Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Soul Mama, Melbourne, Australia

Soul Mama Global Vegetarian Cafe
St Kilda Baths

Soul Mama is set on the beachfront in St Kilda. The restaurant has large tables and offers great views over the bay. On the way in there is an area with a lovely log fire that has cushions strewn around it that would make for a very interesting eating experience I imagine. However, we went for the standard option and sat around a table.

The concept of ordering the food at Soul Mama is very simple. You pay for the size of bowl you would like and then fill it with rice and either four or five other dishes from their buffet depending on the size of the bowl you order.

I decided to start with a courgette, leek and tomato soup which was very nice - not too tomatoey, which (for me) is good. It was actually quite filling and I was wondering how much of the buffet I would actually be able to eat. No matter - I would give it a good try anyway.

The buffet was fairly extensive with a range of hot dishes and cold salads. However, a lot of it was fairly standard veggie fare and tended towards the curry side of world cuisine. Aside from the curries, there were a couple of other veggie staples - pasta and tomato sauce and moussaka.

Now, don't get me wrong, just because I think the menu was fairly standard doesn't mean that it wasn't good. For my part I had saffron rice, vegetable satay, spicy lentils, noodle salad, potato and rice balls and pepper and tomato chutney. With the exception of the lentils, which I found were a bit floury and dry the rest was pretty good. The potato balls were very nice as was the satay - which was quite spicy. The noodle salad didn't have a huge amount of taste, but provided a good antidote to the spicyness of the satay, so I was glad it was there. The portions were ample and you had the choice of having it all served in a single bowl or in a prison/school dinner--style compartmentalised tray.

I didn't have room for a pudding, but they all looked rather tempting.

The staff were very good and had no problem with us waiting for a good half hour or so for another of our number to turn up, despite the fact that we were taking up one of their large tables. The prices are reasonable too. There are plenty of restaurants serving veggie food in St Kilda and Soul Mama is the only purely vegetarian restaurant I tried during my time there so I can't recommend it over anything else, but its definitely worth a go.

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