Cool. Contemporary. City-chic.
Think comfy sofas, plush cushions, creative cocktails, subtle soapy features and industrial decor – The Soap Factory is the city’s hottest new venue. With its prime position on Whitehall Quay and its trim, tasteful furnishings, it’s the perfect spot for post-work drinks, weekend downtime or somewhere to sip cocktails with friends on a Friday night.
The Soap Factory tells a tale, not just a journey of the food and drink offering, but the story of its local, industrial heritage. The building’s past is illustrated in its interior charm, taking inspiration from legendary local entrepreneur, Joesph Watson of Watson & Sons and his Whitehall Soap Works. ‘Soapy Joe’s’ functioned as one of the largest soap manufacturers in England, and it’s importance is still evident in its new habitat. With hints of its former glory shining through, the ex-factory now stands as a Novotel hotel – with this fabulous new venue sitting at its feet.
It takes an industrial-style from its structural past as a factory. It adopts soap-inspired designs from its purpose as a soap manufacturer. And it incorporates forward-thinking, design-led interiors for its new home as a contemporary, city centre venue. It’s clear that The Soap Factory has been on a real journey – and we’re thrilled to be part it. Oversized soap bubbles float on concrete walls above the tables, luxurious leather couches separate the bar from the lounge area and sleek black tiles characterise the bar. It’s industrial, it’s zinc-coated – yet it’s warm and inviting.
As one of the city’s chicest cocktail lounges, a flight through the handcrafted cocktail list is oh-so necessary. Making our way through the colourful offering, each drink is served up in sophisticated style and tastes as good as it looks.
The kitchen have created a modern British menu, but with an American twist – packed with fried chicken bites and bulging burgers. Guests can expect seasonal starters, sharing platters and burgers aplenty – but it’s the posh pot noodles that really strike our interest. The Soap Factory’s take on the dish that has ‘student life’ written all over it is quite remarkable. The posh pot noodles are served in a glass pot with miso broth – you can choose from teriyaki beef with shiitake mushrooms, sweet chilli prawns or chicken with lemon grass and ginger. Taking a ‘back of the cupboard’ classic and bringing it back to life – what’s not to love?
We kick things off with a couple of classic starters. I opt for the yorkie egg (£4.50), while my dinner date goes for the tempura prawns (£5.50). The scotch egg is cooked to perfection, runny yolk in the centre with a crips, black pudding coating. The tempura prawns are served up with a chipotle mayo that really cuts through the flavour, adding a touch of spice to a simple dish.
For the main course, although the posh pot noodles sound oh-so enticing, we both swerve for the main event; the burgers. For my pal, it’s the ‘Soapy Joe’ (£12.50) – a “real two hander”. Two beef burgers, smoked bacon, swaledale Yorkshire cheddar, fried onions, gherkins, a friend hen’s egg, salad and house relish packed into a brioche bun. It gives any American burger-joint a run for its money. And because they all sound so delicious, I’m pleased see the sliders (£8.50) – giving diners the option of selecting three favourites from the burger menu. I go for the Joe’s Classic – 170g beef burger with lettuce, tomato, onion and house relish, the Bombay Chicken – Marinated chicken breast with tandoori spices, yoghurt, lettuce, tomato, onion, bhaji, cracklings and raita and the East Coast – a delicate mix of white fish, prawns, herbs and chillies, lettuce, tomato, onion and lemon dill relish. All goes down well with a cocktail and a side of sweet potato fries (£3.00).