Soul Bar is undeniably an Auckland institution—an infamous outpost for long (and subsequently boozy) lunches, after work cocktails and/or a fine evening overlooking the Viaduct. This is one place synonymous with ‘Jafas’. And, just in time for the upcoming warmer months, they’ve overhauled every aspect of it, from its interior and libation offerings, right down to its menu.
The decor has been completely stripped back and beautifully redesigned. It oozes glamour with dark wooden floors and a grand marble bar with pops of shiny metal. The airy indoor spaces have a natural flow to the sprawling terrace that sits pretty in prime position overlooking the bobbing yachts in the glistening harbour.
The menu has been carefully designed to cater for all. Each dish is beautifully presented and truth be told, tastes as good as it looks. The newly opened oyster bar has the chefs shucking at a rapid rate. They’re served in a myriad of ways, including Rockefeller—grilled spinach and gruyere crumbs, Kilpatrick—natural oysters doused with balsamic and bacon bits. Fried in beer batter served with a blue cheese sauce or in a brioche bun slathered with a spicy harissa sauce which is hands down the best burger we’ve come across in some time.
There’s a salad section for those wanting a light lunch or dinner—adding a skewer of meat or seafood in your meal is a must. And don’t be fooled by the word ‘salad’ in this instance, these hearty creations are substantial and full of flavour.
If pasta is your weakness I would suggest digging into a big bowl of hand rolled garganelli that’s accompanied with a slow cooked oxtail and rosemary ragu. But in saying that, you’d be hard pressed to bypass the black linguine with Cloudy Bay clams, spicy chorizo and semi-dried tomatoes. Maybe get both?
As expected at a waterfront restaurant, there’s plenty of seafood. Tuna sashimi with foie gras parfait and rhubarb is a standout, as is the roasted hapuka with in house smoked trevally brandade and cauliflower two ways. But don’t worry, there’s also plenty for the carnivores - pork belly, steak - you name it.
Make sure you save room for dessert—this is not a drill. Each sweet creation will make your taste buds sing. Our pick has to be their rhubarb creation, the candy pink fruit is poached, made into jellies and flavours mini meringues, the sweetness balanced out with buttermilk panna cotta and decadent white chocolate ice cream.
Soul Bar didn’t necessarily need a makeover, but its new and fresh look is a welcome one. It’s made what was already great greater and we suggest you book a table ASAP, because quite frankly, if you don’t, you’re seriously missing out.
For more details about Soul Bar, including opening hours, click here.
Image credit: Lauren Matilda Matthews