SoCal Neutral Bay First Birthday Party

In a week of strange violent storms that blew into Sydney out of the blue, my granny-before-my-time nature had me loathe to leave the warm comforts of my apartment for a party. However, this wasn’t just any party. This was SoCal Sydney‘s first anniversary party, and after the many reviews I had read of its modern American menu, extensive cocktail list, and bright summery courtyard, I knew I had to put in the effort to go! Luckily, the party fell on Tuesday this week, the only day to not feature torrential downpours and high winds – a good omen if ever there was one.

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K and I arrived to find that the celebrations had already kicked off – retro tunes were pumping through the speakers, and more than a few people had some of SoCal’s signature cocktails in hand. The prime seats in the bright courtyard had already all been claimed by other groups, so we staked a table inside where we could people-watch at the bar to our hearts content. We were soon joined by Jessie of Droolworthy World and her friend Charles – one of the first times I’ve met a fellow food blogger, which was very exciting!

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We had conveniently situated ourselves on a table with some corn chip nibblies as we waited for more food to come out. Served with equal parts chilli (salsa) and creamy (avocado), the super crispy crunchy corn chips really hit the spot.

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The first dish we sampled was the spiced eggplant tostadas. Grilled (?) soft eggplant with a real chilli kick topped crispy fried tortilla chips in a more-ish bite-sized snack. Eggplant is one of my favourite vegetables, and I could easily have eaten five of these…or heck, even just a bowl of the eggplant topping by itself!

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Quesadillas are a big part of SoCal’s regular menu, and these Sriracha Chicken Quesadillas combined my favourite South-East Asian chilli sauce (it goes on everything in my house!) with tender chicken in a perfectly fried quesadilla.

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The different quesadillas that came out of the kitchen during the party were a real hit with all the guests!

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The Chicken and Sopressada Sliders were just amazing – how can you beat chicken and chorizo as a combination? The tender grilled chicken and spicy salty sopressada were just set off to perfection with a soft sweet brioche bun. I demolished my slider in two bites!

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The Flank Steak with Chimichurri skewers were juicy with just a hint of barbecued smokiness. This dish actually became K’s despair, as he ended up spilling half the chimichurri all over his shorts in his eagerness to grab a skewer. I was much more careful, and got to enjoy more of the fresh herby chimichurri.

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Personally, I would say my favourite dish of the night was the Spiced Vegetable Cous Cous. Using pearl cous cous instead of the usual smaller grains meant that the dish as a whole felt a lot more substantial. The subtle spices of the vegetable-based sauce, the wilted spinach throughout, and the drizzle of yoghurt on top all combined to make a very simple dish with a very big impact.

I also liked the coleslaw in the Southern Fried Chicken And Slaw – too often I find that a lot of commercial coleslaw include too much raw onions or shallots in their slaw mix, which leaves me with a nasty aftertaste and mouthfeel. The crunchy veggie mix in this slaw was just perfect.

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K and I had a great time at SoCal, and I was very glad that I gave up my granny ways for one night to go out and enjoy myself at their first birthday party! I love the atmosphere and the casual sharing-friendly menu, and I know of a number of friends who would enjoy sampling their way through SoCal’s cocktail menu. I can see us coming back in a few weeks when we’re on Christmas annual leave, spending a lazy afternoon drinking, eating, and catching up with friends in SoCal’s cozy courtyard!

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Gourmanda was invited to this event as a guest of Pendulum Communications. All photos and words are her own.

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