We had a wonderful meal at Sola last night - and I had to wonder why I don't see more mention of it on this board. We thought the food was excellent - definitely better than Spring (admitedly, it's a different style). Great food, great service, great room - it rang all the right bells.
We started with three appetizers (because we couldn't decide on just two): the artichoke fritters, the lobster-shitake potstickers, and the confit of duck salad. The fritters were simply deep fried artichoke hearts - it was the sublte sauces that accompanied them that made the dish. The potstickers were delicious - napped in a sauce that was slightly spicy and sweet - not at all overdone. The confit salad included confit, endive, lardoons and baby salad greens. It reminded us of a wonderful cressinade we had in Paris years ago.
For entrees we had lamb chops stuffed with a cheese that I heard as "carzembola" (though I think I have that wrong), and mahi-mahi with purple sticky rice, fried plantain slices and a curry sauce. Both dishes were excellent - the lamb chops were served with an accompaniment that may have been polenta (sorry - can't recall - all I remember is that it was delicious). The fish was fresh, perfectly cooked, and perfectly complimented by the sides. My only disappointment was with the Mai Tai's we ordered - too pure. I guess we like hokey Mai Tai's full of goopy syrup better. But the wine selections were excellent. We split a very good dessert, but I can't now remember what it was, because by then I'd had two of the disappointing Mai Tai's (guess they weren't that bad), and a very nice Moscato d'Asti.
The Tribune had described their style of cooking as "Hawaiian surfer-girl," which put me off at first. Now, having been there, I think the description is snide. There is nothing surfer-girlish about this food. I also at first thought it sounded a lot like Roy's, which we like a lot. I asked my husband, "Can this kind of food possibly be done better than Roy's does it?" Well, it can, and it was. Not only that, but the ambiance is very nice, a cleanly designed modern space (noisy, like most trendy places are, but not overly so - and this is a point we're picky about). We did sit in the raised area to the right of the entrance, and I'd recommend it, as it's sheltered from the din of the main space.
The service was also excellent - at least from our waiter, Nicholas, who brought drinks promptly, and was easily available throughout the meal (I don't need a waiter constantly hovering, but I do like to able to catch his eye when we need him).
We loved Sola, and can't wait to go back. The place was packed (people even sitting outside, though the night was quite chilly), so a lot of folks must agree. I'd like to hear other Chowhound's opinions about it.
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