The beautiful and attractive range of Soul Café items makes the decision difficult.
ODuring my recent visit to Soul Café in West Bloomfield, the blueberry ricotta pizza I sampled – a mouth-watering homemade crust topped with sweetened whipped ricotta cheese, blueberry coulis and random mint shreds – reminded me that eating kosher can be quite innovative.
“Dinners responded well to our survey of their favorite new dishes on our Spring/Summer menu,” said Shalom Shomer, Director of Operations. My pizza was #1. Tim Maraj, the restaurant’s executive chef since August 2019, contributed to the seasonal menu. Maraj, who previously ran Novi Chophouse, said cooking at Soul Café, a kosher dairy restaurant, is “definitely a change” but one he enjoys.
The Greater Detroit Board of Orthodox Rabbis provides kosher oversight at Soul Café. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday through Friday. The restaurant is inside the Farber Soul Center, a facility that extends the programming offered by Friendship Circle of Michigan, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Lubavitch of Michigan.
Young adults with special needs, at the center of Friendship Circle, find an inclusive environment at the Soul Center. Customers receive guidance in creating, and sometimes selling, the arts and crafts they make at the Soul Center’s Dresner Foundation Soul Studio. Another option for young adults is vocational training, including paid employment. They learn the restaurant trades at Soul Café or the baking trade at the Dakota Bread-Friendship Circle on Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield. Friendship Circle purchased the popular Jewish gourmet bakery in October 2020 from its outgoing owners. Vocational training is currently being offered to “15 Soul Center clients, with 21 others on a waiting list,” Shomer said.
Bassie Shemtov is executive director of the Friendship Circle, founded in 1994 with her husband, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, and eight volunteers. She oversees Soul Center and with Shomer, Soul Café.
“We provide healthy, fresh kosher food for everyone in a warm, non-judgmental environment,” Bassie said.
New on the menu
New breakfast-style items on the Soul Café menu include the Smoked Fish Plate; Crêpe stuffed with smoked salmon, scrambled egg, spinach, mushrooms and feta; and a colorful breakfast bowl. I went with everything offered in the bowl except the poached egg (a personal dislike). Otherwise, I enjoyed the assortment of crumbly coconut “bacon”, red cabbage, sliced avocado, spinach, homemade potato cubes and rainbow carrot ribbons , as well as a tasty pesto of kale and walnuts. Newly introduced sweet choices are Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and Cinnamon Sugar French Toast Sticks.
The “Lunch Starters” list includes a new cheese platter and my next pick: General Tso’s Cauliflower Bites. The lightly breaded and lightly spiced pieces were served with an Asian style dipping sauce. New salads to try include Ginger Garden, Greek and Power Bowl, including grilled tofu.
Under “Sandwiches,” diners can now choose Mahi Taco — two corn tortillas filled with savory chunks of fish and a savory lime cilantro salad, pico de gallo and salsa verde. I really liked these. Pesto and Cajun Salmon Alfredo are the new pastas this season.
Dessert eaters may want to add soft serve ice cream in flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and both in a swirl.
Side meals, or to be enjoyed separately, are non-alcoholic beverages that include Chazzano coffee roasters, Starbucks coffee, espresso drinks, and smoothies.
Note that Soul Café keeps the most popular items on its changing menus. My favorite, the Ancient Grain Salad, has dates, apples, caramelized onions, sweet potato, quinoa, seeds and greens, with a silan (sweet date syrup) dressing. For more complexity, add an optional avocado, salmon and/or tuna salad.
The beautiful and attractive range of Soul Café items makes the decision difficult. After ordering, food and drinks can be enjoyed in the main white dining room bedroom. Rotating artwork by Soul Studio artists gives the airy space the feeling of a gallery. In addition to the regular tables, up to 12 diners can gather at a high communal table towards the back wall. A separate carpeted room handles overflow dining, typically on busy Sundays, and can be rented out for business meetings, bridal showers, and other events.
For those who want to get some fresh air this summer, the Soul Café also offers to sit on its large covered terrace.
soul cafee at the Friendship Circle’s Farber Soul Center
5586 Drake Road
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
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