WHENEVER the subject of local drin-king institutions in Penang is raised, Soho is the name on the tip of most tongues. And no wonder, with its tagline like ‘every hour, everyday, non-stop, happy hours’.
It’s not just that though. In this day and age where the nature of entertainment outlets are so competitive and the average lifespan re-latively short, Soho has not only hung on for eight years but has also developed a large, consistent clientele, not something that many other pubs can boast about.
Soho is one outlet that evol-ves with time. Part backpac-ker’s hangout and part local happy-hour watering hole, it first started as Soho Free-house. The latest addition is the Soho Penthouse, an extension above the Freehouse.
With stained glass windows, retro black and white tiled floor, framed by plush lounge seating and velvet curtains, the Penthouse adds a more posh touch to the whole ‘Soho’ feel.
Owner Dave Chin, who per-sonally hunted down the gold and burgundy curtains, says “I wanted to give the place a ‘chillout’ ambience, make it as comfortable as my own living room.”
Well, he definitely succee-ded. Every little detail is well placed, down to the chande-liers and tableside lamps that cast a warm glow to the whole place.
The Penthouse is the place to lounge about with friends, soothing ambient music helps you relax but doesn’t drown out conversations. It is equip-ped with a big TV screen for the sport fans as well as a pool table and dart board to keep you occupied.
The high ceilings and open windows ensure that the place never feels stuffy or cramped up, while the tables on the lit-tle balcony overlooking Pe-nang Road makes a nice spot to dine or take in the pleasures of downtown Penang on cool evenings.
Downstairs, Soho Freehouse is your quintessential laid- back British pub, equipped with worn-in wood and lea-ther seats, pool, foosball tables and a well-stocked bar.
Between lunchtime and dinnertime, the music is a mix of easy listening and retro fa-vourites but once the dinner ends, the music picks up and the DJs start spinning a good mix of R&B and dance music. The large dance floor is often packed with people grooving to the beat.
The Freehouse and Pent-house share the same extensive beverage list. It boasts the widest range of beer-on-tap in the northern region, wines, li-quors and cocktails. There is even Guinness on tap, a bit of a rarity because most places don’t garner the turnover to serve it on tap.
The food menu is somewhat entertaining with its tongue-in-cheek expressions such as ‘Soho’s Quickies’ and ‘A Bit on the Side’. It features a wide range of British staples like Bangers ‘n’ Mash, Steak & Ti-ger Pie and Apple Pie & Cus-tard.
Soho’s Freehouse serves food between noon and 11 pm daily, while the Penthouse opens at 6pm for the dinner crowd. Drinks are served till late.