the creation of an intimate Spanish wine and food affair in the evening, that’s something that Ales wants some extra time to play with. For the mean time though, the resumption of service is a welcome one for the guests and residents of the above hotel apartments who have been walking just around the corner to The Flinders Street Project for the last month.
“We will be balancing two concepts between breakfast and dinner,” explains Naomi. “In Spain brunch/breakfast isn’t so much a thing so we will be offering a different menu during that day that will focus on lighter, healthier meals and fresh fruit and veg. We’ll do that for a week or so, then we’ll go for the dinner service after we’ve had the time to prepare.”
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When the evening dining eventually does commence, it promises to delve into some uncharted and exciting territory addressing the shared food passions of Spain and Adelaide. At the heart of realising this Spanish menu will be all quality South Australian produce, the best in the world as Ales says, which will be sourced fresh and direct from producers wherever possible. “The only thing that won’t be local is the smoked paprika,” jokes Ales. “The quality of ingredients here is the same as in Spain, so I see no reason to import anything. More producers are also thinking with restaurants in mind than 5 years ago, so we can realise our European roots wholly without dealing with logistics and increased sourcing costs.”
Customers will guide The Little Soho on its culinary journey, with Ales keen to adopt a reciprocal relationship between diners and the kitchen when as the menu evolves. “In France there’s a saying that the noise doesn’t make any good and the good doesn’t make any noise,” he begins. Essentially, it’s a mantra that quality will speak above all else. “We’re going to be progressing, working hard every day to bring the best of Spanish food, which will not be the same as Adelaide knows it now. At the moment it is presented as if a menu can express the whole of Spain. Respectfully, I don’t believe it is possible to show the richness of culture, the 3000 years of history, the regional tastes, the five languages and different traditions on one page. This is not our aim, but it is our aim to distill it all within our kitchen and present perhaps a ‘Best Of’ for our diners.
Seafood will be especially emphasised. ” The pipis are incredible and they’re everywhere,” says an excited Ales. “Spencer Gulf Prawns, 3 Hat Restaurants buy those, and the Kingfish, the Port Lincoln Calamari. It’s an abundance of opportunity to make the most of. These are beautiful ingredients and Spanish food really cherishes those flavours.”
But that won’t be all that’s on offer. Instead, we’ll all have to wait with baited breath for the final reveal in the coming weeks. But for the mean time, it’s best to place The Little Soho on your radar, “to be humble and open to experience,” as Ales says. It feels as if they’re on the precipice of something quite special for the city. But as Naomi says, they’re more focussed on bedding into the Flinders St locale above all else.
“If we see reviews of ‘Neighbourhood Gem’ we’ll be really happy. It’s not about the newest thing, it’s about quality and becoming a part of the community around us. We want diners who come because our food or wine is what they want, and to come back again because we establish a relationship with them.”
The Little Soho is located at 247 Flinders Street. Jump onto their Facebook to see more of their breakfast creations.