Formerly known as Lola Lo, the old Post Office’s latest avatar is the hip, cosmopolitan Bar Soba. It is the brand’s sixth opening, and I was invited to a Cocktail Masterclass Evening with a sneak peek at the menu last night. Spirits were high (sorry couldn’t resist) as myself and a bunch of cool foodies descended on Derby’s newest bar to test our cocktail making skills whilst enjoying great company and tasty food.
The interior is a definite upgrade on its previous inhabitant. Whilst Lola Lo was heavily marketed for the student crowd, Bar Soba Derby is still student-friendly, yet feels more accessible to those of a wider age range. Yes the name and exterior may scream out “bar-club-drink-hangout-spot”, but you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, because that would be a massive disservice to the food.
The interior is artsy luxe with a heavy hit of urban. It feels spacious and sprawling downstairs, whilst the upstairs dedicated restaurant area is great for those who want an actual sit-down meal with table service to boot. A massive hat-tip to Team Bar Soba’s critical designer eye – the Prada (circa A/W 2016) inspired upholstered couches would make any fashionista feel at home on. Gin being the drink du jour is given a starring role, check out this stunning light display upstairs.
We kicked off the Cocktail Masterclass which I found to be interesting, informative and fun. We were put through our paces, here’s me (concentration game-face evident) pouring my heart and soul into a classic Mojito (Bacardi Carto Oro Rum, soda, muddled mint).
Here are a few awesome foodies (Angie, Jay, Kane and Jake) who also enjoyed the masterclass.
The masterclass was punctuated with food platters, giving a snapshot of the starters available. Soba focuses on a street-food and cocktail offering. The food is reminiscent of street vendors of South East Asia, using fresh produce including buttermilk and sauces that are made in-house.
Tiger prawn tempura was light and delicious, and the chicken gyoza dumplings deliciously dense and the pastry silky smooth. A personal favourite was the (very generous) portion of Super Thai Fries (peanut sauce, Soba mayonnaise, Sriracha chilli sauce, crushed peanuts, fried shallots). I think I have just made myself hungry thinking about these fries – they were freaking excellent, so I’m moving swiftly on.
For main, I had buttermilk fried chicken Katsu curry. I loved the succulent chicken, tenderised by the buttermilk bath, which was in great juxtaposition to its golden, crunchy exterior.
The Dude tucked into Singapore Street Noodles (wok-fried egg noodles, chicken, tiger prawns, sticky pork and chilli omelette, curry, ginger, garlic). Meaty morsels were delicious; I especially thought the spiked omelette was inspired and added umami to a stunning dish.
There was a selection of desserts, including pannacotta, chocolate fondant and my personal favourite, Japanese doughnut.
I loved the crisp exterior of the doughnuts, and the ice-cream that was on the cusp of melting was lovely with a bite of the fried pastry.
It’s a great menu, and there’s something for everybody. If you fancy yourself as a cocktail connoisseur and want to know more about delicious drinks, then check out Soba’s cocktail masterclasses. Prices start from £25 for a 90 minute class, with extra for a scrumptious 3 course dinner.
If you’ve been (you must check out those Special Thai Fries), then I’d love to know how you got on.
Eatery name: Bar Soba Derby
Address: The Old Post Office, Victoria St, Derby DE1 1EQ
Christmas opening times for week ahead:
Sunday (Christmas Eve) 12pm–1am
Monday (Christmas Day) Closed
How to make reservation: online via website
Covers: 90 in the restaurant upstairs as well as a spacious bar area with plenty of seating on the ground floor.
Wheelchair friendly? Yes.