We had a fantastic dinner at SO|LA Soho, which boasts the unique honor of being the only Michelin-starred American restaurant outside the US. This Californian restaurant (with plenty of Japanese influence!) in the heart of London was a small taste of home away from home.
The restaurant opened in 2019, right before the pandemic hit. Despite such a challenging environment, Sola Soho managed to achieve a Michelin star in 2021.
We began with these lovely gougeres filled with melted Vacherin cheese, fresh from the oven.
This next course was both visually stunning and also a delightful surprise to the palate.
Smoked salmon pieces layered on the bottom; cucumber snow, fresh cucumber broth, and a dollop of caviar on top.
In this three-part-series on salmon, the second part showcased two rolled up cylinders of thinly sliced smoked salmon wrapped around sweet potato strings and wasabi mayo. I found the smoked salmon to be just a tad salty. A third interpretation had a piece of smoked salmon covered with pistachio and cardamon. This was my least favorite, and I found the flavors to be a bit odd (confession: I'm not a huge fan of cardamon in general).
Hamachi with avocado sorbet, micro mushroom, edamame, and charred leeks.
It looks like a dessert, but it's not! Asparagus cream and almond cream
And then came the brioches, served with a cherry blossom "tree"!
Deja Vu Moment
This seared foie gras with crispy seaweed wrapped sushi rice reminded us so much of the signature dish at O Ya in Boston (which is a seared foie gras nigiri with balsamic chocolate kabayaki, raisin cocoa pulp).
We both agreed that the O Ya version was better (though this one was good too!).
SO|LA Soho has an excellent selection of American wines. We tried a pinot noir from Willamette Valley in Oregon.
A single "tortellini" served with a deep consomme.
The server then arrived with piece of lava rock topped with raw langoustines. "Swoosh swoosh" - he squirted whiskey onto the langoustine. All of a sudden, he lit a lighter and "whooosh", flames erupted and flickered around the langoustine. In a very short amount of time, we were able to enjoy "langoustine fired on a lava rock with whiskey".
Next, we had seared turbot with a yuzu kosho foam, caviar, beurre blanc, and leeks cooked in sake.
Pigeon with grilled peaches, pumpkin, and jus.
Pistachio ice cream, compressed melon, and pistachios.
A vanilla + melon soup that tasted like “solara” or “twister” (aka creamsicle), but they said “we aren’t allowed to describe it like that.”
This last chocolate dessert looked like it might be too sweet, but it was surprisingly balanced. We both really, really liked it!
Mignardises: marshmallow “s’more” (left), baba au rhum cake (right), and espelette pepper and mango flavored pate fruit (middle), which were quite spicy but delicious!
Railsback Frères, a very special and unique wine form Santa Maria, California, personally recommended by our server.
Sola Soho - California Japanese food in London - General Thoughts
Chef Victor Garvey is certainly very talented and I enjoyed our meal very much. His creativity and artistry show, and everything was executed at a very high level. I loved the Japanese + California influence. It was also fun to try their rare small producer US wines. The ambiance is casual and friendly, and we actually ended up chatting extensively with the people at the table next to us!
Here is a short video I made of our meal.