With wood panelling and the ubiquitous Edison light bulbs sitting in steampunk-style fittings, Soul Burger has all the trappings of a regular hipster burger joint.
The well-laid out menu presenting twelve different burgers is the first inkling you’ll get that they’re doing something different.
Yes, everything on this menu here is completely meat free! While the lack of external vegan signposting has given some Parramatta diners consternation, staff tell me most visitors are happy to chow down on a fully vegan burger.
Making two different selections from the plant-based burger range, we get settled on an outdoor table. Church Street is provides great people-watching fodder as we wait for our burgers.
First to arrive is the Southern Fried Chicken ($15). Speared with a knife for easy sharing, this burger certainly looks the part. It’s plump crumbed plant-based chicken patty is dripping with vegan cheese and sriracha aioli. Picking it up, it feels quite weighty. The buns are perhaps a bit thick and dense for my liking, and the patty, while moist, is a little flavourless.
It’s made to look like chicken with white rice flecked through it. I like the caramelised onion (though the burger could do with more of it) and the crunchy ‘slaw, though I doubt I’d be rushing back for another.
Chilli Beef ($14) to my eye is much better. The plant-based beef patty looks the part, and has a more robust flavour that’s closer to the real deal, enhanced by a bit of char. It is made from pea and soy proteins imported from America, to help ensure it feels like big, filling food. It’s held aloft by crisp lettuce and tomato, and topped with more sriracha mayo. and some jalapenos for heat. There’s also a vague hint of sundried tomato from the addition of tomato relish.
Overall it’s a satisfying bite that shows better balance than the chicken version, both in your mouth and when you look at it in cross-section. Teamed with a Vanilla Coconut Shake ($7) made from coconut-based ice cream churned in-house, this meal goes down nicely. The milk-free shake, served in an old-school tin cup, is delicious - one of the best plant-based shakes I’ve tried.
I’m hitting sriracha egg-free mayonnaise overload by the time I get to the Soul B Fries ($8) though I like their runny cheese drizzles. This could be poor ordering though on my part.
While this third store for owner Amit Tewari will definitely appeal to Parramatta’s vegan and vegetarian diners, I suspect visiting meat eaters will be surprised to find vegan burgers can be hip, tasty and avoid the usual too-healthy trap.
316 Church Street, Parramatta
Ph: (02) 9687 3569