Soul Gastrolounge is a problem.

It’s been where it is, at the corner of Central & Pecan for years. I’ve been eating there fairly regularly for an equal number of years. But for some yet-unexplained reason, I’ve eaten there about 5 times in the past two weeks. It’s taking a major toll on my bank account and my dreams of fitting into a banana skirt by Halloween.

There’s not really a point in reviewing Soul per se; nearly everyone I know eats there on the regular and the food and drinks are always consistently good (try the X-rated cocktail).? What’s been driving me across town at odd hours of the day and night are their nightly specials, which tend to be a total departure from their regular menu fare in content but deliciously, not in style.

I was too busy eating most of the time to take pictures, or remember exactly what I was eating, for that matter. Here’s a selection. If you see them, get them.

September 22: Fresh NC white shrimp w/coconut – coconut fried shrimp, toasted fresh coconut, coconut cream and coconut air $10 / Wild NC clams w/ creamed local white corn, sauteed chorizo, boiled baby red potatoes, and toast points $9 / Piquillo pepper glazed lamb meatballs w/ shaved manchego $8 / Fresh herb hummus / Peach cream filled vanilla cupcake w/blueberry cream cheese frosting.

These were good. Nothing particularly special, not that different from the lamb skewers regularly on the menu. I ordered this to go so I didn’t get the full effect of the shaved manchego (it was packed in a side cup and ended up melting together, so I had to spread it over each meatball myself. Rather awkward.)

September 24: Crispy duck confit w/sauteed foie gras & spiced apples, black mission fig compote, garlic honey, toast points $15 / Marinated hanger steak w/candied piquillo pepper relish & manchego cheese $9 / Pear salad: 4 varieties of pear w/arugula, smoked almonds, danish blue cheese, croutons & pork belly cracklins $8 / Wild NC clams w/creamed local corn, sauteed chorizo, baby red bliss potatoes & garlic toast points $9 / Mixed olive hummus / Salted caramel cupcake w/brown sugar whipped cream

Good. God. This was a lot to deal with. The duck confit was great although it could have been served hotter from the kitchen. This was my first time tasting foie gras and it was surprisingly good. I still had to eat it with something to get over the psychological block of what it is, but the flavors blended together well, even with the pear salad. I couldn’t quite tell the croutons from the cracklins in the pear salad… so I guess I liked them all.

September 27: Cream cheese & scallion flatbread w/smoked trout, smoked salmon pickled red onion & arugula salad $8 / Blue crab dip fritters w/sweet garlic aioli $9 / Classic hummus / Peanut butter cupcake w/Concord grape frosting

Technically I didn’t have this, but I’ve had this flatbread without the trout before. It’s a very rich dish– if you don’t LOVE the taste of onions (red and/or green) request that the kitchen keep it light. It make a nice brunch. You’ll want to swish your mouth out before hitting the club though.

October 3: Teriyaki duck steamed buns with marinated cucumbers $7/ Three potato flat bread with roasted potato medley, bbq bacon, chipotle cheese base, white cheddar, green onions and sour cream./ Mediterranean olive hummus $6 /Spiced pear cupcake with brown sugar cream cheese icing.

(I had hummus for lunch, so I almost pulled a full monty. I also took home some short ribs.)

The steamed buns were so unexpected and so delicious. The duck was perfectly crispy, just right with the soft doughy buns. The flatbread was basically a little potato-bacon pizza… and yes, BBQ bacon HAPPENS. IT HAPPENS. The “grown and sexy” cupcake was just that: the cake wasn’t quite as sweet as a regular cupcake and the icing was more flavorful than sugary. Definitely a “grownup” dessert. This was a filling enough dinner for one; I could only finish two slices of flatbread.