In napa for a spontaneous long weekend for our 20th Anniversary. Already did French Laundry and Per se on 3/4 Anniversaries in the past so we wanted a change. Didn't want to drop $700-900 on dinner for two, and given chef's background from FL and August in NOLA (we're also fans of John Besh) we decided to try solbar.
Clever, articulate and ornate food for sure, and well within value for price. Only complaint regarding the food is that the "hot" portion of the dungenness crab app was lukewarm at best, and the Nantucket scallops were cold. Likely due to the length of time it take to prepare these dishes, but if its cold, it's presentation is pointless- yes? Pork shoulder and chicken entrees were great and generous in portion size.
Our server Stephan was fine- courteous and competent- no pretension here as in some places this caliber.
However, Here's what will forever stop us from returning: When we made the resv we were offered only 5:30 and 9:30. We did call only the day before so no problem. We explained to the reservationists it was our 20th and wanted a nice leisurely meal- 5:30 was too early and she assured us that it would be no problem if we came at 9:30. So we did! When we sat, we also told Stephan we were looking for a relaxed meal and we asked if we had to worry about the kitchen closing- he politely said the kitchen closes when guests are finishing dining. Great!
We ordered 2 cocktails, and also had 2 bottles of wine. We sat at 9:35. Everything came fast- real fast. By 10:20 we were served the amusee bouche (fantastic item and presentation), 2 appetizers, a salad simultaneously ( this was a little upsetting- we had requested it as a mid course and Stephan said he would bring share plates but unfortunately it was squeezed in between our two other apps- was impossible to properly appreciate the 3 dishes simultaneously) and our two entrees. We complained about the pace when we received the apps and salad together, but it fell on deaf ears. Immediately upon clearing the app/salad dishes and with Stephan just opening the red wine and pouring it, there was the back waiter standing with our entrees. I hadnt even swallowed the first taste of the wine. All this in 45 minutes. Stephan noted our disappointment and a
Shortly a manager came by- we explained our discontent and he politely "thanked us for our feedback".
We rushed our entrees and left, declining a too little too late offer for cheese or dessert with their compliments. I'm pissed, the wife is crying, Happy Anniversary!
Been in the restaurant biz in manhattan all my life- just another case of the kitchen pushing out the food to go home. If the chef was in the kitchen at this time shame on him, if he wasn't he should fire the Sous. Either way it is inexcusable enough to never return- particularly in Napa, where good restaurants as as plentiful as good vineyards! Only McDonald's can get you in and out faster- and maybe by only a few minutes.
We've also dined at French Blue and Bouchon on this trip, and we highly recommend either for a special occasion. Food may be slightly less extravagant in presentation, but they are both exceptional places in every respect! Going to Bouchon again tonight!
If you own or manage Solbar - Solage Calistoga, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.