Dining Out: Easy, fast and good

The salad bar alone has dozens of options at Soho Café & Grill, open in Bay Ridge since November 28.

The eatery, which does a large take-out and delivery business, plus provides seating for patrons in its airy and bright Fifth Avenue locale, offers a wide range of meal choices, beginning with breakfast, with an eight-page menu that touches pretty much all the bases, with almost everything (except baked desserts) prepared in house.

Soho’s goal is to prepare food that’s healthful and flavorful, so that patrons can feel good – not guilty — about what they are eating, while still enjoying it.

“We want people to know us, to come in and check out the food,” noted Manager Jose Torivio, who said that so far feedback has been excellent. “A lot of people call us to say the food is delicious, and that they need this in the area,” he reported.

But, they also want to know if something does not meet a customer’s expectation. “If it’s bad, we have to fix it. If it’s good, we have to continue it,” Torivio stressed.

All the food I tasted was delectable, but I was pretty much blown away by the extensive salad bar – which was not only varied but immaculately clean.

The Create Your Own Salad ($7.49, small; $8.99, large, with some items costing additional money) begins with your choice of base greens, then a choice of meat, cheese, six vegetables and dressing.

I opted for mesclun topped with Cajun chicken, fresh mozzarella, artichokes ($1 additional), black olives, red peppers, grilled asparagus ($1 additional), hearts of palm ($1 additional), grilled zucchini and creamy ranch dressing, and watched as all the ingredients were tossed together. Everything was incredibly fresh and flavorful; the portion (I had the small salad) was also substantial.

I also enjoyed the Chicken Quesadilla ($7.49), a large wheat tortilla stuffed with chunks of chicken, tomato sauce, onions and peppers and served as three copious wedges atop a bed of yellow rice, accompanied by cups of fresh guacamole, sour cream and salsa that packed a nice but not extreme bite.

Also terrific was the Porto Fino sandwich ($7.99), one of a selection of seven vegetarian sandwiches the eatery features. Freshly grilled inside focaccia that was crispy outside, tender within, the sandwich features melted mozzarella oozing over a variety of veggies, including roasted peppers, caramelized onions and sautéed spinach, spiked with basil-inflected pesto.

Soho Café & Grill offers a changing menu of soups (eight each day) in two sizes (12 ounces, $3.49; 16 ounces, $4.49). I tried the Butternut Squash Soup and was impressed by its creamy texture and its bright, clear flavor which allowed the taste of the squash to sing through.

For dessert, I nibbled at the Sweet Sam’s brownie ($2.95) which was dense, sweet and delicious.

I also indulged in the Quinoa Sunrise Parfait made of Greek yogurt topped with a crunchy, sweet topping made with quinoa and fresh strawberries and kiwi fruit (small, $3.49; large, $4.49). I loved the contrast between the tart yogurt and the sweet streusel on top; that the yogurt is low fat is the icing on the cake.

This is the second Soho Café & Grill in Brooklyn. The first, on Church Avenue in Kensington, has been open about five years and is “packed all the time,” said Torivio.

8312 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Phone: 718-745-0050
Fax: 718-745-0051
6 a.m.-8 p.m. daily
Free delivery within a two-mile radius

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