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Satisfaction increased

Satisfaction Feast, the long-feted downtown vegetarian restaurant, moves to new digs in the north-north end.

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Satisfaction Feast is as near as a restaurant can come to sacrosanct in the Halifax food scene. On the go for over 20 years, recipient of numerous awards and accolades, and in possession of a philosophy that runs deeper than "feed people, make money," Satisfaction Feast is a legend.

So my visit is a little self-indulgent; after all, with a track record and resume like that, who's going to care what I think about the place? The truth is, I'm curious. I'm not a vegetarian---I'm a dedicated omnivore with a definite carnivorous side, but I want to know if the Feast will be satisfactory to my tastes. I take along my sister, an avid fan of meat-free cuisine; being somewhat new to town, she's never been to Satisfaction Feast but eager to give it a try.

Satisfaction Feast is in an open, airy space painted a pale yellow with a water fountain in one corner. It's restful and serene. We sit close to the partially open kitchen, and I'm impressed with what I can see.

The menu is small, with some specials that change regularly (burger of the day, curry of the day), but a broad choice. We choose the curry dinner, plus a samosa, and a portobello wrap with the soup of the day. Because my sister is torn between the wrap and roast vegetables and tofu, we get an order of that to go as well.The restaurant is busy, so when the food is ready, the cook helps bring it to our table. Both meals are presented very elegantly yet cleanly---no homestyle plates here. The curry (spinach and chickpea) is full of flavour, hot, but not overly so, and is delicious. A small bowl of red lentil soup (dahl), a pile of nutty, perfectly prepared brown rice, mango chutney and na'an bread round out the plate. I'm disappointed in the na'an, which looks suspiciously like wedges of pita bread and not na'an, but everything else is exceptionally good. The samosa on the side is huge---almost a meal in itself.

The wrap has my sister drooling copiously, and I have to agree that it's delicious, made even more so by the garlicky aioli that's used as an amazing spread. The portobello's naturally meaty, earthy taste stands up to the strong spread and bitter greens used in the wrap.

The soup of the day is the only jarring note for both of us. It's broccoli and potato, and is served chunky, not as a puree. But it's not the texture that throws us off; it's the unnatural tinned flavour of the broth, which tastes harshly like canned beef broth, of all things. That's the only truly dissonant note of the meal though. We try to forget our disappointment and then move onto dessert.

A smooth, rich tofu cheesecake is lovely, if a little overbaked; we also love the sesame coated carob balls, the flavour of which my sister likens to an Oh Henry! bar, and I agree. Carob can be disappointing; this is not.

As for the take-out roast veggies, tofu and rice---I'm eating these right now as I type my review. The sweet potato, gingered tofu and sharp shredded red cabbage work harmoniously together to make music on my somewhat jaded palate.

I'm glad I experienced Satisfaction Feast for myself, but I don't think I'll ever think of it as a "vegetarian restaurant;" that seems to restrict it to some sort of niche market. The aptly named Satisfaction Feast is an excellent, casual restaurant that serves fabulous food and just happens to be meat-free.

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