Yogurt Bowl at Soul Cafe
Yogurt Bowl (Esther Allweiss Ingber)

In-person dining resumes at kosher dairy eatery.

When news got out that Soul Cafe in West Bloomfield would reopen on April 12, their fanbase was ready.

I’m told that business was so good the first week, staff had to stop taking walk-ins on the following Sunday because the restaurant was fully booked. 

Rotated artwork brightens white walls in Soul Cafe’s airy dining room that has the feeling of a gallery. Large groups still gather at a high-top butcher-block table for 14. Fewer regular tables are available than before, spaced apart for pandemic safety. Outdoors, besides seating on the heated covered patio, another option are the two four-top tables placed inside clear medium-weight plastic structures with windows.

Pear Affair Salad at Soul Cafe
Pear Affair Salad Esther Allweiss Ingber

There are several cool things to say about Soul Cafe, located within the Farber Soul Center on Drake Road, nearly a mile north of the Jewish Community Center. One is that Soul Cafe offers tasty, imaginative food that also happens to be kosher dairy. Yes, “tasty” and “imaginative” do go with “kosher.”

 The upshot is that nearly everyone can feel confident ordering from the restaurant’s all-day breakfast and lunch menu. Accompanying meals, or to enjoy separately, are non-alcoholic beverages that include Chazzano Coffee Roasters, Starbucks Coffee, espresso drinks and smoothies.

Blackened Salmon Slider, Crispy Tofu Kabob and Fancy Toast
Blackened Salmon Slider, Crispy Tofu Kabob and Fancy Toast Esther Allweiss Ingber

The mission of the Farber Soul Center is also cool. A project of Friendship Circle, affiliated with Lubavitch of Michigan, the Soul Center provides an inclusive environment for adults with special needs. Clients receive guidance to create, and sometimes sell, fine arts they make in Soul Center’s Dresner Foundation Soul Studio. Interested individuals learn restaurant skills for pay at Soul Cafe, brainchild of Friendship Circle director and co-founder Bassie Shemtov.

Shemtov, married to Rabbi Levi Shemtov, oversees Soul Center. Shalom Shomer, director of kosher operations for Milk & Honey/Epic Kosher Catering, is general manager at Soul Cafe’s dairy kosher kitchen. The Council of Orthodox Rabbis provides supervision.

“We offer healthy, fresh kosher food for everyone in a warm, non-judgmental environment,” said Shemtov.

soup at Soul Cafe
Esther Allweiss Ingber | Detroit Jewish News

Soul Cafe welcomed back customers with a new menu. Chefs Kelly Ambrosi and Zebadiah Versele were wise, however, to keep the Ancient Grains Salad. My favorite dish features dates, caramelized shallots, sweet potato, quinoa, green apple, seeds, greens and silan vinaigrette. Try it with salmon on top. 

I again enjoyed salmon in Blackened Salmon Sliders, served inside pretzel buns. Chef Zeb is especially proud of their House Made Veggie Burger — brown rice and walnut patty, mushrooms, pickled red onion, spinach, chive aioli on a Dakota Bread challah bun. Friendship Circle’s purchase of the Dakota Bread bakery gives clients more job training opportunities. 

Fancy Toast with House Potatoes
Fancy Toast with House Potatoes Esther Allweiss Ingber

The surprising Polenta Squares had pickled mustard seeds that resemble couscous. Another winner is Fancy Toast, including ricotta cheese, poached pear slices, pomegranates, toasted hazelnuts, fresh thyme and honey drizzle on Dakota Bread Grains Galore.

Dinner service starts next month. Reserve now for a fixed-price, family-style Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday, May 9. 

Soul Cafe
at Friendship Circle’s Farber Soul Center
5586 Drake Road
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Phone: (248) 788-7400
friendshipcircle.org/soul
$$$½ out of $$$$$