Restaurant Review - Sept. 28, 2007 - Joanne

Patio at Solbar
Solbar

at Solage Calistoga
755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga, CA

July 17, 2007 - Lunch

Note: Solbar had only been open for five days on our visit so keep that in mind when reading our review.

This restaurant at the new Solage "resort" doesn't have a lot of street appeal. Perhaps it's because Solage itself is composed of little ranch-style cottages set side-by-side. But on a closer look (especially at the interior), the modern/contemporary style/feel is well done in shades of lime and chocolate.

The full size palm trees, shiny bicycles, bocce courts, willow twig accents and outdoor lounge seating with big pillows set the stage. The decor of Solbar reminds me slightly of Press in St. Helena, a large airy room with light walls and dark furniture with exotic wood grains and a decidedly modern feel. From the hip hugging pants of the staff to the sleek Gloster woven furniture, the word boutique leaps to mind.


The left side of the menu is spa style food and the right side is heavier fare. There is a definitely an interest by Chef Brandon Sharp in seasonal and local choices, we were pleased to see. We found the food to be quite a surprise - it was well crafted and the menu was well thought-out. The staff we encountered were attentive and well trained.

The patio is a pleasant place to have lunch - it is almost poolside. (Guests of the hotel can be served poolside.) The food was good enough to recommend to friends looking for an oasis near the town of Calistoga. I'm not sure it will be a serious dinner spot, but we hope to get back and see. They also serve breakfast.

Flatbread with Three Sauces
Hearth-baked Sea Salt Flatbread
Served with 3 sauces. A salsa verde of pureed herbs, a tzatziki sauce with thin slices of cucumber and a piquillo pepper olive tapenade. All were worth our time to taste. The flatbread itself was soft and crispy in the right places.


Salad at Solbar
Forni-brown Green Salad with white corn and cherry tomatoes
Good. Lettuces not absolutely pristine but very fresh, like they were actually grown somewhere.

Gnocchi

Handmade Potato Gnocchi with summer vegetables, local herbs and hobb's pancetta
A small serving of divinely light and fluffly little dumplings in a butter based sauce with white corn, hunks of pancetta, crisp haricot verts, cherry tomatoes and an odd addition of shell beans which strangely worked in the succotash style sauce. Exceeded my benchmark and I'm still vividly recalling the dish. Recommended!

Shrimp Salad

Gulf Shrimp and Vegetable Salad with water chestnuts, fennel and orange-ginger vinaigrette
Nice crispy romaine leaves and well cooked plump shrimp in a very pleasant gingery slightly sweet dressing.

BLT at Solbar

Heirloom Tomato Sandwich with bacon and Avocado on toasted sourdough
A traditional style BLT with slices of heirloom tomatoes and avocado. The bacon is quite a smokey style. The bread was more slightly thicker cut than usual. I did not think the tomatoes were the star, but they were thick slices of heirloom tomatoes. The sandwiches come with salad or solfries, which are a spiced french fry. We chose plain fries and while nothing special they were crispy. We asked for ketchup which came in a single size Heinz (non-organic) bottle - we hope to find housemade ketchup later in the year?

Striped Bass at Solbar
Striped Bass with Ratatouille
A nice piece of striped bass. Jack was not fond of the ratatouille but it's really not something he likes in general - so not a statement on the preparation.
Solbar at Solage Calistoga

Cocktail
The Brasilian Cocktail
Really limey. No trace of rum found - unbalanced. Not that pleasant. Would try something else next time. Cocktail List


Wine List:
A good start that is heavy on Napa wines. Over time, we hope the list will become sophisticated and interesting.

Chocolate Pudding
Chocolate Pudding
A rich heavy mousse style with really good chocolate flavor. Topped with broiled marshmallows and housemade graham crackers. A nice play on smores. Really really good. The remains.



Menu at Solage Solbar

Dessert Menu at Solbar

Kids Menu at Solbar - Solage Calistoga

Bicycles at Solbar - Solage calistoga



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