Winterlicious ’08 – Sopra Lounge

Winterlicious '08 - Sopra Lounge
www.sopra.ca

My Winterlicious Disney fairy tale comes crashing down like a Wes Craven horror flick, and I have a kink in my neck to prove it. I guess sometimes you don’t realize how good you’ve had it (food/service/ambience), until you have a disappointing dining experience. Sopra had all the ingredients for a memorable dinner, but it stumbled through the night like sloppy drunk.


Sopra is a beautiful supper resto-lounge. It’s the livelier, hippier counterpart to a quiet Mistura downstairs. If you want a quiet, romantic dinner, try Mistura. If you want a sexier version of Alleycatz (sans dance floor), Sopra it is. Live music on at least 3 nights a week, generally a young crowd, and sexy surroundings. As soon as I step in, I am distracted by the sharp placement of wood and dim lighting. The host quickly grabs my coat, and I slowly head upstairs passing the extensive wine cellar and into the small dining room. But it’s very loud, it’s boisterous, it’s anything but romantic.

The dining room is divided into 4 sections. There are booths at one end of the room, ready to accommodate small groups; probably the most comfortable seating in the venue. Next are a group of small round dining tables with normal sized chairs. Then, a group of round tables, with shorter sofa chairs. The table is almost chest level when you are relaxed. Behind, it’s bar life at the stools.

I can’t spot my date. Oh there she is, behind the massive fat pillar right next to the oversized white pillar, at the foot of the bar, near the stairs. I sit down in the worst possible seat in the house.

I can’t help that the next hour brings out the critic within me. Sopra is a gorgeous place yes, but the service is almost awful from the get go. We arrive at 6:45, we’re left unattended for a almost 20 minutes. I spot a few conversations between waitresses as to who will serve us. The couple next to us are midway through their dinner and they make a few comments about the dirty mouthed corporate entourage behind us at the bar. The same entourage that keeps bumping my chair every few minutes. Ah, gotta love the corporate drunk posse. They swig whiskey, they laugh, they heckle, they catcall my date.

About 45 minutes of it, can get very annoying. But we try to ignore it, well we try to, our waitress doesn’t show up for about 20 minutes. We were at the table for almost a half hour when we order the drinks. A simple juice concotion with lychee and guava and a glass of water. 10 minutes later, we order our meals.

Cuisine is internationally inspired. The appetizers arrive, but I can’t seem to find a spoon for my soup. I wait, I look around, and 5 minutes another waitress spots my frustration and brings it to me. We asked that waitress if there were any mushrooms in the risotto. She thinks for a few seconds and then says she’ll be back. Minutes passed, and we decided to give up on the inquisition since she never came back to our table.

Zuppa Di Castagne; A wealthy bowl of soup arrives. Hearty pureed chestnut, a thick reduction that tastes immaculate with soft bits of chestnut at the bottom. I’m surprised at the size of the dish, and enjoy to the very last spoonful.

Risotto Con Radicchio E Noci; Beyond having one spoonful of this wonderful risotto, I can’t say much about the slow cooked concoction since I never found out if it had any mushrooms or not (The menu didn’t indicate mushrooms, but I wanted to make sure). My companion loved and raved about it.

The table is cleared by the bus boy, and then begins the almost 25 minute wait for dinner. It’s not as busy anymore, tables are clearing out and thankfully the corporate whiskey crew has a private table in the corner where their antics can only annoy each other.

Brasato Al Barolo Con Polenta; A few large slices of braised beef in an aromatic Barolo sauce, resting over a heap of soft polenta. I was only able to take two bits of this dish before it drained any remaining moisture in my mouth. My companion agreed. Too much salt, I could barely taste anything. Even the polenta was ruined by the salt.

Filetto Di Salmone Al Finocchio E Olive Con Insalata Di Arancia; Salmon with black olives and fennel, and an orange salad. The Salmon is too dry and almost tasteless. The orange salad compliments the salmon very well.

Our waitress was no where to be seen, I wanted to tell her about the salty beef. Instead a bus boy arrives to take our plates. He doesn’t even notice that mine is barely touched, so I tell him about the overpowering taste. He barely responded, and then walked away.

Tortino Di Miele E Pinoli Con Salsa Alla Vaniglia; A pine nut tart with honey and some drips of creme anglaise on the side. The pine nut tart is fantastic.

Tortina Di Choccolata Con Salsa Al Caffe; A flourless chocolate cake that resembles the texture of a brownie, very rich and delicious. Small serving.

Winterlicious Food; Starters were great, we’re trying to erase the mains from our memory, desserts were great. The Flourless chocolate is a very small portion (Remember, this is a $35 winterlicious dinner), and the pine nut tart was spectacular.

Winterlicious Service; Incongruous, too many servers and not enough communication. I never did find out whether that Risotto had any mushrooms. The girl seemed to have forgotten all about it, even though she spoke to us twice after. Cutlery arrived approximately 5 minutes after the food was served. I wasn’t even asked why I barely touched my main. Apologies always seemed to follow way after the fact.

Winterlicious Factor; I really wanted to like Sopra, I really did. But not a chance based on my experience last night. The service was severely lacking and often forgetful, the main tasted beyond horrible. When I complained, all I received in the form of an answer was “Okay, I’ll tell the chef”. Nothing else. Based on that, anyone would be turned off from going back to Sopra. I’d still give it another chance. I’m sure there are plenty of positives. With Sopra, you really need to be sitting in the right area, or else your night could be potentially annoying. I think I have a slight kink in my neck from all the twisting and turning.

 

Winterlicious Menu $35 Dinner

Zuppa Di Castagne; Pureed Chestnut SoupInsalata Cotta; Winter Greens and Seasonal Vegetable Salad with Warm VinaigretteRisotto Con Radicchio E Noci; Risotto with Radicchio, Toasted Walnut and VincottoFunghi Trifolati Con Crostino Di Ricotta Alle Erbette; Sauteed Mushrooms and Herbed Ricotta CrostinoBrasato Al Barolo Con Polenta; Barolo Braised Beef Brisket with Soft PolentaInzimino Di Gamberetti Con Crostino Allaglio; Sauteed Shrimps in a Garlic and Tomato Sauce with Garlic BreadFiletto Di Salmone Al Finocchio E Olive Con Insalata Di Arancia; Salmon Filet with Fennel, Black Olives and Orange SaladGalletto Speziato Al Mattone Con Patate Al Rosmarino; Spiced Stone Roasted Chicken with Rosemary PotatoTorta Di Amarene E Mandorle Con Salsa All’amaretto; Sour Cherry and Almond Cake with Amaretto SauceMacedonia Di Frutta Stagionale Con Sorbetto; Seasonal Fresh Fruit Salad with SorbetTortino Di Miele E Pinoli Con Salsa Alla Vaniglia; Pine Nut and Honey Tart with Vanilla Creme Anglaise
Tortina Di Choccolata Con Salsa Al Caffe; Flourless Chocolate Cake with Espresso Sauce

Written by Suresh Doss

Suresh Doss

Suresh Doss is the publisher of SpotlightToronto.com and Rickshawmag. Founder of the Food Truck Eats festival, Suresh has been a pioneer for the Street food movement in Toronto. In 2011, He was awarded the VQA Promoter’s Award for outstanding achievement in the Media category in the promotion of Ontario VQA Wines. Suresh is also the Global Editor for Whitecap’s StreetEats series of travel guides, which focuses on the best street food across North America. Suresh also runs the newly launched Zagat Toronto site.

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