Monday, September 3, 2012

Restaurant Review-"Sobo Cafe"

Located on constantly bustling Cross Street in Federal Hill, Sobo Cafe feels far removed from the the host of bars that line the market area.

Although it's located extremely close to us, we rarely give Sobo a try.  I'm really not quite sure why.  Perhaps it's the proximity that makes it feel like "too safe" a choice.  We like venturing out and exploring new restaurants, so there is some mild guilt involved in choosing Sobo.

Newly Revitalized Sobo Cafe
Because of a fierce thunderstorm and a desire to remain (relatively) dry, Sobo turned into the default choice for our party on Saturday night.  I also wanted to give it another go around after hearing good things about the new ownership and menu.  A woman by the name of Anna Leventis purchased the property back in November of last year and decided Sobo badly needed a facelift.  New paint and inventive menu items really impressed us when we arrived.  Sobo, similar to Metropolitan (you can read my review here), has a very comfortable and cozy vibe.  After our meal on Saturday night, we are sure to go back a lot more.

Inviting Exterior
We settled in to our seats and immediately ordered a Malbec red wine.  The server's selection was absolutely fantastic.  It was probably one of the top ten bottles I've ever had, and the whole table enjoyed it.  I snapped a picture, so I can hopefully track down a case for personal use.
Michel Torino Malbec-Fantastic Choice
The appetizer menu had a few good choices, but we settled on the tomato and mozzarella flatbread with pesto sauce.  It was filling enough for three of us, and the crispy outer crust was a real hit.  The rest of the table ordered Caesar salads which were fresh, though I will spare you the pictures.

Tomato and Mozzarella Flatbread
As I've mentioned before, multiple people ordering the same entree really bothers me (in a playful way).  It severely cuts down on the potential sharing our table can accomplish.  Nevertheless, I ordered the spicy seafood stew, while the rest of the table went with lamb meatloaf, seared mahi, and the house mac-n-cheese.

Sobo Cafe Dinner Menu
The seafood stew was a perfect light meal.  It was served with a large piece of organic grain bread for dipping.  Featuring fresh mussels and large, tasty shrimp, it was served in a light tomato broth.  I wasn't that hungry, so this seemed to be the perfect choice.  It was also raining pretty hard outside, so the spicy stew seemed more than appropriate.

Spicy Seafood Strew
My party really enjoyed the mahi mahi, another fresh piece of fish that is often difficult to come by.  The mac-n-cheese, a staple of Sobo Cafe since its inception, featured the crispy crust that I know you all enjoy along with creamy large penne noodles inside.  Comfort food at it's finest.

Sinful Mac N' Cheese
I will note that no one at our table went with the house pot pie.  One of the few holdovers from the "old regime" at Sobo, it's truly the house speciality.  The first two times I visited Sobo Cafe, I went with the pot pie and was knocked out of the park.  For the sake of delivering some new foods to my readers, our party mixed up the selections.  I have to say that if they make mac-n-cheese like that, the pot pie must be even better.  We will certainly be repeat customers in the very near future.

Sobo Cafe: Quickly Turning Into A Top Federal Hill Dining Choice
Don't overlook Sobo Cafe even though it appears to be hiding on Cross Street.  The new ownership clearly is taking the menu seriously and it shows.  The atmosphere has always been warm and inviting, but the decor is emphasized more than ever now.  This is a perfect spot to bring a date or just have a quiet dinner with loved ones.  A surprising top choice.

Let me know if you guys have any strong feelings about Sobo.  Drop a comment or shoot me an email.  Until tomorrow!

-Charm City Traveler

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