Soul food, food for the soul

As a food-lover, the name of the restaurant I visited this week could not be more seductive: Soul Food. Located in beautiful Valletta and easy to find on Merchants Street, it promises fresh, healthy and homemade Italian dishes.

I was on tiptoe – friends and colleagues spoke highly of this place but I wanted to see it for myself. We were walking along the street and there is no possibility to miss this place. I could not overlook the fact that Soul Food is run with dedication. The lovely outside decoration is fresh and welcoming. Still, it’s a really small place, but that might give it its charm.

The place itself is two indoor dining areas, so we had 3 choices: either sit outside on one of the 2 small tables or go inside, where the kitchen, till and a few small tables were placed, or, which is the option we took, up to the first floor, where we found a lovely decorated room and 4 tables. 3 of which were full.

The furniture was probably from IKEA or second-hand (nobody knows for sure) but the looks was shabby-chic way. I could see flowers here and there and some framed images. I liked it, since I’m always curious to glance around and find new inspiration for my digs.

The menu showed a wide variety as well as the possibility to order vegetarian, vegan and also gluten-free dishes.

imageA freshly made apple, lemon and ginger smoothie cooled me down while I decided for a gluten-free bread vegan burger made of chickpeas, served with tomatoes, onions, red cabbage, fresh salad and mustard sauce plus brie as an extra on the burger. Because I ordered gluten-free bread, the cook came to give me information about the gluten ingredients in the chickpea patties. I appreciated the fact that the staff is concerned enough about their guests to take time and talk to them and look for alternatives.

Although I was happy that a gluten-free alternative was available, it seemed that the bread was not homemade (as I thought it would be) and it was not exactly a burger, but a baguette. I could taste the well-known gluten-bread flavour and was a little bit disappointed, because even I know recipes for really good bread. But I wasn’t there to only judge the bread – so: the dish was presented nicely and they put a great amount of the fresh ingredients. I particularly liked the mustard sauce, which was light and tasty.

My friend had the sesame salad, which was something totally new to both of us. It contained the usual salad ingredients: green salad, sauce tahini, black olives, goats cheese and sesame seeds. But the special ingredient none of us has ever used in a salad before was rice cakes. Nevertheless, my friend did not finish her plate. It was just too much lettuce. Note to restaurants, salads can be exciting and should not be just lettuce!

Soul Food also offers cakes and sweets. So we decided to choose little vegan chocolate balls (one with nuts, the other with coconut) for our way home. How can something so small be so unbelievably delicious and substantial. You only need one of those to fill you up after a meal, I can tell you!

After my visit to Soul Food, I talked to some of my friends about my experience. They assured that it’s the greatest place in Valletta for vegetarians and vegans and that I should try it again. Even my friend, who was with me that day and has been there before, said that sometimes you just chose the wrong dish out of a menu.
Well, we will see next time!

Monique Chambers

Monique started indulge in 2011 and has since created Indulge Me GIFT and Indulge Me FOOD and volume 1 of The Artists Directory - Malta. A marketing professional by trade, Monique's passion is to promote local talent and Malta in general. Free time is her biggest indulgence, when she can tinker in her craft room or the kitchen, or be selfish with a book, the sofa and good glass of wine (of course, wearing something beautiful and with freshly coiffed hair!)

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