Friday, June 18, 2010

Soul food

We ended up at Soul last Sunday night, and although the experience was lovely and the food tasty, you really need some context first:

For one, I had been trying to go to Soul for about two years. The problem is that they are only open from Wednesday to Sunday and for some reason every time I thought of going there, it was Monday or Tuesday. Or New Years. Or summer holidays. Whatever the case, our schedules could not align themselves.

Second, I had just written up Restaurant Week for Flanders Today (article here), a initiative whereby restaurants offer a three-course meal for 27 EUR. Soul was among the offerings. It was destiny.

Lastly, we were in Iceland on vacation until about 4 hours before the end of Restaurant Week. So it was Sunday night or bust. Also, having researched Icelandic food ahead of our trip and seeing that rotten shark and pickled testicles were among the culinary pleasures of our vacation destination, I figured a meal at a semi-vegetarian restaurant might be a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel sort of thing. (We did eat fish pretty much non-stop for 10 days and hardly saw a fresh vegetable all week - and the fish was great.)

So after years of preparation, articles written, and Iceland conquered, we found ourselves sitting in Soul last Sunday, exhausted and vegetable-deprived. Soul delivered.

As we were there for the Restaurant Week gig, we did not get to choose our menu. Apparently most Restaurant Week diners got fish in their menus but we had specified vegetarian, which they were happy to accommodate.

We started with a tower of beet slices, delicately cooked aubergine slices, and creamy cottage cheese. It was simple, beautiful, fresh, and delicious.

For our main course, we received a substantial serving of spiced lentils with bites of carrot and pumpkin, topped with three large chunks of tangy feta cheese, and surrounded by a half-dozen "falafel" balls. Although these were recognizable as falafel, they were only lightly fried, and the batter had grated carrot and various non-falafely spices mixed in. It was chic falafel, and we enjoyed it - I just don't want you thinking of your local halal shwarma bar when you envision this falafel.

Our dessert was poached pears with a bit of caramel sauce, just the light ending I needed. All in all, I don't think we scored any savings by going via Restaurant Week, which to me means that their menu is a bit overpriced, but I'm sure part of that can be chalked up to the setting.

Soul is a quiet and cute space steps away from the Sablon. Bare bulbs decorate the ceiling (they were kept quite dim but I assume in darker months the electric lighting is stronger). I felt super trendy and cozy eating there, and it definitely seemed that most of the other diners were there on date night.

Although we didn't get to choose, I still asked to see the menu. Soul offers a number of themed menus that do not appear on their website - there's menus tailored for pregnancy, for detoxing, and for various other states of mind and body. I'm not so into homeopathy, but I can at least verify that the dishes sound tasty. Their menu is also very vegetarian friendly. They call themselves a "bio organic fusion" restaurant; I just call it yummy.

Rue de la Samaritaine 20
Brussels 1000
Tel.: 02 513 52 13
Open for lunch Wed-Fri; open for dinner Wed-Sun. Reservations recommended.

No comments: