Food & Drink: Reviews
SoCo Delivers Fresh Southern Fusion Cuisine
(Photo: Crawfish Dumplings, Joann Jovinelly)
Visitors to SoCo, an elegant Southern fusion restaurant that opened mid July in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood, have in store for them an inviting and casual atmosphere; the perfect ambiance in which to experience its complementary tastes of authentic, down-home Louisiana-style cooking with hints of warm, savory Creole and Cajun flavors. SoCo’s mood is decidedly upbeat, and its small wooden tables, lit by candlelight, offer intimate settings for informal get-togethers, small parties, and romantic encounters. The restaurant’s rear deck, though small, is lined with fresh flowers and is lovely for enjoying a cocktail or two prior to your meal.
(Photo: Buttermilk Fried Chicken atop Red Velvet Waffle)
SoCo’s menu is inspired by the varied interests and world travels of its chef, Kingsley John, a West Indies native who has prepared meals in fine restaurants in Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and as far away as Lyon, France. And though you’ll find plenty of Southern favorites on the menu, such as Buttermilk Fried Chicken (this time presented on a red velvet waffle with a warming, Bourbon-infused syrup), succulent and tasty Baby Back Ribs, Chicken Wings tossed in homemade pepper jelly and served with Tzatziki dip, Chef John shines best when preparing his rich and flavorful stews and gumbos.
(Photo: BBQ Shrimp Gumbo)
We were most impressed by SoCo’s gorgeous Crawfish Dumplings (pictured above) laden in a hearty cream-based broth loaded with seasonal vegetables, shrimp, and rich and meaty crawfish, sitting atop delicate bundles of Collard greens. It’s not only dramatic, but the tastes meld together in a fantastic symphony of flavors that includes subtle and unexpected hints of ginger for heat. The Barbecue Shrimp Gumbo appetizer, thickened with okra and surrounding a bed of Jasmine rice, was also exceptional. Chef John’s Blackened Salmon was also well-seasoned and cooked to perfection. Served seared and still steaming, the fish was tender, fresh, and lightly flaky. Most dishes at SoCo are moderately priced. Appetizers range from $6 to $11 and entrees are slightly higher at $14 to $22. Side dishes, such as Smoked Corn on the Cob and Collard Greens, fill out the limited menu and are priced between $4 and $7 each. The friendly staff is happy to offer menu suggestions and we were more than pleased with their excellent and professional service.
(Photo: Cucumber Cooler and Red Lemonade)
SoCo is also a wonderful place for cocktails. The bar menu is extensive and includes a variety of French, Italian, and Spanish wines by the bottle or glass as well as a vast selection of domestic and imported beers. Even so, don’t miss your opportunity to try an amazing fruit cocktail by master mixologist George Duvall. The intense freshness of his incredible concoctions has us hooked. Our favorites include Watermelon Lemonade, Cantaloupe Margarita, and the Peachtini, but Duvall’s Caramel Martini topped by a toasted, sugar-covered marshmallow is a show-stopping liquid dessert that tastes like heaven. All cocktails with alcohol are priced at around $10, but Duvall is happy to make virgin versions for a mere $6 that will top anything your favorite juice bar can churn out.
Even if you’re not in the Clinton Hill area, SoCo is definitely worth the trip!
(Photo: Chef Kingsley John)
(Photo: Baby Back Ribs)
(Photo: Blackened Salmon)
(Photo: Mixologist George Duvall)
(Photo: Cantaloupe Margarita, Watermelon Lemonade, Red Lemonade, Caramel Martini)