Sofra in Covent Garden is one of five restaurants scattered around central London, from Mayfair in the West to St John’s Wood in the North, via Langham Place and Oxford Circus. We visited on a Wednesday evening and booked in advance, and although it looked very full downstairs there was still plenty of space available on the upstairs floor. Tables are also available in the upstairs roof garden for those who prefer eating outside.
As a group of five, we were automatically given the ‘Party Menu’ offering three courses for £20.95. The food sounded good, but we would have been obliged to order all three courses and therefore requested their standard menu. This contained a much wider choice, available either as set two or three course menus, single dishes or meze-style selections.
Bread with olives and hummus is brought automatically to your table, and starters include soups or small dishes like deep fried mussels served with bread and walnut sauce (£4.45), aubergine and charleston peppers (£4.95), Malaysian prawns (£6.99) or duck salad (£11.95). The main courses are a range of Middle Eastern specialities such as meat or vegetable moussaka (£10.95 and £9.95 respectively), spicy sautéed monkfish (£15.95) and duck tagine (11.95). There are also a number of dishes aimed to appeal to those feeling less adventurous including traditional fish and chips for £11.95, lamb cutlets with potato wedges and vegetables (£13.95) or feta cheese salad (£7.95).
We chose a combination of three meat-based main courses and two veggie versions of the ‘Healthy Menu’ costing £12.95 per head before 6pm or £14.95 from six until midnight. This offers 12 dishes – either vegetarian or meat and fish-based – offering diners the chance to sample a wide range of small taster dishes such as spinach and feta pastry parcels, rice with steamed vegetables, baby broad beans in yoghurt, spicy fish soup, lamb meat balls, falafel and tabbouleh.
Sofra offers various Turkish bottled beers and a selection of red or white wines and champagne. House wines are Turkish – Cankaya white or a spicy red for a very reasonable £3.95 per glass or £13.95 per bottle, but the wine list offers other choices reaching a French Mersault Villages white burgundy at £43.95 or Lebanese Chateau Musar (red) for £47.95. We went for two bottles of the red French Sauvignon at £17.95 plus the bottled still and sparking water provided at the table.
Food arrived quickly, and lived up to expectations. The Healthy Menu’s meze-style dishes provided the best value for money as well as providing good variety. The staff were attentive and friendly, and the restaurant filled up over the course of the evening. Our meals came to £142.50 between five people or £28.50 each. So thoroughly good value for money and a good atmosphere – Sofra is a chain I would definitely visit again.