10 October 2012
The latest restaurant to open on Golborne Road is La Sophia at number 46. Run by husband and wife team Muayad and Sousan Ali, who live locally, it’s offering sophisticated French dining with strong Mediterranean influences at affordable prices.
Ali, as everyone calls him, has a pedigree as a chef going back 20 years and including spells at Boxwood in Knightsbridge, one of Gordon Ramsay’s enterprises, and he's worked around the world in Tel Aviv, Switzerland, France and Amsterdam. He also ran has own restaurant in Toronto.
“I was brought up in Palestine,” says Ali, “and in the countryside there we have 300 different types of herbs growing wild which feature heavily in the local cuisine - that’s been a major contribution to my cooking philosophy. Our menu here is basically French with influences from my own Mediterranean and Palestinian heritage, and we take pride in using very fresh, seasonal ingredients.”
Sousan is equally involved in the operation, managing the back of house. She was born and brought up in Australia though she shares Ali’s Palestinian heritage. The couple have two children, 22-month-old Nourdeen and his sister Sophia who’s just three months.
“We called the restaurant after Sophia,” says Sousan, “so now we have two new arrivals in our life - a baby and a new business!”
The menu at La Sophia changes every two to three weeks but you can expect to have choices like Roast Baby Aubergine with Walnut And Chilli Oil, Goat Cheese Soufflé and Mango and Apricot Chutney, and Poached Wild Halibut with Clams and Spring Vegetables.
“Our first month here has been great," says Ali. “I like to come out of the kitchen and talk to the customers and they’ve been telling me that the food and atmosphere has exceeded their expectations. We’re already getting repeat bookings and word of mouth has been very strong.
“It’s hard work for both Sousan and I,” adds Ali. “I don’t believe in taking shortcuts – we don’t even have a microwave in our kitchen - but that does mean I work 16-hour days.
“I’ve worked in Michelin starred restaurants before and my dream is to get a Michelin star for La Sophia.” That will definitely be a first for Golborne Road.
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