Posted on Jun 25, 2012 | 8 comments
It’s been over a month since I hit the town for a gal’s night out, but I broke the dry spell last week with an evening of small plates at Soul Gastrolounge in Plaza Midwood. Located at the corner of Central and Pecan, Soul occupies the top floor of an old brick walkup. Outside, you’ll find a mid-sized seating balcony, which offers a prime vantage point for people watching.
The “gastrolounge” concept was new to me, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Soul. We arrived around 7pm on a Monday evening, and the place was surprisingly poppin’. Table seating is pretty limited, so we opted to nab seats at the bar where we were brought glasses of water garnished with slices of cucumber. It was especially refreshing given how hot it has been in Charlotte lately.
The “lounge” component of the gastrolounge concept was very apparent–much of the restaurant space was occupied with eclectic armchairs and sofas, perfect for conversation but questionable for dining (especially if you’re a messy eater like me). Besides the décor, I absolutely loved the music selection. I found myself blurting “I love this song!!” every few minutes.
The “gastro” component undoubtedly stems from the word “gastronomy,” the art of good eating. Soul might specialize in small plates, but their menu is anything but small. Offerings includes a variety of cheese plates, dips, salads, sandwiches, skewers, and sushi, not to mention caviar, bone marrow, and bull testicles. You heard me.
Vanessa and I decided to split four plates between the two of us.
Every person has their own heat scale for judging spiciness, and this cheese ranked pretty mild on mine. Even without the heat, the feta was addicting. What cheese plate isn’t? The pita chips that accompanied the cheese were pretty hard–next time I’d opt for grilled pita instead.
Plate two: Salmon-o-pita
These little bites of phyllo were stuff with smoked salmon, chevre, cream cheese, and chives. Sadly, they were heavy on the phyllo, light on the filling, and quite blase. The candied onion relish garnishing the plate was interesting and sour on my tongue, but it wasn’t enough oomph.
Plate three: roasted garlic pesto flatbread
This was my absolute favorite plate of the evening. After one bite, Vanessa and I both paused and looked at each other in a silent moment of “wow.” The roasted garlic cloves were so sweet—at first bite I actually thought they were bits of fig. I will absolutely get this on my next visit..
Dish four: The Soul Roll
Quite a few people recommended this roll to me, so I had to give it a try. Spicy salmon, cucumber, and jalapeño filled the roll, which was topped with wasabi aioli, chili and spicy mayo sauce. The roll was surprisingly large and was light on the rice, so I could really taste the fillings and sauce and feel the texture.
For dessert, we split a scoop of the Vietnamese coffee ice cream:
Having worked in a creamery for nearly 7 years, I am a self-declared ice cream snob, so it’s really no surprise I wasn’t excited by this scoop. My chief requirement of ice cream is a smooth creamy consistency, and this scoop was chock full of small ice crystals, which greatly detract from the flavor.
Overall, Soul had awesome energy and an intriguing menu, which our server was happy to help us navigate. Four small plates split between the two of us was plenty of food. I’ll definitely be returning to Soul soon, for the flatbread, of course, but also to try the cubanini, fried goat cheese bruschetta, and chocolate espresso butter cream cupcake!
Be sure to follow Soul Gastrolounge on Twitter where they post the daily specials!