Food for your soul

The Guide visited a vegetarian buffet which impressed with its service but the food left much to desire

When a new restaurant in buffet-buzzing Pune claims it has a 'bigger, better' spread, you think how much more can you possibility eat? So, we braced ourselves and zoned in on a day when we were really hungry and visited Soul Kitch at Shivaji Nagar. They offer a vegetarian buffet with a twist -- you have a range of seven starters served at your table, a spread of salads at the buffet, mains chosen from a menu and desserts served at the 

Roasted Bell Pepper and Corn Soup, Continental Asparagus, Leek 
Crepe, Thai Spicy Curry with Burnt Garlic Fried Rice, Mango Mousse 
and Chocolate

Among the options for starters, we really enjoyed the simple-but-succulent Tandoori Gobi and the Hara Bhara Kebab that melts in your mouth. But, we didn't think much of the crispy onion rings or the Jamaican cottage cheese (which tasted like regular paneer). Among the soups, we enjoyed the Roasted Bell Pepper and Corn that had the consistency of a creamy, flavourful broth. It's perfect for a chilly Pune night.

Continental Asparagus. pics/ Pooja Wagh  

It was time to head to the salad bar. Here, they have a range of make-your-own-salad options as well as pre-prepared dainty dishes to choose from. We went with the set ones. The options were all fairly regular with a fresh roasted bell pepper salad, Indian spiced corn and Korean Kimchi as options. While the salads were a tad unimaginative, it was the Sushi that really let us down. Served topped with soya sauce and with not the best quality of wasabi, nori or ginger, it was depressing. 

It was time to choose the mains. The menu handed to us has three options -- Indian, Continental and Oriental. We opted for a Continental Asparagus and Leek Crepe, that was deliciously fragile and served with a side of mashed potatoes and buttered rice. It went well with the cheese sauce and made for a lovely full meal.

Next, we opted for a Thai Spicy Curry with Burnt Garlic Fried Rice. While the rice was efficiently done, the curry was a disaster. It was generously stuffed with vegetables but the base tasted like a Bengali mustard preparation gone awry.

Finally, we were stuffed and nothing from the dessert counter seemed to call out to us. But the really sweet attendant insisted we try some and brought along a plateful of options. The Mango Mousse transported us back to our childhood days of creamy heaven, while the Chocolate Mousse brought us back  to reality with its delicious adult taste.

We must say that the staff was extremely polite, willing to go the extra mile and warm. By the time we were ready to leave, the restaurant was filling up with large groups of families and friends. The city obviously lacks a vegetarian fine-dine option and this one seems to be touching hearts with their warmth. Would we go back? While the food ranged from good to average, thanks to the superlative service which is so hard to find in this city, we would have to say for sure.

At Near Pune Central, Shivaji Nagar.
Call 25662222
Soul Kitch didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals.

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