Above popular Surry Hills pub Bar Cleveland you’ll find new southern Mediterranean restaurant Sofia. Opened by Bar Cleveland owners Sophie and Con Bousgas, along with chef Justin North (Becasse, Hotel Centennial), Sofia is an homage to the Bourgas’s Greek heritage.
North met Con through a builder friend, who saw the space and knew it could be a beautiful restaurant. The group was careful to stay away from fine dining, instead focusing on creating a “jovial, relaxed” space, serving simple, tasty food off the grill.
“[Sophie and Con] are both from Greece, and they have a beautiful olive grove there where they press all their own olives and make this incredible olive oil … and then ship it back to Australia,” North tells Broadsheet. “[We thought] there’s a really, really good product and good concept there to base the restaurant around.”
North and head chef Nathan Treleaven developed the menu with a focus on chargrilled dishes that can be easily shared or eaten solo.
“We spent a while getting a really awesome grill in there … and we based the menu around that,” says North. “We want people to feel comfortable … we didn’t really want to make it a special-occasion restaurant, we just wanted to make it very accessible for people who lived close by, who could just stroll across the street.”
Highlights include the lamb ribs (slow-cooked in the sous-vide machine for eight hours, then caramelised on the grill); the Murray cod (the cod is taken off the bone, and grilled skin-side down); and the chicken, which is slow-cooked in brine, then cooked on the grill. Of course, the kitchen uses olive oil from the family’s olive groves in Greece.
The drinks menu is a mix of Mediterranean-inspired cocktails and twists on classics (think Negronis and Americanos), and a concise wine list that incorporates drops from Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
During the refurbishment, the building’s heritage rafters were left exposed – now, the space has what North describes as an “amazing breadth of beams and heights and all this beautiful ceiling”.
Pieces of plaster were deliberately left on the walls, which are mostly exposed brick and sandstone, to further the raw, Mediterranean feel. With the addition of an orange leather banquette and cream drapes, the space was complete.
The name is a tribute to Sophie’s grandmother, the woman who first taught her how to cook.
“To work really closely with such a lovely family … that really comes through in everything – in the interiors, the staff, the menus,” says North.
Level 1/433 Cleveland St, Surry Hills
(02) 9698 1908
Wed & Thu 5pm–late Fri to Sun midday–4pm, 5pm–late
03 Nov 2022
03 Nov 2022
02 Nov 2022
02 Nov 2022