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

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Sola is a regular haunt of mine, so please see my earlier reviews for the background of the restaurant, the head chef and a discussion of the wine list. This particular meal was just a month or so since my last visit so there was an understandable overlap of dishes, but with several different offerings too.

A sequence of canapes began with warm Cheddar gougeres with a liquid cheese centre, garnished with bresaola made using top-notch A4 grade Kagoshima Japanese beef. Miniature cornets flavoured with red pepper contained sorbet of Bloody Mary, confit cherry tomatoes, tomato water and freeze-dried Blood Mary cocktail. This canape works particularly well, due in large part to the high-quality Provence tomatoes used (preserved in late summer but still tasting just fine now). Wild salmon roulade used Pacific salmon filled with escabeche made using Roscoff onions, crisp sweet potato and freshly grated wasabi root. The wild salmon flavour is far superior to the tasteless farmed salmon that we have sadly grown used to in recent years. Smoked Alsace bacon jam tartlet also featured pickled cherry and white port gastrique, topped with shaved foie gras snow. The pastry was delicate and the liver flavour came through without the richness of a slab of foie gras. The last canape was a little taco flavoured with shiso and spinach, containing beef tartare of 28-day aged Hereford beef, smoked eel and grilled bone marrow dressing, balanced by a spicy Japanese citrus dressing called kabosu koshō. The canape was completed with Isigny crème fraiche from Normandy and aged Kaluga caviar from suppler N25. This was a really enjoyable take on the beef tartare classic, the bring caviar and Japanese dressing acting as seasoning for the beef (easily 17/20 canapes on average).

A very prettily presented dish of akami lean tuna followed. The finest tuna in terms of flavour is bluefin but this prized creature has serious sustainability issues due to overfishing. The bluefin tuna used here is farmed sustainably in Spain, so you can enjoy the flavour without any guilt. The slices of tuna came with a tartare of belly tuna and a salad of leaves, spring onions, grilled baby leeks, toasted kinako, avocado sorbet, pickled shimeji mushrooms and tosazu jelly, all with a leek tapioca vinaigrette. There is a lot going on in this dish, but the other elements have been carefully chosen to balance the natural richness of the gorgeous tuna, and the overall effect is a joy to eat (18/20). 

Flambeed langoustine is a regular and welcome visitor to the menu here, the large shellfish briefly flamed and then served briefly on hot rocks, accompanied by a really lovely Asian broth. For me a large langoustine is really one of the finest ingredients, and I think this particular dashi broth goes particularly well with the natural sweetness of the shellfish (19/20). 

Morel pillows is a classic dish of Michel Guerard, and tonight there was a direct homage to this dish. Ravioli of preserved morels were served with preserved white asparagus and mousseron mushrooms along with baby artichokes, all resting in a foam made from 24-month aged Parmesan and further preserved morels, given a luxurious touch by the addition of black truffle. This was very enjoyable, though for me the mushrooms could have been cooked just a little longer, and the sauce could have been just a bit more intense. It is tricky to reproduce such as iconic dish, though this was certainly a very capable facsimile (16/20). 

The French very wisely eat capon at Christmas rather than turkey. Tonight, we indulged in a top-notch capon from France, the breast stuffed with truffled capon mousse and then wrapped in caul fat and roasted. This was served with a supreme sauce made with yuzu koshō (a Japanese fermented condiment made with yuzu peel, salt and dried chilli) in place of the traditional lemon, the sauce enriched by diced cardoons. The dish was finished with pickled walnut gelee and deep-fried gnocchi Parisienne (made with choux pastry). This was a lovely dish that showed a lot of skill. Capon can easily dry out but this was lovely and had excellent flavour, the truffles really lifting the dish and the pickled walnuts providing a nice contrasting texture (17/20).

The final dish was hare royale, a very rich classic dish that days several days to make. Braised hare, pork knuckle and morteau sausage are shaped into a ballotine, the meat soaked in red wine before cooking. The hare was from Beauce in northern France, an area noted for its high-quality hare (and also, by coincidence, maple syrup). The meat was served in a pate of foie gras in blackcurrant gelee, a fluid gel of blackcurrant vinegar, pickled girolles, fresh black currants and a sauce Perigourdine flavoured with mulberries and thickened with hare blood. Sauce Perigourdine is a variant of Perigueux sauce, with slices of truffles rather than chopped truffles. It is a beautifully rich sauce based on a demi-glace finished with madeira and of course the Perigord truffles that give the sauce its name. Hare royale is a rich dish, the version here given much needed balance by the acidity of the black currants and the vinegar from the pickled mushrooms. This was a lovely, indulgent dish, the hare having deep flavour and the sauce lovely intensity (strong 18/20).

The transition from savoury to dessert was marked by a cheese course where a pastry croustade was filled with Livarot cheese, aged balsamic vinegar and Cevennes onion jam, all topped with shaved black truffle. This was an interesting alternative to the traditional cheese board, with the combination of flavours inside the little croustade harmonious (16/20). 

The first dessert was both cremeux and sorbet of blackberry, accompanied by Isigny crème fraiche, chamomile bavarois and a little sansho pepper with a garnish of sansho pepper leaves. The dish was completed by crisp blackberry croquanter and sansho meringue with a pool of blackberry coulis. The acidity of the fruit cut through the crème fraiche and was enjoyably refreshing, with the gentle hint of the numbing sansho pepper adding an exotic touch. For me, the pepper could actually have come across a little more, but I am big fan of sansho pepper (17/20). 

The final dessert was a richer one of chocolate and coffee. Chocolate mousse used 80% Red Mayan chocolate, and this was accompanied by a crème diplomat made with Panama Gesha coffee, hazelnut praline and a crunchy base of puffed rice with milk chocolate glaze. Finally, there were cubes of coffee jelly. This is an excellent dessert, the crunchy base contrasting with the smooth mousse and with the hazelnuts providing some relief from the richness of the classic coffee and chocolate flavours (17/20).

Coffee was from Difference Coffee, accompanied by little boxes of excellent petit fours. Service was excellent and the bill came to £187 per person. Given the high-quality ingredients here and the seemingly relentless hiking of London restaurant bills in 2022 this does not seem that high a bill. Sola is a very welcoming restaurant that serves appealing dishes using the very best luxury ingredients. It is a relaxing venue in which to indulge in genuinely fine food and be very well looked after.

Trade reservation

Further reviews: 20th Dec 2023 | 10th Mar 2023 | 28th Oct 2022 | 26th Aug 2022 | 04th May 2022 | 18th Dec 2021 | 06th Aug 2021 | 21st May 2021 | 22nd Aug 2020 | 24th Jan 2020 | 26th Nov 2019

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