Mercurial restaurateur Victor Garvey has relaunched his critically acclaimed tapas bar Rambla as SOLA, two years after arriving on Dean Street. SOLA’s USP is to meld Soho with Los Angeles and there’s a fittingly light and breezy look to the simply furnished corner spot, with linen textures and poured concrete flooring alongside subtle beachy touches of white pebbling and warm wooden panelling. Greenery lines the windows while spiky cacti hang from the ceiling, safely out of the way of pricking any customers.
The menu comprises both an à la carte offering and a 12-course degustation, which clocks in at £97. Oysters and squab pigeon were the two highlights of our meal. The oysters were dressed in a cocktail sauce sorbet of aged Tequila mignonette and a touch of chili that complemented rather than overwhelmed the fresh zing of the shellfish. The pigeon to follow, meanwhile, was superbly balanced with grilled plum, a rich carrot purée and peppery gravy.
Elsewhere, a sabayon and potato purée topped with sweet, crispy onions delicately served in an eggshell within a nest was a rich and promising start for the meal to follow. Sea bream sashimi came with a perky tomato sauce and slivers of watermelon which matched the fish for freshness.
Desserts continue the bold flavouring, with a theatrical display of satsuma and tonka bean buckwheat crêpes Suzette flambéed to perfection, paired nicely with a light, pistachio semifreddo. A bonsai tree with stunning decorated chocolates, dangling deceivingly as fruit, ends the meal on a fun note.
The only fish which failed to impress was a vadouvan lobster pot pie with cipollini onions, beurre noisette and Banyuls wine. We didn’t doubt the quality of the ingredients, but the overall effect seemed, when all was said and done, a bit like a boring pie.
Friendly staff are well-drilled on the components of each dish and happy to explain the intricacies of the menu. To drink, a selection of Californian wines includes famous names alongside more contemporary wineries such as Ferdinand in Lodi and Anthill Farms’ Dolcetto.
Overall, this portmanteau of Soho and LA is an intriguing take on Californian cuisine in the heart of one of London’s buzziest districts and gets the carefree, West Coast vibe spot on.