Sophie’s Cafe is now open in Barsha Heights, offering up a range of hot lunch dishes, drinks, smoothies and cakes.
Healthy food is this place’s USP, with breakfast offerings including gluten-free, veggie and vegan dishes – and yes, it has the ubiquitous avocado toast in no less than three varieties. But we were here for lunch.
First impressions – at this cafe in the Auris Metro Central Hotel at the front of Barsha Heights, is that it is a place of two halves. A large, fairly dark room hits you first, and feels corporate, despite fresh flowers and large windows. The sort of place to go for a business meeting, a quick coffee, and one of the cakes displayed under enormous domes in the centre of the room.
Go a little further, and there’s a more friendly, relaxed cafe area, brightly lit, and dominated by the serving counter, bright colours and a wall covered in a bright leafy print.
Lunchtime offers a range of prepared dishes, when we visited these included roast chicken, chicken cacciatora, chicken Milanese, poached salmon, meatballs, vegetable lasagne, rice salad, French beans with garlic, penne with asparagus and mushrooms, or tomato and basil, avocado corn salad, lemon lentil salad and broccoli with feta.
There’s a range of deals – one salad for AED18, two and a main for 65, or three salads for AED49.
It wasn’t made clear there’s no menu – you pint and choose or look at the chalkboard menu behind the counter, and staff seemed preoccupied.
There’s a large range of juices, smoothies, Abvantcha teas, coffees and milk alternatives are offered too.
We chose the veggie lasagne, corn avocado salad and the French beans, and all disappointed. The lasagne was insipid, mostly soggy mushrooms enrobed in dull pasta; the corn avocado salad was average and the beans didn’t provide the garlic punch promised. We also took the penne with tomato and basil, which was bland, uninspiring and forgettable.
With a promise of fresh, healthy food, maybe we made bad choices, but to us, this felt like school dinners.
While staff swatted flies near the large window overlooking the car park, we felt this was a better place to come for a quick meeting and a coffee.
Then we took a slice of carrot cake, which decidedly lifted the mood – rich, decadent and worth coming back for.
Come here for a breakfast, a smoothie or a coffee and you probably won’t be disappointed, but we won’t be returning for lunch in a hurry.