Restaurant Review – Who knew Moroccans were so indie?

Posted on May 30, 2010

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The Moroccan Soup Bar

Where? 183 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North 3068 VIC

Prices? Entree: $10, Mains: $10.50, Dessert: $2

Phone (03) 9482 4240

Hours? Dinner Tues-Sun 6pm-10pm

Payment Cash Only

This week Clare and I visited the ‘Moroccan Soup Bar’ near her house in Fitzroy.  I had heard great things about the place and its traditional North African, vegetarian cuisine so I thought I should try it out.

The restaurant is in a quiet strip on St Georges Rd, just up from the Caltex and a few doors down from Gurkhas Kitchen (another great restaurant for Nepalese food.)

I had read that you were unable to make a booking for groups less than six, so at seven o’clock when our tummies were rumbling, we thought we’d try our luck at getting a table.  It was a Wednesday night after all, how many people go out for Moroccan on a Wednesday night?

A LOT…apparently.

The restaurant was packed and when we asked for a table for two, the Moroccan waitress wrote our names down on paper napkin and told us it would be a 45 minute wait!  That’s right, 45 minutes.

I can’t understand why they don’t take bookings over the phone because when you get there, you essentially make a booking on a paper napkin?  The restaurant certainly seemed traditionally Moroccan in that respect.  The hustle and bustle and the mayhem of waiting customers did seem to resemble what I can only imagine a Moroccan market is like.

Ordinarily I would never wait this long for a table, but having been excited all week about the prospects of eating vegetarian Moroccan and the fact that this style of restaurant fits my blog perfectly, this saw Clare and I wander cold and hungry, back to the car to wait.

Clearly the night was not off to a good start, and by the time we were finally seated, we were so ravaged I’d have eaten anything and thought it tasted good.

Putting that aside, we ordered the $18 a head (super cheap) ‘banquet’ and were promptly presented with a deliciously sweet mint tea and a platter of assorted dips and bread.  The dish actually reminded me of a Moroccan style antipasto misto (mixed anitpasto) and essentially, that’s what it was.

The dips were a variation of a Morrocan style humus and tzatziki, and although full of garlic (which I’m not that partial to), were delicious.  Olives accompanied the dips as well as a potato salad and some sort of crunchy garlic dip which was scrumptious atop warm mountain bread.

Because we were STARVING, we foolishly guts our selves on the dip and bread and were consequently disheartened when a gigantic serve of vegies, couscous and chickpea and almond salad followed.

All the mains were yummy but due to the nature of traditional Moroccan food ie- stodgy couscous and rice, we were full after only managing to eat about a third of the main between us.

The food was certainly traditional, healthy and vegetarian consisting of many grains, vegetables and nuts and nearly made me forget that we had waited so long, though contrary to the name, there was no actual soup on the menu.

We finished the meal with a strong Moroccan coffee and scrummy little sweet that resembled something like African baclava.  However, drinking an espresso at 10 at night, probably wasn’t a great idea, but all part of the experience I suppose.

The restaurant itself is bedecked with Moroccan brass brick a brack, hand painted tagines and shishas.  If you had a group of about 8-10 people, you could even be lucky enough to sit by the window on beautifully decorated Moroccan cushioned chairs and rugs.

The thing that stood out most for me about this restaurant was not necessarily the food or the long wait, but the hoards of skinny, vegetarian, alternative, artsy type (aka indies) coming in and ordering takeaway.

Keeping with the hobo, natural, vegetarian theme this restaurant has going for it, those familiar with the takeaway method brought their own Tupperware, dropped it off and seemed to return just as the food came out in their containers.

If you can get past the idea of not being able to book and being made to wait, I would actually recommend this place because, to me, it represents the Melbourne dining experience to a T.  That is, not always being conventional and embracing other nationalities, exactly as they are which results in a dining experience true to that culture.

I give the Moroccan Soup Bar a stunning (as in I’m stunned) 3/5.

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