320 Water Street
This place has the best tomato soup in existance.
And their macaroons are sooo good!
This is one of the best restaurants in town. The soups are amazing, squash, tomato adn chicken I’ve tasted and all were great. The greek salad has roasted red peppers in it which makes it amazing, the casear salad is wicked. The veggie panini is the best I’ve had in the city. Friends had pulled pork adn they said it was yummy.
And then there is the desserts. What can I say other than they are the most excellents bakers I’ve experienced. The cakes they make are pieces of art and taste even better. I’ve had the apple crisp, macaroons, cheesecake, truffles, cookies, and some others whose name escapes me but always done to perfection, with quality ingredients and fresh.
They could yuse more staff but it’s a great palce to go in and kick back, have a great cup of coffee and some really great quality food in a tasteful setting.
I eat there a lot (usually about 3 times/week), both eat in and take out.
First thing’s first: All of their desserts are amazing. I’ve never tasted desserts so good, and I’ve never been disappointed. They’re not sweet at all, just a really nice flavour of high quality ingredients.
Secondly: Their food is typically very good. There has been a couple of times when I was less than impressed (ie. two times I got the chicken soup and they had whole black pepper in it. Most times I order it, this is not present. Another time I got the chicken salad sandwich with a very, very thin layer of chicken salad. Most times both the chicken soup and chicken salad sandwiches are very good, however. I mention them just to be thourough.) Sometimes their service is slow, and I was once forgotten (when I was eating in; waited over 25 minutes and when I asked about it, they made it as I watched). However, for the amount of times that I’ve been there, the service is typically above standard, the staff is typically well natured, and the food is typically very good. The desserts have never been bad!
There is room for improvement, of course. Greater consistency with the meals and service, for instance. However, when they do it all right, it’s amazing.
The atmosphere of the resteraunt is very nice. The artwork and architecture makes it a very comfortable space that feels very high quality. You order at the counter, and if you’re eating in, they’ll bring it down to you. If not, wait at the counter. Prices are very reasonable, and all sandwiches are served with a side of kettle chips and pickle. Their ceaser salad is very nice, though they sometimes forget the lemon.
As I said, when they get it right, they’re amazing. When they don’t, it’s still a very nice place to eat.
Bistro Sofia is, as far as the price/deliciousness ratio goes, at the very top in St. John’s.
The chefs are world class, and the daily specials are consistently top notch. I’ve never tried the panini because, frankly, whatever they’ve got on special any time I’ve gone there has sounded to delicious to pass on — and invariably was.
They do game particularly well, and their soups are the city’s best, without question.
While I have some reservations about the overall aesthetic — it’s a little cavernous for a bistro — I have nothing but compliments and anticipatory salivation for the very idea of their food.
Oh yeah, their tiramisu is sublime as well.
yay for the food
boo for the service
We’ve eaten here twice for supper over the past couple of weeks, so our experience is somewhat limited. I’m only giving 3 starts, but the potential is huge for this spot, so we will return and try again! But based on our two visits:
The main entrees are incredible. The lamb shank is really sublime – falling off the bone in a beautiful sauce that lets the lamb flavour come through perfectly. Also, the evening special one night of filet mignon with scallops was perfect. Steak and scallops cooked just how they should be – scallops a bit carmelized on the outside but juicy on the inside. So flavourful.
Desserts really are the best in town. All from scratch, real cream, real Belgian chocolate, etc. No bakery pre-mixes used. You can taste it! Their choc cheesecake is not like any other in town and worth trying!
Prices are much lower than other restaurants serving similar food. Although, the entree portions tned to be a little smaller as well. But for the flavour they pack, it’s perfectly satisfying.
And now for the downside…Again, we’ve only been twice, so we’re hoping these things aren’t the norm!
The service was really poor both nights. Such a shame given the high quality of the food. The poor young girl serving us was alone one night and just didn’t know where to turn. People were calling to her from all over, people were sitting at tables and wondering why no one was approaching them, sitting with empty drink glasses and looking around, tables not bussed, etc. We felt sorry for the server, but the bistro really needs to improve the service situation! I have a food & beverage background, so I was quite entertained watching it all, and actually wanted to jump in and help both nights. The decor is already quite casual and coffee shop-ish (as fitting a bistro), but the poor service takes it down another notch and makes it feel even less elegant. Several customers were annoyed and we could overhear many comments on service issues, and rightly so – it shouldn’t be that way. Their prices are good, but you still expect reasonable service. Not to mention the lost opportunity for the bistro – my wine glass was empty and we would have loved another, but no chance. I saw several other ‘empties’ around the room and couldn’t help thinking – lots of lost sales for this little resto!
