Restaurant of the month: Soiree, Buckhurst Hill
PUBLISHED: 16:11 08 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:11 08 May 2017
Delicious food and a great atmosphere is fast turning Soiree in Buckhurst Hill into a favourite
Enter Soiree on Queen’s Road, and you are quickly fooled into thinking you’re in a restaurant of several years’ standing. From its stunning urban, rustic interior, friendly and attentive staff and accomplished Mediterranean cuisine, it has the appearance of an established local eatery.
But as the saying goes, appearances can be deceptive because upon my visit, I soon discover the restaurant has only been open two weeks – the paint really is barely dry. How has this illusion been so successfully achieved? Step forward George Kucuk, an affable chap in his early 30s who greets me with a firm handshake, before identifying himself as the driving force behind Soiree’s
It comes as no surprise to discover that George isn’t new to the restaurant business, although admittedly, this is the first one he has done solo and completely from scratch. Not that he intended to open his own venture. “I came to look at this space (it was previously Nuovo Brasserie) mostly out of curiosity, but as soon as I walked in I knew I wanted it and I could make it work.”
A resident of Buckhurst Hill for more than two decades, George, who’s originally from Turkey, was confident that he knew just the sort of dining experience locals wanted. “People round here love to eat out, but they don’t always want to dress up to do so, and they don’t always want to leave the children at home. I wanted to create somewhere that had a lively and informal atmosphere, but where the décor, food and drink are all top notch.”
But before he could do that, George had the builders and decorators in for four long months, first gutting the place and knocking down walls, before creating a fabulous bar and open plan dining area. Such care and attention has been given to the fixtures and fittings, the place combines the best of West Essex with the West End. “I’m glad you say that because that’s exactly what I wanted to achieve,” says George smiling broadly. “People don’t have to travel to London to enjoy great food and a great atmosphere, it’s here on their doorstep.”
And ever since Soiree opened its doors, business has been booming. “The weekend sittings are chock a block, which is amazing, considering up and until now we’ve done no advertising so people are coming purely through word of mouth. Weekdays and lunchtimes are building more slowly, but I’m confident we’ll get there. What we’re offering has such broad appeal, we’ve already hosted a 17th birthday and a 60th, and then there’s the families…” says George pointing to his own wife and children sat at a table by the window.
Food-wise, the grill features heavily on the menu, with the lamb shish, chicken kebab and grilled salmon proving particularly popular with the punters. “Everything is delivered that day and where possible is locally sourced, so the flavours and textures are second to none. We also have a stone oven for the pides (like a pizza but with Turkish flair) and our mini lahmacuns (thin dough topped with mince meat), our customers can’t get enough of these - they can’t pronounce them, but they love them,” laughs George.
Last but not least is the alcohol, with the restaurant boasting an excellent wine list and a cocktail menu that would put a speakeasy to shame. Factor in the booths that can house larger groups of 20 or more, then you can see how things could get very lively indeed. “Believe me, they already have,” says George with obvious delight. “The locals know me and they know George will always make it nice.”
Get in touch
79 Queen’s Rd,
Buckhurst Hill IG9 5BW
020 8504 9498