Monday, 24 August 2015

Restaurant Review: Söder + Ko, South Great George's Street, Dublin 2

I absolutely love brunch as a meal and readily admit that I am thrilled that more and more restaurants are now offering it. Despite the fact that I never need to have an excuse to eat it I fully acknowledge that many brunch menus are formulaic and inevitably seem to include Eggs Benedict, Huevos Rancheros, something with avocado and of course the ‘Full Irish’. Whilst these are all dishes that I love and I appreciate that there is something reassuring and almost comforting about eating familiar dishes executed well, there are times when I like to experiment and try something a little different.
Stockholm 866
There is definitely something different about the brunch available in Söder + Ko which has been open since the beginning of May 2015. Housed in an impressive building which was previously home to the Dragon Bar, Söder +Ko is located on South Great George’s Street -  a street that seems to be shaking off its air of downtrodden shabbiness and, as evidenced by the amount of top-notch dining venues to be found there,  is rapidly becoming the centre of Dublin’s culinary scene!
I was recently invited to Bloggers Brunch launch in Söder + Ko where I and the other invited bloggers were treated to samples from the menu which were served to us in platter form. I was really impressed by the food that I ate that day and was keen to visit again. I was pleased to have the opportunity a couple of weeks later.
Pot Stickers
Söder + Ko styles itself as a Scandi-Asian restaurant/bar and whilst the food is quite obviously Asian inspired, it would be fair to say that the Scandinavian influences are more evident in many of the drinks and cocktails that are offered. I have adopted what I consider to be a very sensible rule regarding brunch; namely that cocktails are mandatory (ahem) so I ordered a Stockholm 866 which is a Nordic Negroni of sorts. Containing Aquavit, a caraway flavoured liqueur, Campari, grapefruit juice and garnished with fresh dill this was a refreshing drink. The Söder Sura which my dining companion Erica ordered was similarly invigorating and the two of us happily sipped away at our drinks as we examined the menu in greater detail and considered what to order.
As often happens when I am presented with a new or interesting menu, I found it hard to choose just one dish to order but luckily many of the brunch dishes in Söder + Ko are specifically designed for sharing so we decided to order a couple of these between us to sample together. Although we were tempted by the Steamed Pork & Shrimp in Wonton Pastry and the Squid Tempura and also toyed with the idea of ordering the Hot & Sour Chicken Wings Sharing Platter, we finally decided to go for the Pot Stickers and the King Prawn Dumplings.
Steamed Brunch Bun
I absolutely loved the Pot Stickers which due to having been pan-fried possessed a slightly crispy exterior which screamed ‘eat me’. The filling of chicken and scallions was surprisingly light and although there were six of them, I will admit that I felt slightly resentful that Erica assumed that we would divide the portion equally. I could have eaten them all by myself! They were served with a simple but incredibly delicious umami-rich dipping sauce.
The steamed King Prawn Dumplings were served in a bamboo steamer and were also delicious. Beautifully plump and generously packed with prawns they were hard to resist and we gobbled them up quickly.
Chinese BBQ Spare Ribs
Erica was feeling rather peckish so decided to order one of the Steamed Brunch Buns choosing one that contained a Hash Brown, Fried Egg & Sausage and arrived smothered in a piquant Hollandaise Sauce. A drizzle of a fiery, almost neon green-coloured dressing completed this dish which Erica tucked into with great enthusiasm. I had eaten this at the Bloggers Brunch and had enjoyed it tremendously so could completely relate to Erica’s purrs of satisfaction. I loved this dish and thought it was an interesting variation on the breakfast roll theme.
Our next dish the Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs was absolutely wonderful with meat that melted in the mouth and fell off the bone. Erica declared them to be amongst the best ribs that she had ever eaten and with the wonderfully rich but extremely well-balanced sauce they were cooked in, I have to say that I’m inclined to agree with her. This was a hearty dish but we still managed to finish it.
French Toast
With my slightly sweet tooth it was inevitable that I would have to try the French Toast + Smoked Bacon + Maple Syrup which was very good. This was a classic interpretation of the dish which suited me fine as I truly believe that there are certain dishes that shouldn’t be tinkered with! The slight saltiness of the lightly smoked bacon was wonderful against the fried eggy bread and the rich and unctuous sweetness of the maple syrup – it really is amazing how a dish which has its origins in frugality and was designed as a way to use up stale bread can taste so unbelievably good and in Söder + Ko it was delicious.
Under Culinary Director Kwanghi Chan the Söder + Ko brunch brings something different to the Dublin dining scene and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Kwanghi previously worked under Martijn Kajuiter in the Michelin-starred Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, County Waterford and before that in The Wineport Lodge, L’Ecrivain and Chapter One so has formidable cooking credentials.
There is something very cool and contemporary about the bar and restaurant in Söder + Ko with its faux baroque décor.  As you enter the building you walk into a space which has a double height ceiling and feels vast. As you continue on through the restaurant and bar you pass by the open kitchen where the chefs are busily working away. There is more seating upstairs on a mezzanine balcony and a very trendy outside smoking area. This is a beautiful building which doesn’t distract from the food but rather complements it and adds to the whole experience of dining there.
Some of the dishes on the brunch menu may seem a little on the expensive side, but not particularly out of kilter with prices in other brunch establishments around Dublin. Portions are generous and I really enjoyed my meal.
Brunch is served 12pm -4pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Söder + Ko
64 South Great George’s Street
Dublin 2
Telephone: 01-4781590