As well, both nights we were there, there was no printed or posted menu of the specials. That’s ok, except the poor young waitress took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling, and rattled through the 6 or 7 specials in about 8 seconds. No kidding – we couldn’t even understand, she mumbled them off so fast. Nevermind no descriptions, no details as to what each was served with. We had to ask her to repeat the list again, and she did the exact same thing all over, but in 7 seconds this time. It was a bit comical really, but again, a shame, because entrees of the quality and flavour they are serving should be clearly described for customers! It’s a real skill for a server to be able to go through menu items orally, so that guests can clearly hear and understand the options. And it can still be quick – but not that quick! For foodies like us, choosing what to order is important and we weren’t sure we caught all the choices, and didn’t have much info at all to go on for the choices we made.
Finally, by way of appetizers, both nights they offered a choice of 3 salads and 2 soups. The ‘shopska’ salad was simple, very lovely and fresh, but the Caesar was really bland – tasted like store-bought dressing (though I’m sure it wasn’t) – no lemony zing at all, croutons didn’t seem homemade and no nice peels of fresh parm. Definitely have had much better at many other spots on the city. We are soup lovers, but were really disappointed by the two we tried. The tomato had great consistency but was crazy overwhelmed by ginger! I love ginger, but you know when there’s too much and it just burns the back of your throat? Like the crazy ginger tea I make with fresh ginger when I feel a cold coming on – not a good scene for tomato soup! Similarly, the rabbit and mushroom soup was overpowered by an herb – I think maybe tarragon? so much that you could barely taste the rabbit (and rabbit is a fairly strong flavoured meat) which I normally love in soups or stews. In both cases, the herbs overpowered the soups, but it was obvious they were of high quality ingredients and if the seasonings were toned down I think they’d be fab. Maybe we had bad luck these nights.
SO! Giving only 3.5 starts for now. But we will definitely be back to try again for the sure. Those entrees and deserts are truly spectacular!! And I’m really hoping they can figure the service thing out…!
This place is situated in the location previously occupied by Coffee Matters. I don’t believe they have changed any of the decor: there are still shoes in front display window. The layout is also the same. You place your order at the counter and then the food is brought to the table. People behind the counter seemed distracted with their own thoughts and problems.
The seafood chowder we ordered took a very long time to arrive. It came with some nice toasted garlic bread. The waitress didn’t care to clear the coffee cup from the previous occupant.
We had a delicious seafood chowder in a tiny bowl for $6.
Not recommended: tiny portion, indifferent staff and gloomy atmosphere.
I have a mixed review for Bistro Sofia. Which by nature then, indicates not a truly great review.
Space: Very nice, clean and good noise level.
Food (the important part): Went with a party of four. Between us we ordered lamb, halibut (x2) and short ribs. All were delicious, however, there was a glaring lack of sides, especially on the Halibut plates. Beautiful halibut steaks with 4-6 butter beans, 4 green beans and 4 mini carrot pieces. The lamb plate seemed slightly more filling with what appeared to be a small amount of veggie stew to accompany the lamb. The short ribs, though delicious, were again on the skimpy side with 6 baby potato HALVES. Three baby potatoes in all. While we understand portion control, this was ridiculous when you consider these were all $22-$25 per plate. We are not on a low carb diet so give us a potato, a lettuce leaf, bread, something…
Dessert: Napoleon was terrific; Cheesecake and Mousse cakes too. Very good. Carrot cake was heavy and icing not great. Left some on my plate (amazing since I was still hungry from my lack of dinner). Coffee was good but took a long time to be served. Desert was mostly gone by the time it arrived and there were no offers of refills.
Service: We went at 630pm and as it wasn’t busy then, our initial service and food delivery was good. As the place got busier, service got worst and dessert/coffee delivery was poor. We waited and waited but no bill arrived. Line up was long to get checked out. Servers cannot efficiently man the cash when its busy so perhaps, consider having a designated cashier to do the billing and money taking.
We had a nice evening out but it was probably due more to the company and weather than the food. Would go for dessert again but eat elsewhere.
