Eat Here: Sohaila, ShoreditchBy Jake Hawkes
Nestled into an unassuming part of Shoreditch High Street, Sohaila is a Lebanese-inspired restaurant which serves delicious small plates, expertly paired with wines from across the world (including a handful of natural Lebanese options which are well worth trying).
Sohaila also serves as an arm of Fat Macy’s, a social enterprise which supports people in their move on from temporary accommodation, hostels and homelessness. This charitable angle is worthy of praise, but to focus too much on it would be to overshadow the restaurant itself, or give it qualifiers it doesn’t need.
Simply put, Sohalia’s food is incredible. This shouldn’t be a surprise when the menu is curated by Doug Rolle (formerly of London food-darling Brawn), but it’s hard to overstate the care that goes into every dish on the small but perfectly formed menu. Focussed on in-season foods and local ingredients, the offering is changed daily – with some standards like taramasalata, hummus, and Padron peppers holding firm across each iteration.
Speaking of the taramasalata – it’s a must-have. Creamy, smooth, and just fishy enough without being overpowering. Paired with the fresh crunch of baby radishes for dipping, it’s a perfect example of how to elevate a dip into something worthy of celebration. Vine leaves stuffed with chard, pine nuts, and raisins are equally well-balanced. Hot, but not so hot they can’t be picked up with your bare hands and dunked into yoghurt before eating whole, they’re the kind of finger food you’ll be thinking about for days afterwards.
Cornish sardines served with Zhoug, a spicy coriander sauce, continue the theme of perfectly suited flavours which complement each other without overwhelming. The sardines are served split open and skin on, slightly crispy with a perfectly oily middle. With the right amount of zhoug, they provide a mix of textures which is set off just right by a spicy coriander kick.
At the more substantial end of the menu is the braised squid, served with tomato and giant couscous. The tomatoes form a broth which makes the dish feel hearty, but the simplicity of the ingredients and the delicate flavour of the squid means that it never feels heavy – it’s a perfect summer alternative to a more substantial stew.
The roasted poussin is a new addition to the menu. Served on a crispy pitta bread with peppers, lentils and a herb salad, the flavours are as impeccable as every other dish. The poussin itself is perfectly cooked and seasoned, but is a little on the small side and isn’t as meaty as expected, especially with it being one of the pricier items on the menu.
For dessert, the choice is between a silky smooth and incredibly rich lemon cream with strawberries or an almond turmeric cake served with whipped yoghurt and apricot. Both stop just the right side of decadence, the metaphorical cherry on top of an incredibly well-balanced meal which is expertly curated from start to finish.
Sohalia is a rare gem in a sea of gimmicky Shoreditch restaurants, even if rated on food alone. When you pan out from what’s on offer and look at the social mission behind everything they do, it’s even more impressive. Go for the taramasalata and excellent Lebanese wine, leave knowing you’ve helped Fat Macy’s continue to make the world a better place.
232 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6PJ
For further information, see here.