“When someone turns up, I want you to jump in, welcome them, offer them a cocktail or a bottle of wine with a sense of urgency, fun and kindness. Kindness towards anyone who walks in that door and kindness towards each other.”

Luke Turton thinks he has Broadsheet on hold while he delivers a pep talk to his floor staff. When he realises I’ve overheard the whole thing, he laughs and says “now you know what we’re all about”.

When Sofia opened its doors earlier this month, it already had a built-in following courtesy of regulars from co-owners Joshua Baker, Stewart Wesson, John Savva and Turton’s other venues Part Time Lover and Whistle & Flute.

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Sofia is named after Savva’s late mother. Baker tells says that her family lunches were legendary: “No frills and everything on the table… We want our new bistro to have the same sort of feeling as you had when you went to her house.”

Sans-Arc Studio director and architect Matiya Marovich and designer Carlo Jensen were enlisted to bring the warm aesthetic to life with comfy upholstery and cork floors to cut down on noise.

“As a team they have created a really special spot,” Baker says. “It wasn’t [just] a fit-out, we built out the boundary line and there was serious structural work involved.” The result? “A fun, fast-paced bistro” with restaurant vibes. “It’s mad, it’s sophisticated and it’s cool as.”

In the kitchen, executive chef Stewart Wesson is particularly proud of a custom-built oven. “It’s the first one of its kind in SA,” he says. “It’s a dual-fuel oven with three infrared elements at the top and a ceramic pizza-style base on the bottom that conducts heat. You can put whatever fuel you want in there.”

Wesson designed the Sofia menu after a trip to Spain, but is quick to add it’s not Spanish. “It’s Mediterranean,” he says. “The whole coastal area: a bit of Greek, some Cypriot and borderline Croatian cuisine with some Italian and Spanish thrown in as well.”

The menu is split into two sections; a meze-style (“not tapas”) grazing spread with puffy pita as the star, and mains that focus on larger proteins.

The bread is tipped to become an SA version of Sydney’s cult “Totti’s bread” and Wesson describes it as “a hybrid Italian-Greek combo made to our recipe by a group of lovely little old ladies in the Adelaide Hills. It is blast-frozen right at the point of fermentation and gets delivered to us. We let it ferment in our coolroom for a couple of days and then cook it in our oven.”

Pair it with a wide selection of snacky bits including a Sofia sopressa, grilled octopus and a Sicilian sashimi plate.

The mains lean towards “simple proteins that we can chuck in the oven and let it do its work,” Wesson says. “Really nice cuts of steak, eggplant, Spanish-style crispy skin chicken.”

The drinks list is wide reaching, from Five Senses coffee to European-inspired summer spritzes and cocktails including Sofia’s Chai Negroni (a heady mix of aged in-house Negroni infused with chai spices). There are also local and Spanish beers, aperitifs and champagne by the glass, including premium drops like Krug Grande Cuvee served by Coravin and a wine list drawing inspiration from coastal Australian and Mediterranean wine regions.

“The approach to the wine list was sparked by wanting to offer something a little sideways for Adelaide,” Turton says. “SA has beautiful wine regions in our backyard, [but our] idea was just to build upon that with interesting international wines they don’t necessarily get to see and at a decent price point.”

Sofia is open seven days a week for breakfast (brunch on the weekends), lunch and dinner. “If you’re at a loose end at four o’clock on a Saturday or Sunday and want an early dinner, we’ll be open. If it’s 2.30pm and you think you’ve missed service, we’ll be open. We are going in hot and if it doesn’t work, it’s going to be expensive for us but if it works, we can become an institution for people to eat and drink at any time on the weekend.”

Sofia
16 Hutt Street, Adelaide
0400 400 343

Hours:
Mon to Fri 7am–late
Sat & Sun 11am–late

sofiabistro.com.au
@sofia.bistro