SoBro Cafe: Restaurant Review
The message on the wall outside SoBro Café is almost subliminal: This is your new secret place.
And SoBro is both almost secret and easy to miss as you zip along 52nd Street through College Avenue.
But don’t – because inside this eclectic, 40-seat restaurant is a joyful mix of creative, delicious dishes and drinks. Proprietor Helger Oomkes and head chef Luke Weber emphasize local and sustainable, so be prepared for local bison, beef, lamb and chicken, vegetables and even ice cream.
Weber put out a spread for us to sample that started with bison sliders – accompanied by homemade ketchup, garlic aioli and Australian beer mustard – garden maki rolls, corn fritters made with Mexican sour cream and black bean dip, and hummus with pita bread.
Weber adds honey, salt, pepper, eggs and bread crumbs to the bison, giving it both a deep, hearty flavor and tenderness. It was my favorite part of an excellent meal.
The maki rolls, which will appeal especially to raw-food fans, feature thinly sliced zucchini with a paté of celery, carrot, garlic, onion, spices, lemon zest and almonds inside and a sweet miso ginger dressing on top. It looks like sushi, but tastes sweet and crunchy.
For the main dish, Weber brought out salmon papillote. Inside the parchment paper was a large, wonderfully flavorful, steamed mélange of brown rice, spinach, asparagus, vegetables, white wine and seared salmon topped with crushed garlic, crushed pistachio, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper – easily enough for two people.
That would have been plenty, but save room for dessert. SoBro serves locally made Lick ice cream, which combines flavors you wouldn’t expect – brown butter chamomile and apple cider pepita brittle, to name two – into a refreshing, palate-cleansing treat. Also absolutely worth a try is SoBro’s Dutch pannenkoeken, a crepe filled with Nutella and strawberries and drizzled with chocolate and powdered sugar.
But even if you can’t handle more calories, make sure to try the chai tea. “The lifeblood of this restaurant,” Weber calls it. It’s Oomkes’s creation, and it’s spectacular. Made with soy milk, it brought to mind a sort of spicy, slightly foamy cocoa with a little kick. A superb ending to the meal.