Passable neo-Californian cuisine

With a beautiful setting in the heart of Napa Valley, Solbar has a lot going for it. Unfortunately, the food is a little less exciting than one might hope for.

Anyone coming to Napa Valley will undoubtedly be captivated by the beautiful landscape, the wines and last, but not least the food. One of the restaurants that could only exist in this very place is Solbar at Solage in Calistoga. With its relaxed atmosphere, it offers a good compromise between fine dining, and a more casual restaurant.

It is a unique experience to have dinner by the side of the pool of the hotel, being able to drink from a large selection of interesting wines by the glass and letting time go by. The service here is friendly, warm and makes sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. No wonder, this is a hit with local winemakers.

Food-wise, Solbar is a solid restaurant. Compared with others of this calibre, the food here is unashamedly American. Take a corn soup for instance, which whilst being tasty is a little on the sweet side. Whilst this is appealing for a few spoonfuls, it makes it difficult to finish the rather substantial portion of this starter.

Much more convincing is Snake River farms beef that comes grilled with a delicious jus. The meat, of undeniably beautiful quality, cooked perfectly rare and bursts with flavour. Whilst the garnishes only make the dish more interesting, this is the sort of plate of food, in which the meat could easily stand on its own.

Given the slightly unstable cooking here, it seems fair that Solbar does not get more than one Michelin star. As some dishes clearly show, this is a brigade that can cook and manages to create a unique dining experience in one of the most beautiful hotels in the Valley.


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