I’m a fan of the Big Burrito Group- they’re successful for 2 simple reasons: they have good food, and provide stellar service.
Saturday evening a group of us braved the 32-degree spring weather, and had dinner at Soba in Shadyside.
The décor at Soba was minimal, but tasteful. Small polished stones were placed in front of each place setting, complimenting the wooden—faced menus. Our host was running a few minutes late, so I did some exploring. To the right, just beyond the hostess stand was a single, elongated, VIP table. Above the seating area was a large, organic wall with cascading water- if you’ve ever seen those really cool Zen-like mini pug-in H20 displays at Bed Bath and Beyond, it’s like one of those- on a grand scale.
The bar/lounge area located at the far end of the restaurant was filling up with hip, well-dressed patrons eager to socialize and sip trendy cocktails. The lighting was dim and warm throughout; most of the diners were using the flashlights on their cell-phones to peruse to decipher the menu. Comfortable couches were scattered about making for a fun, informal meeting spot.
As I sat at our table waiting for everyone to arrive, I asked our server what he recommended.
“Black cod for sure,” he said.
Now that I had decided on my entrée, it was time to review the starters.
The Spicy Pork Lettuce Wraps looked good (12), as did the Edamame (9), Jumbo Lump Crab Spring Rolls (13), Rock Shrimp Tempura (12), and Lobster Roll (15). We ended up sampling ALL of these plates, as well as the sweet corn and crab chowder.
The Spring Rolls were impeccably fresh, and the crab sweet and succulent. My favorite appetizer however, was the Rock Shrimp Tempura prepared with spicy aioli, tsumi, ponzu, and chives. Another fantastic dish was the Sweet Corn and Crab Chowder that included curry, and FULL FAT coconut milk.
Between courses we opted for the Soba Chopped salad- a perfect combination of taste and texture with fresh papaya, mango, daikon, creamy avocado, iceberg lettuce, mint, basil, cashews, and coconut tempura- a spicy tempura dressing completed the dish.
With our palates adequately cleansed, we chose our main courses. Miso Black Cod (30) for me please- also ordered: Tandoori Scottish Salmon (27), Seared Rare Tuna with Sesame Crust (30), and Filet Mignon (38).
The fish was served in a medium-sized ceramic bowl, and included barbequed pork, rice cakes, bok choy, ssam jang, and pine nuts. The cod was buttery and rich- the barbecued pork was delicate, yet flavorful. A tangy miso broth puddled at the bottom of the bowl, and was quickly lapped up with my soupspoon.
I had the opportunity to try the Seared Tuna, and Scottish Salmon- both delicious.
“You have to order the Frozen Cashew Terrine,” our host suggested.
I didn’t want to upset him of course, so we ordered two for the table, along with some basil-lemon sorbet, and the Soba Banana Split.
The terrine was amazing- I had never had anything like it. The dessert had the texture of ice cream, but was more dense, and packed with flavor. Also on the plate was chocolate ganache, mango, raspberry coulis, candied pecans, and real whipped cream- I would go back just to eat this.
Soba serves amazing food- couple that with a great atmosphere, and flawless service, and you have a true winner.