Who needs gravy when you have orange honey butter? This citrus twist acted as wing man in America’s answer to chips and salsa. An immediate call for cheddar cheese biscuits ($4) threw a hot ball of chive ridden dough in our grabby mitts before our hunger led to any dire dining decisions. Another pre-meal munching was the Sonoma goat cheese and squash spread ($5) whose buttery tang was only upstaged by the cornmeal fried delights that Solace referred to as “crackers”.
Appetizers opened with a thick, potent Caesar ($6.50) boldly grabbing Romaine’s whole leaf contours. Chewy croutons were soon forgiven for their true bread backgrounds (no pre-cut, box brand here) and as I find it nearly impossible to run across a decent Caesar, I was satisfied. Tender skillet shrimp ($7.50) had a strong side when it came to seasoning, but pearls of chili grit wisdom softened the blow with an unusual “Southern risotto” smoothness that occurs when grits are prepared correctly. Sweet potato fries* (SPF*) ($5) were hailed my new favorite snack as I gorged on fingers of candy, fried starch contrasted by the pungency of the blue cheese/ buttermilk dressing.
Macaroni and cheese ($10.50) made a headlining debut in entrees (with co-stars bacon and charred tomatoes as part of their entourage) and we enjoyed every creamy crescendo. Unfortunately, sour notes were hit with non-contenders (or “non-content-ers”) in the entrée arena. One companion wrestled with a cinnamon brined pork chop ( $15.25) that was one tough customer, while my chicken and dumplings ($13.50)longed for more simmer time and the usual "stick to your rib" thickness associated with the dish. Maine lobster and artichoke potpie with homemade, fennel infused crust ($15.75) sounded too good to be true since my east coast roots constantly have me longing for “the claw”, but there wasn’t much luck finding claw meat and when I did it was a bit rubbery. The crust was homemade and flaky, but wasn’t enough to save the dish.
Amazingly enough, my favorite mainstay of the meal was their burger ($8.75) – Brandt Farms ground chuck married with a marinade that would surely provide many years of happiness to many loyal customers- white cheddar and sautéed onions further ensured this happy union and I was already taking mental notes of all the lunches I would schedule here for the same price as fast food (not to mention it came with SPF*).
Desserts (all $6) ensnared us in a chocolate vice with the “warm and gooey chocolate cake” oozing cocoa lava from its porous shell. On the tart side, we puckered then perked to key lime pie accompanied by a butter cookie reminiscent of my grandmother’s baking (with the addition of a clean, citrus finish).We weren’t brave enough to test Solace’s baked apple soaked in black cherry soda atop French toast- yet.
I would suggest sticking to appetizers, sandwiches and desserts for a taste of everything under $10 (not to mention a corking fee of $10 for two bottles- unheard of!)