Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gourmet-light at Soleado

Note that Soleado has closed down :-(

In the continuing saga of "Gard's testing out places to eat in Stavanger" we have reached the small tapas restaurant Soleado. I visited this in the middle of June and I figured that it would be worth trying after the place got a very positive review in the local newspaper a few weeks back.

Soleado is located right in the middle of to the cinema and library in the place called Sølvberget. It is a pretty small place and in the past I have had the impression that there has been focus on the bar...but now it seems like they are focusing on the food. We arrived at about 8 PM and I was planning to have a Kir Royal as usual...but unfortunately they didn't have the stuff needed so I ended up having sparkling wine instead. We had an English speaking guest with us so it was disappointing to find that the menu was only in Norwegian. But I translated the menu together with the waitress so it was not a big problem. We went for the 8 course dinner that cost 469 kroner per person (about 80$). While we were waiting to get started we got a bit of snack...almonds, homemade chips, aioli, misc bread, big and excellent green olives etc. Make sure that you don't get full before the first course arrives :-)

First course was salt marinated mackerel with apple and apple foam. It was a strange combination but as I have mentioned before it is nice to get exciting combination and this worked out pretty good in a strange way. We also ordered wine to go along with the food. I was hoping to get different wines for each course but this did not seem to be possible. So we bought a bottle of white wine to start with and a red wine later on.

Back to the meal...the second dish was marinated raw shrimp with mustard flowers! I'm not that fond of raw seafood and I didn't really think this dish was that good. But there were some exciting flavors from the flowers...and you don't get flowers for dinner every day (literary speaking of course).

Next dish was crab ”cornet” with mango and avocado. When we got the dish we were a bit uncertain about the meal. We got to bowls of lentils and it were 6 little cones. It turned out that there were 2 cones each and the lentils were not to be eaten :-) The small crab cones were quite tasty and the combination of crab and mango/avocado was exciting.

We were now ready for the main meals. The first was halibut with cauliflower, capers and a lovely sauce. I also think there was some mashed potato underneath the fish. The white fish was excellent and the sauce was to die for....I don't think they used any diet margarine in this sauce :-)

The highlight of the evening for me came with the next dish...veal meat with bread and a foam of some sort. The meat was just unbelievable tender and the dark glazing on the meat was beyond excellent. We continued with more meat in the next course....chicken with ecological mashed carrot. The chicken was OK but when it was served after the highlight of the evening it didn't quite stand the test.

The next dish was just served in a tiny bottle with a straw....limonchello Soleado. I guess it was just lemon lemonade :-) The first real dessert was cardamom cream with rhubarb jam. I guess the cream was just standard egg cream with some cardamom added and it was lovely. And I was also surprised by the rhubarb childhood memory of rhubarb is that it was always very sour. We ended the evening with foam of coco with "fried" pine apple and cinnamon crumbles. The pineapple was "fried" at the table by our waitress by pouring flaming cognac over the pineapple.

Conclusion: Soleado is informal compared to some of the best restaurants in Stavanger (like NB Sørensen, Jans Mat og Vinhus etc) . But this 8 course menu was exciting and had some nice highlights :-) But it would have been even better if we had gotten different wines for the different food. So if you want a nice evening with some exciting food and combinations that you didn't know was possible, you should try Soleado...I can recommended. I guess I'll call it gourmet-light :-)
The meal ended up costing about ca 2500 kroner (about 410$) for the 3 of us. It was the two bottles of wine that drove up the price :-(

Gard - trip reports and pictures

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Not totally convinced by City Bistro

It is not always easy to get a table on short notice in Stavanger. I noticed that when I tried to book a table for a Thursday evening and I started calling on Thursday afternoon. But when I called City Bistro it was not a problem getting a table. In my impression City Bistro is first of all a good choice near Christmas when they serve stuff like smalahove (see this pictures) and lutefisk (cod in lye…don’t ask). The place is located a bit outside Stavanger so it is not a place that you just run into…but it is only like 10 minutes walk outside downtown Stavanger.

We went there at about 7 pm and the place was empty when we came there. I had a Kir Royal as usual to start with and all the others joined in as most had not tried it before. The Kir Royal was very good by the way…I should have paid attention to the champagne that was being used.

We decided to go for the pre-set 4 course menu…aka “Asparagus menu”. Each year when the asparagus are on the market they make a big fuzz about this at City Bistro. I have never really had a thing for asparagus so I had really never had the urge to visit the place due to this. Before we got the first dish we got a small appetizer. We got a soup and can you take a wild guess which soup? Asparagus of course :-) The soup was good and it was great to get started as we were getting hungry. The first dish we got was scallops, creamed chevre and asparagus. Scallops are pretty standard at restaurants and to be honest I’m getting a bit tired of this as a starter. Before I continue I also have to mention that I had just come home from Thailand when I went to City Bistro and I was coming down with a cold and I was a bit jetlagged so maybe this is influencing this review. The menu that we got had 4 wine recommendations but we got another wine. The young lady that had served us Kir Royal in the bar was also the waitress and she was very quiet and she had a hard time getting the attention when presenting the wine.

The next dish was trout served with asparagus flan, vanilla and lemongrass sauce. The trout was good but I have to admit that it was a bit strange to get this flan as a side dish. But it OK and I guess it is good to get some unusual combinations from time to time. The main dish of the evening was chicken breast with white asparagus, potatoes and truffle hollandaise. The main dish was a bit larger compared to the main dish you get when you have a 7/8 course dinner. The chicken was good.

I guess the strangest dish of the evening was the dessert. This was the asparagus menu so the dessert was asparagus ice cream with liquorish syrup, strawberry and rhubarb salad. The ice cream didn’t taste that much asparagus but at least it sounded very exotic. The food was 565 Kroner (95$) per person and the wine package was 375 Kroner per person(60$).

Conclusion: I think I was influenced by my cold because this was not a very exciting meal in my opinion. Or maybe my taste buds were still in shock after having lots of good food in Thailand :-). City Bistro is not in the same league as places like Jans, Craigs, NB Sørensen etc but I will probably try it out again in the future…at least towards Christmas time when I can get smalahove.

Gard - trip reports and pictures