Amidst the rise of new online food ventures, and undoubtedly one of the most impressive ones, is Sofra – a new name in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Nothing could have flambéd the online food business better than the limitations on eating out. Amidst all the economic beating businesses have taken thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, one silver lining is the rise of online food services, deliveries and takeaways included. While our favourite haunts have all pushed their menus online, we’ve also seen the rise of new enterprises, devised with the intention of elevating the dining experience at home.
One of these new ventures, and undoubtedly one of the most impressive ones, is Sofra - a new name in Middle Eastern cuisine. What’s different is the way it is delivered, spread out in exotic brass platters with brass and copper serving dishes adding to the experience. Fortunately, it’s not all optics.
Recommended by a friend, Sofra came as a pleasant and unexpected surprise; unexpected because one usually doesn’t have high expectations from new and unknown restaurants. We ordered the Sofra Salted Mutton Platter, a central serving of succulent meat, slow-roasted with gentle spices, surrounded by seasoned wedges. The gigantic brass platter came with an assortment of meal-boosters, one would like to call them. There was a generous bowl of buttery rice infused with roasted nuts, a smaller bowl of crispy fried bhindi and a very fresh Fattoush salad dressed in a fresh lemon, olive oil and salt dressing. A serving of toasted pita crisps came with the salad and provided an excellent crunch element; one only felt the need for more greens in the salad as it was a bit too heavy on tomatoes and carrots.
The platter came with two yoghurt sidelines: a tasty Borani and Labneh spiced with fried green chilis. One felt that two yoghurt sidelines were a bit excessive though and the Fried Chili Labneh should have been a curry that may have worked better with the Afghani Naan. There was room for improvement on the Naan too; it looked perfect but was more stretchy than soft. Luckily, it didn’t take away from the experience because the mutton and rice with the sidelines was enough to fill one up.
The success of any new place can be judged by a reorder and one is all too eager to try the Mutton Pilaf Platter or the Sofra Crown Roast Pilaf Platter. Easily feeding six people, the whole experience cost around 7000 and was great value for money.
Technically, Sofra translates to a dining spread in the Turkish language but in this case it celebrates the idea of a shared dining experience through all cuisines that are prevalent in the Muslim world. The brass platter goes straight to your table and becomes part of that dining experience. And while you don’t get to keep the platter (it’s picked up by the Sofra staff), there’s a higher purpose behind it.
Behind the business of food is support for local artisans of the copper and brass industry. There’s a celebration of local craft, as Sofra’s exotic platters are especially designed in-house by Sofra design team and then manufactured locally. “We aim to expand into premium catering, where Sofra orchestrates a dining experience for a larger audience and to further loop in local artisans to craft and curate our approach. We also hope to make the local artisan as an important part of the Sofra story,” they say.