The goods: A Biscayne Blvd institution gets a makeover this month as ten-year-old Soyka celebrates the culmination of its first decade with a revamped menu. New head chef Paul Suriel (Joe Allen, Orso) is leading the charge with head pastry chef William Newcomb (Joe Allen). The pair have tweaked the menu quite a bit, bringing some of their signature dishes across the causeway while retaining some Soyka classics.
Ambience: The Morningside spot is as handsome as ever, balancing a rustic, urban interior with warm farmhouse touches. An exposed wood beam ceiling frames the hangar-like space while polished terrazzo floors and low pendant lighting add Deco charm. The semi-open kitchen in the back of the restaurant is always humming with activity, giving the place a fast-paced big city feel.
The grub: Classic American cuisine with Mediterranean and Italian influences. The lengthy menu has a generous list of salads, a half-dozen burgers, fifteen mains and a handful of pizzas. So yes, there’s something here to please most palates. Prices are moderate and portions are large: starters average $12, salads are $9-$21 and most mains are under $20.
Dinner starts with thick slides of country bread and olive oil. The restaurant’s hummus platter and sautéed chicken livers with caramelized onions are an homage to owner Mark Soyka’s Israeli background. Suriel has added a few Italian classics including a slow-braised veal Osso Buco over mushroom risotto, an endive salad with prosciutto and pecorino cheese and a linguine and mussels dish bathed in a white wine and shallot cream sauce. Standbys like the massive Cobb salad, thick-crusted mac and cheese and the 10-ounce sirloin burger remain just as crowd-pleasing as ever.
New desserts include a chocolate soufflé (allot twenty minutes for the wait), a delicate pear tart and a down home blueberry crumble big enough for two and topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Verdict: The chef from Joe Allen takes over at Soyka, giving the neighborhood favorite a menu makeover.