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Sola

64 Dean Street, London, W1D 4QQ, United Kingdom

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Sola is in the heart of Soho, a small dining room with a tasting menu format. I have reviewed Sola several times, so for background on the chef/owner etc see my previous reviews. The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2021. 

The Californian wine list had 68 labels and ranged in price from £45 to £1,105, with a median price of £102 and an average markup to retail price of 2.9 times, which is quite fair for central London. Sample references were Channing Daughters Scuttlehole Chardonnay 2019 at £53 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £18, Ferdinand Garnacha Blanc 2020 at £74 compared to its retail price of £21, and Sandhi Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills 2020 at £90 for a wine that will set you back £40 in the high street. For those with the means there was the lovely Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 at £695 compared to its retail price of £282, and Kongsgaard The Fimasaurus 2012 at £885 for a wine whose current market value is £296.

This meal began with warm Parmesan gougeres, neatly piped out, featuring light choux pastry and having plenty of cheese flavour (18/20). Salmon terrine came with dill and buttermilk dashi, and cucumber snow. This canape didn’t work so well for me, the cold cucumber slightly overshadowing the salmon (15/20). Cured salmon with salsa verde and pistachio was better, the salmon itself having very good flavour and the pistachio working nicely with the fish (16/20). I really enjoyed salmon roulade using the same wild Pacific salmon, wrapped around sweet potato, radish and wasabi mayonnaise. The wasabi, made with real freshly grated wasabi root, brought just the right level of gentle spice to liven up the dish without dominating it (17/20). 

Raw hamachi (amberjack) was served with avocado sorbet, poached leeks, and a tapioca and leek dressing. The fish itself was lovely and the avocado was an interesting flavour contrast, while the quite subdued dressing allowed the excellent fish to shine (17/20). This was followed by foie gras from a high-grade Paris supplier called Lafitte that originated in the Landes, the real home of foie gras in France, and dates back to 1920. The liver was shaped into a quenelle and coated in a shiny cherry glaze layer. A textural contrast was provided by toasted brown rice, and sweet brioche bread decorated with cherry blossom was served on the side. The foie gras was silky in texture and the touch of cherry provided some balance to the richness of the liver. This was accompanied by a nigiri with sushi rice topped with foie gras, which was an interesting touch (17/20).

A signature dish here is Scottish langoustine flambeed briefly and accompanied by a ginger dashi and wild mushroom broth in which rested a foie grass dumpling, and confit quail egg. The langoustines were large and sweet and lovely, but the dashi was a particular joy, beautifully balanced and a fine pairing for the shellfish (19/20). 

The last savoury course was A4 Matsusaku wagyu, served with a sweetbread made into a terrine then fried with barbecue sauce, black garlic and shiso with espuma of succotash (essentially broken corn kernels with beans). Matsusaka beef is the most prized in all of Japan, produced in the Mie prefecture, south of Kyoto. It is less famous internationally than the beef of Kobe yet is pricier. The A4 has slightly less marbling than the A5 but I have always preferred A4 to A5, the latter tasting to me just a little too buttery, whereas the A4 has a delicate beef flavour. Such a product is best left to speak for itself, and this was lovely, with the sweetbread a nice complement and the succotash providing some earthy balance (17/20).

Pre dessert was calamansi (a citrus fruit from the Philippines), a sort of cross between kumquat and orange. The fruit came with compressed melon, mint, pistachio ice cream and melon and vanilla soup. This was light and refreshing, which is what you want from a pre-dessert (16/20). The main dessert was richer: a pretty set of linked chocolate rings in which were assorted spheres including 74% Valhrona Millot chocolate, passion fruit and peanuts with caramel. This was an attractive and appealing dish (17/20). For petit fours there was a mini rum baba, a gram cracker and also mango pate de fruit with lime and espelette pepper.

Service was good, with a helpful new female sommelier Tara Ozols. The bill came to £160 per person in total. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a more typical cost per person might be around £170. Sola continues to deliver appealing and well executed dishes based around genuinely top-quality ingredients. Ingredient quality here is higher than most multi-starred London restaurants.

Further reviews: 18th Dec 2021 | 06th Aug 2021 | 21st May 2021 | 22nd Aug 2020 | 24th Jan 2020 | 26th Nov 2019

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