Solé Lacks Some Soul

23 07 2010

For those of you who don’t know me too well (not that I have much of an “outside” audience, but still) I can be a saver or a spender depending on the situation, and most of the time I try to be a saver.

So, after I had spent some hard-earned cash on a new haircut and colour because I just had to change the yellow streak in my hair to a fuschia streak, I was short a few and decided that instead of tipping my stylist friend in the boring, disconnected way of many, I would take her out for a light lunch instead.  We drove around town for a little while and settled on Solé.  They have their Summerlicious menu on right now but it was uninspiring so we decided to order off the seasonal menu.  I took one look and immediately decided on the “Slab of Iceberg” salad.  I mean, really, what could be cheaper than Iceberg Lettuce?!  And I was at Solé, so I wanted to know just what kind of chameleon act they could pull off.  I also knew I was going home to a lovely dinner consisting of fresh, cornmeal-crusted yellow perch with baby potatoes and asparagus so a salad was my only option anyway. 

Karma Karma Karma Chameleon

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find that no matter how much I wash Iceberg lettuce it tastes earthy, and not in a good way.  I doubt they even grow that stuff in actual earth anymore, but that specific taste just doesn’t seem to want to go away.  I was concerned but decided to go for it anyway.  Kudos to Solé for identifying that this was, in fact, the lowly Iceberg lettuce they were using in their upscale restaurant and double kudos for trying to make it exciting.  My stylist/dining companion decided to order the classic French salad: Niçoise. 

We sat outside under a giant overhang in a cordoned-off patio complete with a corner fountain to drown out any traffic sounds and chatter.  I thought this was a nice touch considering that they are located on a somewhat busy street.  Our waiter arrived and quickly introduced himself.  Then he started a strange little speech that began with: “Well, what can I say?  Our special is [insert slew of foodie words strung together and uttered too quickly to be understood followed by]…………and that’s about all I can think of to say….because there is nothing else to tell you!” (it was something to that effect complete with long, awkward pauses and body sway).  As my friend put it simply after we left the restaurant: he was clearly on his own planet.  It was strange and uncomfortable because little of what he said was in context with the situation but we shrugged and announced our orders.  We also asked for water to drink.  Waiter-on-his-own-Planet looked at us with partial disdain and walked away.  He arrived with water, some sliced multi-grain baguette, and what tasted and looked like a black currant jelly.  I am no farmer, but I am going to guess the jelly was supposed to be a seasonal accompaniment, however, I have always been under the impression that currants are late summer/early fall fruit…anyone happen to know?  It was a nice jelly but it didn’t match the bread since that had some savoury herbs thrown in and did nothing to complement the sweetness of the jelly.  In the end, I wasn’t sure what type of flavour they were going for but it didn’t work for me.  It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good.

After the appropriate waiting time, our salads arrived.  True to its name, the “Slab of Iceberg” was indeed that.  Said slab was topped with a red pepper dressing which was in turn topped with sprouts.  Surrounding the slab were four artichoke hearts (located on the north, east, south and west points of the giant plate) as well as about a dozen floppy beet “chips”.  My friends’ Salade Niçoise was deconstructed – a large Boston lettuce leaf surrounded by olives, green beans, a hard boiled egg and four grilled shrimp.  Although we thought the presentation of the salads was unique, the salads themselves weren’t very substantial.  That was fine by me, but hypothetically, if I had wanted to order that same salad for a light dinner (which I am apt to do at times) I would probably be quite hungry in the end.  The dressings for both salads were OK.  They weren’t out of a bottle but they weren’t especially exciting either.   All in all, the salads lacked any form of surprise that would make them special or different or even remind me of the fact that I was eating at Solé.  After we had eaten our greens, we peeked at the dessert menu but decided against any sugary goodness although they had a crème brulee trio that sounded appetizing.  Our waiter arrived to check on us when the meal arrived, during, and at the end of the meal as is customary, but we were weirded-out by him enough to keep any good-natured banter to a minimum.  In all honesty, we just didn’t want him to keep coming back to our table.

In the end, the food at Solé was fine.  It was definitely better than the average sports bar or chain eatery but on the other hand, it wasn’t memorable either.  I think food often reflects the mindset of the chef who makes it and when someone is passionate about their food, there is no mistaking it.  In this case, it appeared that passion had been replaced by apathy – but who cares?!

Passion leaving the body

Images courtesy of http://animal.discovery.com and www.yeatsvision.com

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4 responses

23 07 2010
Melissa

Hmmm…interesting. I have mostly heard good things about Sole, but those comments come from a small circle. I haven’t ever experienced them though. In regard to the ‘slab’ salad…first off, I too have a great disdain for iceburg lettuce. I made my family convert to boston when I was in highschool and had enough weight in household food decisions. Now, of course, we do the trendy spring mix or baby spinach. Back to my point. I have seen a few kinds of iceburg salads that have thrown me for a loop and wonder if this is one of them: was it literally a wedge of the head of lettuce with the garnishes on the side? I’ve never understood the appeal of that. If I am going to order a salad, I want it to be easily edible…

23 07 2010
ES

Yes, twas a wedge of iceberg lettuce…cringe!
But they tried, and it wasn’t horrid.

23 07 2010
Margaret

Currants are in season for a while now, in my mom’s backyard anyway… she’s already frozen jars and jars of them…

25 07 2010
Neil Moser

I feel that restaurants in KW are apathetic because the clientele is generally apathetic. A lot of people here like the idea of being swanky, but don’t really have expanded pallets (not only for food, but fashion, music, entertainment, etc). If the restaurant is expensive and relatively nice it gets a good name. I say, people need to be re-educated on what is quality, what is creative, what is really excellent.

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