York’s newest rooftop bar and restaurant, SORA, is the definition of ’50s glitz, artfully blended with a touch of modern elegance. On a warm summer night, I dined there with the handsome actor Mathew Bose, and I could have been in Saint Tropez, drinking rosé at Le Club 55, or lounging on a chic striped white and grey cushioned sofa on the rooftop of New York’s Soho House.
The similarities between New York City and this mediaeval metropolis end there, though. From personal experience, I can say that the view of Lower Manhattan from the top of Soho House pales in comparison to that of SORA bar, located on the seventh floor of the brand new Malmaison Hotel on Rougier Street.
York Minster, clad in caramel-colored sandstone, stands out like a magnificent stately dame and deserves all the acclaim it receives. Bootham is surrounded by Georgian and Victorian era townhouses, while the beautiful Museum Gardens can be found to the left. Various churches, the River Ouse, and residences (some of which date back to the early Middle Ages) make up the cityscape, while the White Horse at Kilburn and the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside can be seen far off in the distance.
Whoever at Malmaison had the bright idea of integrating a rooftop bar as part of the building’s restoration from drab former Avida insurance office to elegant hotel and bar deserves a promotion immediately; the view is simply magical.
After reading that SORA’s Asian fusion tapas and beverage menu will “elevate the senses,” my friend Mathew and I set out to browse the offerings with much anticipation. The charming manager, Johno, takes the time to describe each dish before putting us in the capable hands of Gabriel, who, based on his level of care and concern, must be one of the most charming servers ever.
A “perfect brew”
We decided to order a variety of dishes to get the full SORA experience while sipping £10 cocktails like the sublime peach and lychee spritz (crème de peche, feh lychee liqueur, lavender cordial, peach bitters, prosecco, and peach soda) and the Mizuwari highball (single grain Japanese whisky, sparkling water, and grapefruit).
We started with the beef fillet tataki (£8.50), which was marinated in mooli, garlic, sesame, ponzu, and sesame oil. The combination of sharp flavours did, in a literal sense, “elevate the senses.” Then, we went on to the miso-glazed black cod (£13) and the beautiful aubergine (£5), all of which were cooked to perfection and enhanced by the miso caramel and whipped tofu.
Mathew, a sushi and sashimi expert, ordered a delicious variety of dishes, including a California Roll (£8) consisting of avocado, cucumber, and spring onion and a Dragon Roll (£10) consisting of tempura tiger prawn, salmon, avocado, and spicy mayo.
We were told by Gabriel that we had to eat at KFC (£6), but instead of the greasy fast food joint, we got Korean fried cauliflower. Normally I eat this cruciferous vegetable boiled and covered in cheese, but the cauliflower at KFC was the most flavorful and satisfying I’ve ever had. We also had the Hand Cut Fries ($4) with rosemary and chilli ($4) and the Flamed Edamame Beans ($4), and everything was delicious, especially the Tempura Tiger Prawns ($7.50) with sweet chilli sauce.
We didn’t get to try the desserts this time around due to our lengthy conversation, but we want to try the Valrhona Chocolate and Matcha Mousse (£6.50) and the Stem Ginger Marshmallows with almond crumb and chocolate sauce (£6.50) on our next visit.
Weekend revellers can enjoy cocktails while watching the sun set to the sounds of live jazz or disco at the beautiful SORA sky bar. The chic hotel provides 150 rooms for guests to relax in after enjoying the seven-floor indoor restaurant and bar or the lobby’s Chez Mal Brasserie and Bar.
York was established by the Ninth Legion 2,000 years ago, yet it took that long for a luxurious rooftop bar to be built. The wait was well worth it, as seen by SORA’s delicious food and cocktails, amazing service, incredibly skilled chefs, and breathtaking vistas. Just KFC to-go orders would make my day.
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