It has been a few years since I have been to Soul Bistro, and I’m sure that in that time new owners have taken over the restaurant. It was entirely different on this visit. Previously, it was more generic western/european food, more typical fare like steak and pan-fried fish. Now, it is more fusion food.
The restaurant is in what is essentially a suburban shop pocket, next to a fish and chippery and a TAB. Most of the seating is in a sheltered outside area, although there is some limited seating indoors as well. There are food and drink offerings written up on blackboards near the entrance, which are different from ones listed in the menu, so it all seems quite information-busy when you first approach.
The menu lists weekday lunch offerings, tapas options (and different tapas combination deal options), main meal options, breakfast options, weekend brunch options, and dessert options. There are a lot of choices, and you will probably, as we did, find a number of competing things that appeal. The risk with a menu with so many options, and such diversity in them, is that you are inclined to wonder if they can actually do all those things well, or if it will all just turn out to be disappointingly mediocre. The Gordon Ramsey approach seems to be to have just a few items on the menu, but to do those excellently. He routinely tears apart extensive menus.
In this case, however, all the food we ordered turned out to be delicious.
The first dish we ordered was the satay caramel pork and giant scallops with kimchi aioli, chilli spiced ramen, and asian greens. They were indeed giant scallops. The scallops were perfectly cooked, still tender and juicy. The pork was also caramelised on the outside, without the meat being dried up on the inside. There was just a bit of crunch on the outside as well. The only things I didn’t like about the dish were that the noodles were a bit overcooked for my liking, so they were soft rather than springy, and that there was a bit too much chilli powder on it. Otherwise, it was a very tasty dish, and prettily presented as well.
The next thing we ordered was the Breakfast burger. This had double cooked belly pork baked with parmesan and fresh herbs, 2 fried eggs (with runny yolks), haloumi, apple and kale slaw, and pomegranate molasses on a Turkish roll. It was all held together with a rosemary sprig for a skewer. This, like many other hearty burgers, was difficult to eat without the ingredients escaping. The pork reminded me of the pork pieces you get in the Teochew stewed pork belly buns, thick chunks that were a bit fatty, with meat that pulled apart easily. The haloumi could have been fried a bit more. The fresh rosemary sprig added another layer of flavour and fragrance. Altogether, it was a great combination.
We debated over whether there was room for dessert, and which dessert to get after that. Smelling and hearing the dish that arrived at an adjacent table decided it. We had the sizzling chocolate and almond brownie, with butterscotch ice cream, macademia brittle, and chocolate fudge sauce. It all arrives on a hotplate, the chocolate sauce bubbling away. You get the aroma of cooking chocolate wafting towards you as it is set down. It is a clever multisensory presentation. As my eating companion suggested, it is like a reverse chocolate fondant, with the soft chocolate cake in the middle, and the sauce on the outside. A bit of warning though, the chocolate sauce is holds its heat and is kept hot by the hotplate, and you should wait for it to cool at least a little before diving in. The butterscotch ice cream adds a temperature contrast, and the praline adds crunch. It’s a dessert with a bit of everything.
The waitstaff were great. Warm, polite, efficient.. The only little lag, which I can’t really fault them for, was delay in us being able to get attention to order dessert because they were talking to another table of customers about a couple of the staff leaving to open another restaurant. (Flyers about this were placed on the tables, and the new venue is the Southside Bistro.. Will be planning to check it out.)
All in all, it was a good meal, and pleasant throughout. Worth revisiting.
Price point: Breakfast/Brunch/Main meals: $8-$26. Tapas items: $9-$14 for the smaller plates, $19 for larger plates, combo deals vary depending on how many of each you get. Desserts $10-$12.
Address: Shop 5/16 Baroona Road, Milton Queensland, Australia
Phone: (07) 3367 8188
Website: Soul Bistro