The Cheap Eats guide and word of mouth are unanimous in their praise of the Moroccan Soup Bar. Michael and I had already had one unsuccessful attempt at getting a table, and given that they only take bookings for six or more people, I filed it away as a candidate for a large dinner group. The first such opportunity arose this week with two researchers from my last workplace in Brisbane visiting Melbourne, and I arranged for all the Melbournites they already knew to meet up for dinner. Ten of us slid into cushioned benches, set in a low-lit but brightly-coloured long room already brimming with chatter before we'd opened our mouths.
I was a little apprehensive about choosing a vegetarian, alcohol-free venue on behalf of a lot of other people, but the tasty food and comfortable setting more than compensated for the absence of our usual vices. To keep things simple we shared a banquet. It started off with dips, marinated vegetables and pita bread, then moved onto plates full of marinated eggplant and other veges, rice and legumes, all vibrant (and some quite heated) with Meditteranean spices. The highlight for me was the chickpea dish (centre left): creamy with a lemon tang and almond crunch.
We regretted sending back a couple of unfinished bowls that we just couldn't fit in, and Mich (one of the ten in attendance) tells me that they allow you to take leftovers home if you bring an empty lunchbox of your own. Thankfully round three was a small and dainty plate of sweets: shortbread and pastry with pistachios, sweetened with dates and honey. These were presented with equally dainty and aromatic cups of spiced coffee.
The bill came to only $16.50 a head, and even then the waitress gave us a couple of dollars grace when we muddled the total. With its comfortable and casual approach, I don't hesitate to add my voice to the chorus of Moroccan Soup Bar devotees.
Address: 183 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North
Ph: 9482 4240
Price: $10.50 for veg mains, $16.50 per person for 3-course banquet