A new Argentinian bar and restaurant has created more than 35 jobs and brought investment of almost £1m into Leicester's Cathedral Quarter.
Sonrisa, which is close to where King Richard III was discovered, has been created by Jabbar Khan, 45, a multi award-winning restauranteur from Birmingham.
Simon Jenner, Director of BID Leicester said: “Leicester has fought hard to create a reputation, among foodie circles, as being one of the hottest cities on the culinary map.
"That our unique city has attracted the attention of one of the industry’s most talented
restauranteurs to launch this brand-new concept is thrilling and testament to the growing confidence of the city."
Jabbar shot to food fame when his inaugural restaurant, Lasan Indian Restaurant & Cocktail Bar, won Gordon Ramsay’s F Word contest beating off 10,000 restaurants to be crowned as Best Local Restaurant.
Since then, he has gone on to become one of the industry’s most accomplished and influential operators with a growing portfolio including Fiesta del Asado; the long-established Indian cafe, Raja Monkey, and his new Portuguese-Indian venture, Estado da India.
Sonrisa, which means smile in Argentina's official language of Spanish, represents Jabbar’s first foray into Leicester.
Jabbar Khan, owner, commented: “We are thrilled to launch Sonrisa into Leicester. In Buenos Aires, ‘Buena Onda’ refers to good food, good times and good company. It’s a catch-all phrase for anything that puts a Sonrisa (smile) on your face, and we can’t think of anything that makes people smile more than ‘buenos aires’ (good air), delicious food and fine wine.
"We know from experience that Leicester is a city of many cultures and cuisines, and we hope to build on that premier league reputation for sensational food and give you plenty of reasons to smile from the inside out.
“There’s something special about Latin dishes and delights that tempt, tease and leave you hungry for more. Arrive early for a light, lingering lunch, a delicious coffee perk-up, or stay late into the night, grazing on the colourful sights, musical sounds, small plate delectables or large sharing plates. This is Comida Argentina done right.
“There’s no other city like Buenos Aires. Between its ability to breathe life and fire into its culture and its chic neighbourhoods like Palermo Soho and San Telmo, Buenos Aires has a way of winning over people’s hearts.
"So, we created Sonrisa, a modern café-bar haunt that makes the perfect spot for social gatherings — Buenos Aires-style. Kick back with a cocktail, meet friends old and new, or order a strong cup of coffee. We promise you won’t ever want to leave.
"Eat some delicious food or drink some wine. Sway to the intoxicating music that dances out of the bar and spills into the busy street. At Sonrisa, friends old and new gather to raise a glass. So go on — grab a friend, grab a drink, and stay as long as you like."
Standing confidently at the crossroads of the Cathedral Quarter and The Lanes – the heartland of Leicester’s independent retail and hospitality sector - Sonrisa boasts impressive
bone-structure architecturally, with its Grade II-listed features enhanced further under the design direction of Mel Spencer of Spencer Swinden Design.
The former Leicester Savings Bank, which dates back to 1873, has been sensitively and
beautifully transformed with a bright, airy feel – thanks to the large picture windows and stunning double-height, glass feature ceiling.
They’ve brought a lushness to the venue with exotic greenery and an eclectic mix of furniture and furnishings in gorgeous shades of teal, mustard, navy and wood. It creates a picture-perfect, comforting vibe that’s as perfect for lunch and dinner, or just as special for cocktails or as a late-night café-bar hang out.
The venue is given further pizazz with the open kitchen, which creates a striking focal point at the centre of the design and from which you can see, hear and smell the heavenly dishes being prepared by the skilled brigade of Sonrisa chefs.
With an authentic menu bursting with new-favourites, diners can expect much more than perfectly cooked steaks like the mouth-watering Marucha Flat Iron served with buttery
potato terrine, tangy pickled shallots, aioli and picante chimichurri; or, if you want to share, the stunning 900g Sirloin on the bone served with garlic and potato terrine, caramelised red
peppers, padron peppers and picante chimichurri.
If you’re of a more nautical persuasion, you could be tempted with the freshest wild Atlantic prawns with garlic, butter, red chilli and fresh parsley served on toasted Galician bread; or the mouth-watering Plancha grilled halibut with olives, onion and potato in a spiced tomato sauce. But let’s also not forget the sensational Iberian Lamb loin, or Secreto Acorn Pork, which are menu highlights, too.
Served throughout the day from noon to 11pm, Sonrisa can sit and serve 120 people inside of the venue, and a further 40 outside on its sun-soaked, wrap-around terrace; perfect for whiling away the hours and people watching with a coffee, or one of their trademark
To tickle the tastebuds of the city, Sonrisa will launch with a month-long, 50% off dining offer, subject to availability.