Goth burger for the soul? The new Soul Garden is full of surprises
If you ask Jignesh Pujara about the idea behind the new menu at the Soul Garden Bistro, he’ll say they now serve “food that Chennai has never tasted.” We glance at the menu: Buddha Bowls and BBQ Idlis. And we’re in for an adventure.
The all-vegetarian bistro has a new address, with their second branch at a revamped 1940s bungalow in Kilpauk, which once housed Ahavaa cafe. Jignesh, who calls himself a foodie, says the variety at the new outlet can’t be boxed into one cuisine; dishes from the Mediterranean to Vietnam to Madras. “But everything is healthy,” the owner says with a smile.
And our first dish definitely looks healthy. A Buddha Bowl: with thinly sliced red radishes, pretty pieces of cucumber and crunchy sprouts topped with a hot and sweet sauce, the cup of veggies is irresistible.
The outlet has also tried its hand at fusion. And their BBQ Idlis easily wins over our tastebuds. Who thought crispy pieces of idlis, drenched in BBQ sauce and topped with mayonnaise could taste this delicious? Another fusion creation, their Madras Pizza arrives — thin crust, topped with crunchy bits of masala vadai, dollops of onion chutney and fried curry leaves. Surprisingly, it works. “This has been a great hit here,” says Jignesh, who brought the American frozen yoghurt brand Menchie’s (now shut) to the city. But their Madras Burger, with activated-charcoal buns and a chickpea patty is not too impressive.
They’ve retained the charm of the bungalow, there are two massive mango trees in the compound, and there’s ample parking space. Under one of the trees is an outdoor dining area. “There’s space for everyone, including pets,” Jignesh adds. There’s also a new tandoori menu, Jignesh plans to add a keto and an exclusive vegan menu soon.
An earthenware shallow pot filled with a tomato-based gravy and covered with a conical lid arrives. “It’s a tajine, from the Mediterranean,” Jignesh shares. The rosemary-flavoured curry along with firm grains of couscous is smooth and tangy at the right places. The owner adds that some of the dishes in the new menu are authentic — “we’ve not tried fusion here,” he says. Another authentic dish, a Vietnamese pho is up next. Jasmine rice in a soy-sauce-based gravy with vegetables and paneer. It’s warm, subtle and the right bowl for your soul.
Scooby Stew, anyone?
Dishes created with the help of a vet for canine guests are vegetarian and salt-free with less sugar. We love the names: Scooby Stew, Puppy Pulao and Pumpkin Poodle. Your pets can also play with the in-house pup, a jumpy three-month-old labrador, Cookie. A sugar-free ice cream is on the cards as well soon.
At 86/59, New Avadi Road, Kilpauk. Meal for two Rs 800. Details: 4515-5433