Marmalade and Soul opened at the start of the year in a former scruffy pub in a bit of a backwater location in between but apart from the busy Brunswick St and Queens Parade strips. The food is a mixture of the modern and the retro, and the current offer of 3 courses for $60 is a tempting offer.
I met a friend there for dinner recently and this is what we ate. For entrees, smoked eel with cauliflower and eel jus and ancient grains salad. I loved the eel and my friend liked her salad, which was tart with pomegranate seeds.
The choice of mains was difficult, with obvious favourites competing for attention with an eccentric curiosity in the form of a modern take on the pie floater, a ham hock pie with delicious thick pastry on a bed of carrots and peas with potato mash. Naturally I chose this and it was very satisfying.
My friend chose barramundi with prawns and spinach, and a glass of white wine. I’d started with a good Heathcote shiraz and followed this with a reasonable South Australian grenache shiraz mourvedre blend. The wine list by the glass is the weakest part of the menu, and could do with some improvement.
The desserts are also interesting. My friend chose the baked pineapple cake and I the black forest bar with apricots and vanilla icecream. It’s dense, rich and addictive.
Marmalade and Soul has received mixed reviews for breakfast and lunch, though there seems to be some goodwill as some diners are willing to try it again. I haven’t seen any other dinner reviews (I believe dinner was not initially offered when it opened).
The service was good throughout until the end when, having asked for the bill, we waited for an unnecessary amount of time for our card to be collected and waited again to complete the transaction. Once we’d finished our excellent single origin coffees we seemingly became invisible.
While enjoyable, Marmalade and Soul is not at the same level of sophistication as competitors like Albert St, Gorski and Jones, Hell of the North or Merricote in terms of food. At around the same cost, the value of Marmalade and Soul is questionable. Like my recent dinner at Bramble and Vine in North Carlton, I enjoyed my meal even though I think the offering could be improved.