at Solage Calistoga 755 Silverado Trail,
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.
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.
Forni-brown Green Salad with
white corn and cherry tomatoes
Good. Lettuces not absolutely pristine but very fresh, like they were actually grown somewhere.
Handmade Potato Gnocchiwith 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!
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.
Heirloom Tomato Sandwichwith 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 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.
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.
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.
You may notice that we do not give out a lot of praise. Having been to so many high-quality restaurants, it's pretty tough to impress us.
Most of our reviews are based on just one visit. We neither have the time nor the money (or often, the inclination) to visit most restaurants multiple times. So, please keep in mind that a single-visit review is a snapshot - the restaurant may be "on it" that day - or not. If the meal has a calamity involved (foreign objects in the food, wine poured on us, etc.) we try not to let it shade the overall review.
We pay for the food and beverages; restaurants never comp us. We try to be discreet about taking photos so that the staff doesn't notice/get an idea we're going to do a review. We rarely take notes in the restaurant.
Like the rest of our website, we update our restaurant review pages based upon subsequent visits.