I am catching up with a friend for some Friday drinks and we settle on a venue in Neutral Bay which does fine cocktails, beautiful Southern American / Mexican cuisine (hence the name Socal – Southern California) with a hip vibe and chilled tunes.
I arrive a little early and find a seat and start ordering. The venue has a cool group people unwinding on this Friday afternoon. The waitress who serves us is oh so friendly and I defintely start to feel like I am starting the weekend…
This cocktail has got Pampero Blanco, Coconut Rum, lime, sugar, pineapple, fresh mango and coconut water.
Beautiful crisp rum provides a beautiful bite, while the creamy sweet coconut rum trickles up the straw with a fruity tropical flavours of mango and pineapple to provide a harmonious smooth taste sensation. The lime provides some lovely citrus bite to the drink, while the fresh coconut water is purely refreshing. Its such a beautiful start to the afternoon and yes that umbrella on the cocktail does take me back to my recent trip to Thailand… I can just picture sipping this by a pool on a cabana. (You can check out my review of that trip here).
My friend is held-up, so I decide to start with some food.
Prawn and Crab Puffs with Habanero Mayo
The beautiful creamy balls of flaky textured crab meat are mixed with succulent prawns and are wrapped in a crunchy batter. The texture contrast between the crunchy coating and smooth inside of the puff makes for a beautiful introduction to the dish. The puff filling is smooth, rich and full of that fresh seafood taste, while the accompanying Habanero mayo provides a lovely bite to sign-off the dish.
I continue with a beautiful shiraz and then my friend arrives and we start chatting…
He orders a cocktail to unwind on this lovely Friday….
Its a keeper. This one has blueberry-infused Tanqueray gin, elderflower liqueur, spiced blueberry syrup, rhubarb bitters & basil. I am so envious and my friend rubs it in by confirming how wonderful it its.
Baja fish with chilli slaw & pineapple salsa and the Steak with jicama, tomato & chilli jam Tacos
The fish taco is amazing with soft succulent fish is filled with a mix of fruity pineapple salsa and a spicy chilli slaw. The mix of sweet (from the salsa), spice from the chilli and the fish which is not overly flavoursome on its own but works to absorb the different flavours of the slaw and salsa. The crunch from the slaw provides a lovely contrast to the taco casings which are crisp but softened by the sauce of the filling.
The steak is beautiful with a smoky charcoal coating and succulent on the inside. It combines perfectly with the starchy jicama and beautiful sweet, juicy and spicy tomato and chilli jam. The juices of the steak just mingle effortless with the rest of the taco to provide one amazing tasting experience.
We continue with the cocktail theme. My friend decides to with one of the specials (can’t remember the name of it, but looking at the menu, I think this is the one).
its a cherry cocktail with lemon sherbet, plum bitters and fresh apple juice. I meanwhile opt for the more, charming Salted Caramel Espresso Martini.
Salted Caramel Espresso Martini
I have tried it before, so I’ll copy my review from my last tasting with some minor edits (as it hasn’t changed a bit). It’s difficult to taste the salted caramel but the strength of the espresso shines to give a little kick (a real wake-me-up), while the beautiful chocolate honeycomb crumble provides a lovely sweet finish. The honeycomb dissolves in the cocktail and you can rub the the chocolate pieces over your tongue for a rich creamy cocoa finish to the drink. It’s beautiful.
So we decide to call it a night, we have had such enjoyable time and actually feel like a bit of California has landed in Sydney….