There are some restaurants in Melbourne who's popularity just speaks for themselves. Moroccan Soup Bar is one of those places. It was difficult to go there expecting anything less than amazing, wholesome, good value food considering the masses that flock there every evening to the point where at 8.30 on a weeknight it can be a one hour wait for a table. Yes, another one of Melbourne's finest 'no booking' policy restaurants!
Luckily, on this particular Tuesday evening, my good old friend from high school and I managed to score a table as soon as we walked in at 6.45. It was definitely a bit of a fluke though, as many others after us got told a mega wait! We sat there for a while chatting and sipping on some Moroccan mint tea before we started to wonder where the menu was. When we enquired with the friendly waitress, she informed us it was actually a verbal menu! Instead of having her list every item, we just decided to go straight off with the $20 a head banquet and try a bit of everything.
The dip platter with warm pieces of heated pita bread had HEAPS of variety and everything tasted fresh, flavorsome and home-made. We didn't get given an actual rundown of the dips, but my palate suggested that it was some kind of spicy capsicum, a hummus, a garlic yogurt, a broccoli dip and a cauliflower dip along with some pickled carrots, potatoes and olives. Heaps of variety compared to your standard trio of dips and plenty of bread. I particularly enjoyed the broccoli and cauliflower ones as they had a lovely texture and were very different.
The mains included a big plate of sides with a lentil type curry, two different types of rice and a big pile of yummy yogurt. It was very generous servings and we definitely did not get through it! Once again, it was nice to have so much variety and to try so many different things.
One of the mains was a big bowl of what seemed to be Moroccan roasted vegetables on couscous. I'm not sure how needed the couscous was considering how many sides we already had? But it was a yummy dish regardless and it was nice and comforting to just have a pile of roast vegies where the vegetables themselves were really the stars of the dish! Simple, wholesome style food.
The highlight of the whole meal was the big bowl of some kind of chickpea bake. This absolutely rocked- I would go back just to order this one dish. I am not sure exactly what it was, but it incorporated beautifully textured chickpeas, crunchy pieces of pita and almonds in a yogurty-creamy sauce with lots of herbs and spices! I never knew something so simple could taste so good and I could not stop eating this. Definitely the kind of dish that could impress even your biggest carnivore.
We left some of our mains and then managed to somehow squeeze in half of a turkish delight donut and half a piece of baklava into our swollen stomachs, chased down with some more of the beautiful Moroccan mint tea. The desserts were probably the only part of the meal I wasn't hugely impressed with, as they seemed a little stale like they had been sitting there for a while. Definitely not as fresh as the rest of the meal anyway. We were so full that we barely noticed anyway!
There is so much to love about Moroccan Soup Bar. It is one of those places where the vibe and atmosphere speaks for itself, and add to that wholesome, healthy, amazing value food and friendly staff and you know you are onto an absolute winner. Only problem? Getting a table at the actual restaurant so you can experience all of the above. Hopefully you will be as lucky as I was- or alternatively, take some Tupperware containers and they will fill it up for you as takeaway. I plan on trekking out there this school holidays and asking them to fill me up a container of yummy chickpeas! A great place for either a vegetarian or a carnivore having a healthy vegie night to go. You definitely come out feeling nourished!