I really want to give this place a better review. The food is really amazing, and the atmosphere is nice. But the service is just awful. I’ve been there about half a dozen times, but I really don’t know if I’ll ever go back. The servers are really forgetful (waiting a half an hour on dessert, after I’ve paid for it) and they’ve been rude and made me feel uncomfortable as well (“You can SIT DOWN, you know!”). It takes them forever just to grill a panini, or like I said, bring you dessert. If you have A LOT of patience, then I guess you should try it. If not, steer clear.
Hello I am Tony one of the Bistro’s owner and I can say only thank you,and we will do all the best to improve what we have to.
everything I have eaten there, especially the desserts, has been amazing. the chicken salad sandwich and chicken vegetable soup are my favourites hands down.
i believe the owners need to take a good look at their staff and suggest that they find employment elsewhere. It doesn’t take a genius to interview someone and deduce that they might be friendly and helpful and care (even a little bit) about what they are doing. The service is an embarrassment. A poor representation of customer service to any visitors that come to our fine city.
What have I eaten here?
Probably every sandwich on the menu, lamb, cod, all of the deserts, soups, and I’ve “sampled” many of the wines without getting too belligerently drunk, but occasionally doing just that.
What’s to say?
Well, I keep going back.
The Chicken Schwarzwald does begin with the Governator’s last name, but it ends melting in your mouth with succulent chicken doused in a red wine cajun sauce served on fresh, toasted ciabatta. It’s the only sauce so good that I’d actually dipped my salad into it when the sandwich was all gone.
The salad (or chips) that accompany each meal are somewhat meek. The salad: mixed greens with Parmesan and drizzled with balsamic. The chips: plain.
Now, the salad gets the job done, but I won’t lie, I dream of having a nice Mediterranean salad with my Chicken Schwarz. However, money talks; I bet I could get one if I just paid two dollars more. As for the chips, tsk tsk, tsk. Why? If you make them yourself, consider changing something, because to me these just taste like Ruffles, and that just reminds me of children’s birthday parties with hot dogs and chips because chips were the most convenient side for strenuous mothers and aunts and volunteers.
Now, the other thing I have to mention here about sandwiches:
The panini’s are pre-made so depending on what day you go on, you may be Peter Popoff style-excited or you may act like those Koran burning fucks in the news right now, sour and unreasonably upset. Or maybe you’re just complacent to begin with. Either way, you should be ordering the Slow Roasted Pork or Chicken Scwarzwald instead of a fucking panini with tofu on it. I won’t stress that anymore.
The lamb shank made me cum, I’m pretty sure, and the meat would have fallen off the bone if a light breeze touched it.
The deserts are bar none the best in the city alongside some of the commissioned pastries you could buy (the black market for sweets) through superstars like Courtney Ralph of the Newfoundland Chocolate Company.
Yes, overall, it’s my home away from home. Once you find your place there and get nestled in, you won’t want to leave. I could go for a smoked meat sandwich right now, as a matter of fact.
My experience at Bistro Sophia was very sub-par. Three other guests and I walked in one day preparing to order lunch, but as soon as we opened the door to the place we were overcome with the smell of fumes. One of the guests was beginning to complain of a headache from the odor. We made our way to the counter and asked one or the women working there of the odor and she smiled and replied, “What smell?” I was dumbfounded by her response. “What smell?” How on earth could you have not smelled that disgusting scent. My guess is it was from construction next door, or because the bistro was just newly built, but to walk into a fine bistro and have to smell that and be expected to eat there, well my guests and I just could not do that. As well the overall appearance of the place looked messy and thrown together quickly, we promptly left without even tasting the food. Maybe later I will consider giving Bistro Sophia another try and hopefully then, they will have greatly improved.
As a regular customer I am begging you to hire some friendly employees. It will do wonders for your business.
Funny enough, I was there for lunch today…The food is always fantastic, but these gals that are hired are the pits. Nice to see someone else agrees.
Husband and I had supper there last night. The food was incredible and very reasonably priced. I’ve certainly paid more for less in this town. The service was very good, typical bistro service which suits me fine. I hate to be hovered over when trying to enjoy a meal. We had the tomato jinn, chicken veg soup, shopksa and caesar salads followed by the filet mignon with scallops and the duck confit. All were outstanding. Dessert selection looked fantastic but we were just too full to even consider it. I’d highly recommend this place to anyone.
Thank you for your comment. We will do all the bets to change this situation.
Don’t look at the menu or listen to the specials. Just ask the star chef Gregory to feed you. I have never been disappointed. This is Bistro service, not traditional restaurant service, so don’t expect the white-glove treatment. Be sure to leave room for desert though because the selection and quality is amazing. We have had cakes made for special occasions and they really are works of art. Order early because the secret is out.
I LOVE the chicken schwarzwald and the cupcakes and pretty much anything else I’ve ever tried at Bistro Sofia. I agree with some of the comments on the servers but there’s a girl with long brown hair who works there and she’s sweet as pie. I wouldn’t tar all the servers with the same brush.
One recommendation I would have is to get biodegradable take-out packaging. Right now, everything is styrofoam and it kills me a little to get take out because of it.
Their employees need to be less rude, and more attentive to their customers. Also, if the place is not busy, there is no need to tap impatiently on the counter while we scan the menu. They didn’t have all 3 of the things we originally wanted available (which we were also rudely informed of), so naturally we had to browse the menu for a different option. Be patient, lady.
I went to Bistro Sofia on the recommendation of people I trust. I went there for lunch 4 times and neither time impressed me. Mercifully,I know that most decent restaurants really don’t put the emphasis on lunch.So I went there for dinner and was blown away. The food is very rustic,you know it was cooking all day.I had a scallop appetizer-done to perfection,I had some at another place last week and they were like golf balls.Tuna steak was done to perfection as well,Sofia is one of about 2 restaurants in the city that know how to do seafood properly.So,for all the “chefs” who might read this,take note,and learn about this thing called carry over cooking. Last time I was there was last night and again the food was amazing. People have told me the service is not terrific here,but we were treated like gold and the place was full. Not only is the food fabulous,it’s the best value in the city. 2 appetizers,2 mains,2 bottles of vino for $160 is a steal. I recently had the same items at Gypsy Tea Room to the tune of $300 and it was CRAP! The only bad thing I can say about the place is (and this is not their fault) the leftover baygay decor from the previous tenants needs some help.That help can be somewhat achieved by dimming the lights-it’s way too bright there anyway. Restaurants come and go,but I sure hope this place is around for a long time!
I absolutely love this place…So much that I have dreams about their Schwartzwald sammich.
Have to say, since writing this review I’ve been back several times. The service has improved significantly! And they are still rocking those entrees and desserts.
Mom made a reservation for us both for 7:30 but due to inclement weather conditions and the Pitbull concert, we found it really tricky to find a parking spot. I called Sofia’s and pleaded that they not give our table away. “Promise,” she said. At 7:55 when we finally entered the restaurant our little table was ready and waiting for us!
We skipped appetizers to ensure there was room for dessert. The waitress was friendly and knowledgeable about the specials. I had the pork loin and Mom had the filet mignon. Both were really great, really delicious plates, which came out in an extremely timely manner. When the time came to order dessert, we told the waitress we had already peeked at the sewwets on display but to please tell us all about the desserts, and she obliged with fantastic descriptions. Mom wanted the chocolate mousse and the German chocolate cake but the waitress recommended we select the vanilla cheesecake to accompany the mousse, rather than have two chocolate desserts. That sounded fine, we did just that, and it was exactly perfect. If you do get the vanilla cheesecake, as we did, do not dismiss the toffee drizzle on the plate as decoration. It was superb! Another pleasant surprise: the coffee was outstanding.
There was nothing about this meal or restaurant that we didn’t love. Absolutely amazing!
AMAZING food! The Chicken Schwartzwald Sandwich is unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted, it’s unique and delicious. Unlike many others here, I’ve never had a problem with rude servers or slow service. Definitely one of my favorite restaurants in the city.
Sarah, Ive been hooked on that sandwich since trying it. I even ask for extra sauce and put it on my salad. :)
This restaurant has been on my recommended list since it opened. I consider it excellent quality / value.
All i have to say is Holey Moley Unreal. the food is soo delicious. The Scollops are to Die for, the Filet was the best i ever had, beats the keg anyday !!!!
C you again soon ;-) Service was also amazing
We are loving Bistro Sofia these days! Had a fantastic supper there again last week. Absolutely fantastic food at reasonable prices, and there service has improved so, so much over the past year – they really deserve kudos for that.
We shared the duck salad to start and it was just delicious, and definitely enough for two to share as an appetizer. Our mains were the lamb shank and the filet mignon, both which were cooked to perfection. The lamb was so flavourful and falling off the bone.
