Moroccan Soup Bar @ 183 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North
8 September 2011
Moroccan Soup Bar has a loyal band of followers who often wax lyrically about how its dishes will please herbivores and carnivores alike. The absurd popularity of the place is exhibited by the fact that people can often be observed lining up on St Georges Road, patiently waiting for a table at the small establishment. Naturally, the dining room inside matches the buzz outside with a raucous and noisy atmosphere. As an environment in which to eat, it is a place that you either love or hate. In any case, the litmus test would come with the food – we ordered Moroccan Soup Bar’s celebrated $20 banquet.
To kick-start the meal, we were served an assortment of dips alongside a substantial plate of pita bread. The selection included items such as yoghurt, hummus, eggplant, beetroot and olives, all of which were tasty in their own right, with the exception of the olives which possessed repugnantly bitter and sour elements.
Rhapsodised by many as being a dish that would appease even the most carnivorous palates, the time had arrived to sample Moroccan Soup Bar’s signature dish, the chickpea bake. The dish essentially consisted of large quantities of yoghurt dispersed with pita bread crisps, chickpeas and almond slivers. It was an unpretentious creation that was particularly memorable for its addictive bread crisps, but even more so for its unbridled and excessive use of heavy yoghurt. Unbalanced and one dimensional, I was left baffled by how such a dish could attract such laudatory reviews.
The second main dish contained stewed carrots and zucchini atop a couscous base. Mundane in taste, the inadequacy of this dish was further heightened by the presence of overly soft vegetables and overcooked couscous – it could pass for baby food. For a dish of such simplicity, one would expect more than substandard execution of this kind when paying for a meal.
The final savoury dish contained two rice variants accompanied by lentils and what appears to be Moroccan Soup Bar’s ingredient of preference, its home-made yoghurt. The lentils were, despite being flavoured with agreeable spices, crying out for salt. Being overwhelmed by the consumption of yoghurt by this stage, the dish remained largely untouched as a serve of yoghurt and rice was simply not an option.
For dessert, we shared a filo pastry sweet containing an unknown filling. If we were to forgive the less than pleasant taste that permeated the pastry, a taste which can be likened to that of uncovered food that has been heavily exposed to bad fridge smell, we would have enjoyed a sweeter end to the meal.
Given the $20 price tag, Moroccan Soup Bar deserves credit for the variety of its dishes and its liberal servings. However, symbolic of the quality of our meal, many of our dishes remained unfinished – a very rare occurrence for us. To be fair, we are not vegetarians and so we arrived not expecting the greatest of meals. That said, we remain as qualified as anyone to comment on the flavours exhibited, including by the persistent use of yoghurt, which was pleasant at first but unwelcome by the end – after the meal I had yearnings for anything devoid of that heavy and subtly tart element. For vegetarians, I would be hard pressed to recommend any alternatives at the price but for omnivores, I would suggest that you look elsewhere – quantity does not necessarily equate to value.
Rating: 1/5 (Very Poor)