Moroccan Soup Bar
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Middle Eastern
Address: 183 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North
Phone: (03) 9482-4240
Hours: Dinner only (6-10pm) Tue-Sun
Prices: Very cheap!
The striking looking owner comes over to the table with little glasses of sweet mint tea. She kneels beside us and asks, “Have you been here before?” For newcomers there is a preamble about the menu being verbal, yes there is soup, but also a range of dips, vegetable and grain dishes and Middle Eastern pastries. For regulars it’s easy, she asks you to gauge how hungry you are and then brings a stream of tasty food. This is the banquet, which can be lacto or vegan according to your requirements and from mint tea through to the shot of Moroccan coffee with dessert it will cost you about $16.50.
Dips are usually yoghurt or tahini based and come with some pickles, olives and pitta bread. My favourite is one made from cauliflower and was good to see it still on the menu when a group of us ate there recently. The spread this night for mains included – fried eggplant and spicy rice, chickpeas in a tangy yoghurt sauce on pitta, couscous with large chunks of vegetable in a flavoursome stew, a potato based dish with of lemon and tahini and finally a plainer rice and lentil plate. The amount was judged perfectly. The noninsomniacs followed it with the strong, sweet thimble full of coffee and we all tasted the dainty pastries. Other than baklava the stand out was a finger shaped biscuit spiked with rosewater and filled with a figs.
The Moroccan Soup Bar is tasty and cheap but I have a few minor niggles. Only groups of 6 or more can book a table and being a small restaurants it means unless you turn up before 6.30-7 pm it can be a long wait. There is no ‘bar’ to sidle up to, as this is a tea total (Muslim) establishment. On that note, men should be careful to not accidentally touch the women working there as that breaks some cultural taboos.
Friends from across the Yarra who may feel uncomfortable in the eclectically shabby surrounds might prefer the more up market Middle Eastern locals (Zum Zum or Najla). But for the rest of us, the Moroccan Soup Bar will do just fine for feel good, healthy food with a twist.
Review by another outspoken female