Sophie’s Restaurant at The Mall of San Juan
Avocado Caprese Salad
Located within Saks Fifth Avenue, Sophie’s at Saks is the newest restaurant to open in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the brand new Mall of San Juan. The third Sophie’s in the United States, this incarnation is reminiscent of the Sophie’s at Saks brand – a study in understated elegance and luxury. The restaurant is named after famed designer Sophie Gimbel of Saks Fifth Avenue’s exclusive haute couture boutique, Salon Moderne. Gimbel was the first American designer to grace the cover of Time Magazine in 1947 and for decades championed American couture and American designers.
To enter Saks Fifth Avenue itself is to step into a world of sensory splendor. The scents, colors, textures, and now flavors, are all in perfect harmony. To reach Sophie’s, one must walk along the wide aisles of white marble lined with magnificently curated rows of silk, cashmere, brocade fabrics, buttery leather, and exquisite beading, all in a rainbow spectrum of color. Tucked away in an intimate corner on the second floor, amongst the likes of Oscar de la Renta and Alexander McQueen, an intimate bar space heralds one’s arrival at Sophie’s. From here, the restaurant opens up into a spacious, wide restaurant set in a monochromatic palate of neutral shades, where glass walls allow natural light to take center stage. As on the sales floor, it is the product that is foregrounded – the locally sourced fresh food pops off the plate with vibrancy and color.
Catalán Chef Alexandro Reyes, executive chef of the Sophie’s brand, is a big proponent of locally sourced seasonal ingredients. He was a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement in the eastern United States. This ethos is palpable at Sophie’s of San Juan where executive chef Ivonne Martinez’s menu draws from many local fresh seasonal ingredients.
Bread for the premium Mallorca Sandwich is provided by local favorite Kasalta Bakery. The Cuban Tripleta is covered with Montserrate cheese sourced from Quesos Vaca Negra in Hatillo. Local ingredients are considered in the smallest details – a hummus made from gandules and a spread of West Indian pumpkin seeds were served with bread in lieu of butter. The mojito on their carefully crafted cocktail menu takes on a Puerto Rican element made with coconut, basil, and local Barrilito Rum.
The menu’s contemporary American faire emphasizes freshness. Starters include: Avocado Caprese Salad, an Ottowa Salmon Cake, and Gazpacho Andaluz. The entree menu includes no less than four salads, Premium Beef Sirloin, and Parmesan and Oat Dusted Chicken.
On our recent visit we sampled the cappuccino of Puerto Rican mushroom soup, the Cuban ‘Tripleta,’ and finished with their fudge brownie tiramisu affogato.
Made with local mushrooms, the Cappuccino Soup is a play on light and dark – coffee and cream. Delicately creamy it is indeed, as well as extremely satisfying. A light truffle goat cheese foam lends a slight sweetness to the soup to delicious effect.
The Cuban ‘Tripleta’ has Puerto Rican touches throughout and is chef Ivonne Martinez’s favorite dish. It is made with roasted grass-fed pork, black forest ham, jamón íberico de bellota, Ausubel Vaca Negra cheese, and pineapple mustard seed relish on four-grain bread. Salty, with a slight tangy sweetness, this filling sandwich is accompanied by plantain chips. Maybe not the perfect selection for anyone planning on visiting the swimsuit department afterwards, but delicious none-the-less.
Finally, the Chocolate Fudge Brownie Tiramisu Affogato with Nutella, Horchata Foam Ganache, and a shot of Puerto Rican espresso was the perfect, if not overly-indulgent, end to this meal. This nutty, chocolatey dish leaves one floating on a fluffy horchata foam cloud of bliss.
Fudge Brownie Tiramisu
Sophie’s is an idyllic setting for a ladies lunch or an after work business meeting. The restaurant is also available for private hire and special events. Their opening hours are in accordance with those of Saks Fifth Avenue and the Mall of San Juan. Monday through Friday they serve a lunch menu from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm and a tapas menu from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Sunday lunch runs all day from 11:30 to 4:30.
From May 27 – June 3, Sophie’s will be participating in Puerto Rico Restaurant Week. Sophie’s will be offering a $20 pre-fixe lunch and $28 pre-fixe dinner menu. Don’t miss out, make your reservations now!
After such a pleasurable and sizable lunch, I made a beeline past all clothing and went straight to the shoe department. Thinking about walking around in expensive designer shoes counts as exercise, right?
By: Caroline Johnson for @SpoonFoodTours
Images by Caroline Johnson and Sophie’s