Only sad part is that we were still too full for dessert, even after sharing our app. But that’s just an excuse to go back on the weekend just for coffee and dessert.
One small complaint I would have about this past meal was that I ordered the filet mignon which was supposed to come with a leek, mushroom and port sauce. My mouth was all ready for that…but the sauce that actually came on the filet was very SWEET. Not what I was expecting and not to my liking with beef. People who like sweet sauces might enjoy, as it seemed to have kind of a cocoa/mole thing going on. Creative, but not to my liking and not as advertised on the menu! I wouldn’t have ordered this if it had been described accurately on the menu. Next time I’ll ask them to hold the sauce if I’m wanting the beef again…!
3 stars? are you kidding me? this is why good restaurants never survive in St. John’s. Bistro Sophia is one of the best restaurants in the city. It is not your classic “enter, be seated, have your order taken, wait for food”. etc. And it is not intended to be! Note the word “bistro”. You order at the counter, seat yourself, the food is usually quite quick and is delivered to your table. Who give’s a flying f*ck about how friendly the waiters are? Or the decor of the restaurant (which is actually pretty nice)? This is some of the only authentically European food in the city, and it’s quality is consistently well above other high-end restaurants downtown. I have never been disappointed with anything I have eaten there. In addition, hands-down the best dessert in the city. What more could you ask for. People leaving 1 star reviews based on “that one time i went there and smelled gas” should be crucified.
Bistro Sophia is my new fave spot to grab lunch downtown! I had a terrible experience with the previous (and unrelated) business in this location and guess I hadn’t given Sophia a fair chance till now.
About ten bucks all inc will get you a specialty sandwich with a lightly dressed side salad. Food comes quick, staff are friendly – sweet even, and the whole process wasn’t confusing or anxiety-inducing like in some spots.
I like that you go up to order and pay at the get go, then they bring food to your table. So many times I’ve been late getting back to work waiting pay for a meal.
I love Bistro Sophia, but I find their Caesar Salad to be very inconsistent. That is what I usually order, and at times there’s so much salad it’s perfect and filling and so delicious. At other times the plate barely has anything on it. Last time I got the salad I actually had to ask them to put crotons in since there was absolutely none in it. They told me they had to run downstairs to get a new bag as they were all out – I assume that’s why I wasn’t given any in the first place.
When the owner served me a few months back, I ordered an egg sandwich with a half Caesar, and I paid about $8 for it (which is the price of just the full Caesar), and I got a mountain of salad! It was more salad than I’m used to getting when I order just the salad!
When they do it right, it is phenomenal, however the inconsistency really puts me off. I don’t mind spending $8 for a Caesar salad as long as I know I’m going to get a bit more than a handful.
I’m generally pretty easygoing when it comes to restaurants, but I have to give a thumbs down. We had reservations for a group of 8, and our table was ready when we arrived. It took about 20 minutes for the server to take our drink orders, followed by our food orders. Appetizers came out after about an hour, following which we sat there waiting…and waiting…each time the server would pass by we would ask, and she would say the food would be out shortly. Lots of empty glasses on the table, and getting a refill usually required several requests.
After 2.5 hours, we decided we were going to leave. We went up to the counter to settle our bills, and a young man came out of the kitchen and began apologizing. He told us that he thought our reservation had been cancelled and that was why things were slow; didn’t make much sense, since we had been there for 2.5 hours at that point. He said that the meals were now ready, and if we wanted to take a seat they would be out right away. For the next few minutes service was great; obviously the young lady serving us was aware that we were ticked off and was trying to migitate.
Food ranged from poor to good. The beef rib was very good, but the rest of the dinners were just ok. I had salmon with a beet-root risotto; salmon was bland, risotto was cold. Ceasar salad was bland, with soggy croutons that just looked like untoasted chunks of bread. Some of the entrees were quite small; there was a cod special that had a piece of cod and probably half a cup of julienne vegetables, not much substance for a $30 entree.
In the end they didn’t charge us for the food, but that wasn’t the issue. We were fully prepared to pay for our meals, and expecting to enjoy a nice evening. What we got was very slow service, empty glasses and bland food.
There are now so many good restaurants in and around St. John’s that this kind of service and poor quality just isn’t going to cut it. Some people love this place, but this was my first visit, and will likely be my last.
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