Loyalists will have noticed that there has been something missing in Viaduct Harbour over the last month, that being Soul Bar & Bistro, which has been closed for necessary kitchen renovations to keep the grand dame at the top of her game. Now, not only are the doors to this iconic stalwart open again (and thank God for that) but a raft of mouthwatering new seasonal dishes and drinks are bolstering the menu we know and love. In short, there has never been a better time to book a table.
On the refreshed menu (coming out of a brand new kitchen, by the way) ample snacks and starters set a delicious tone from the outset, and are perfect for sharing with the table. Dishes like the Crayfish Toast with black garlic and saffron aioli, are best when served alongside the likes of the Yellowfin Tuna with radish kimchi and nashi pear or the Wagyu Beef Tongue, dressed in sweet and sour onion and toum. The pastas here, as everyone knows, are some of the best in town, and there is a raft of new offerings now to sit alongside the classics. The Cloudy Bay Clam Tagliatelle with fennel XO, for instance, is perfect for sharing, but the divine new Crayfish Lasagne drowned in vodka sauce and bisque volute, makes for the kind of winter warmer we are inclined to keep to ourselves.
Elsewhere, there is a selection of seasonal vegetables and salads and a delicious Harissa Chicken joins the crowd-pleasing line-up, served with citrus, red onion pickle and kohlrabi. There is also an utterly delicious Hawke’s Bay Lamb Rack accompanied by salt-baked kumara, garlic and honey, and a marjoram chimichurri.
If there’s still room left, a couple of desserts to share should do. The Pear and Ginger Crostata, with pear sorbet and crystalised ginger is similar in taste and texture to a tart, while the Lemon Crème Brûlée, with orange, guava jam and almond crumble is the perfect way to end any meal on a high note.
Alongside the venue’s incomparable drinks offering comes a number of tempting new libations, including plenty of inspired cocktails and liquid desserts. And while there are many new things to love about Soul’s reopening, the new menu doesn’t mean that the restaurant is turning its back on the fare that has long drawn us to its renowned terrace. Instead, it is balancing old guard with new flavour, offering refreshed culinary inspiration and a renewed zest for life, as it once-again takes its well-deserved place at the humming heart of Viaduct Harbour.