Thursday, March 08, 2007

March 5, 2007: Soul Food

02/01/2013: Recently Soulfood has changed hands. While the menu's still largely vegetarian, they have introduced meat dishes. This post probably doesn't reflect the current incarnation.

Monday night found Michael and I near his Gertrude St workplace and hunting for dinner. Giving him a break from his usual lunchtime haunts, I suggested a stroll north along Smith St, where we happened upon Soul Food. This ain't no chard and chitterlings: rather, Soul Food is a vegetarian cafe that I'd previously bypassed for Bebida, but a review by Dirty Flamingo had since revived my interest. The window gives a list of half a dozen burger options (and chips!), so Michael and I decided on our order right there on the street before proceeding to place our order at the counter. Once inside we realised that our options were much broader: a large display case houses salads, wraps, patties and other dishes of the day, along with a few simple but delicious-looking cakes. Blackboards also promise $8 pizzas, freshly squeezed juices, lassis and shakes, while fridges and shelves house bottled organic juices, beer and a small selection of wine. We stuck with our original choices but added a juice each: a Liver Kick (apple, lemon and ginger) for me and an Over the Hangover (orange and apple) for Michael ($3.75 each). They arrived promptly, frothing with freshness.

Sucking our straws, we had our first chance to gaze at the alternative dinners in the display cabinet and contemplate the vibe. The scene is hippyish without the scent of self-righteousness - girls with dreads and beers chatted happily alongside a suit immersed in his iPod and his dinner. The tables are comfortably spaced and the music is mid-tempo. I appreciated the relaxed atmosphere as I compared it to the hot, hip and happening Vegie Bar. Before my train of thought progressed any further, it was de-railed by the arrival of our 'chips for one' ($5.50): a generous plate of chunky potato and sweet potato wedges with a herby mayonnaise, evidently just seconds out of the deep-fryer. Michael pounced on them as quickly as I did. Crisp, brightly seasoned and a bit greasy on the outside, steamy soft on the inside, satisfying all the way through. They were gone before we'd even caught sight of our burgers.

However the burgers did arrive in the time that one would normally expect to wait for dinner. As you can see, they're almost as tall as they are wide! Both featured lightly toasted pide-style rolls and lots of fresh salad. Michael thoroughly enjoyed his tofu satay burger ($9.50). I found my tempeh slabs a bit dry, but only the corners that weren't also smothered by the mild, sweet and peanutty satay sauce. As I felt the weight of the chips accumulate in my stomach, I left a smallish tempeh piece and just polished off my saucy crunchy veges. I didn't have the room or the will to talk Michael into chai for two! There will no doubt be other opportunities, because I thoroughly enjoyed the no-meat and few-frills experience of Soul Food.

Address: 273 Smith St, Fitzroy
Ph: 9419 2949
Licensed & BYO
Price: veg mains $8-14

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