Chef's Blog

Solage Calistoga's Executive Chef Brandon Sharp shares his passion for cooking, life and all things Napa Valley.

During a day of what seemed like endless 5-yards sprints, overripe plaintains that turned to mush when I fried them, and a freak May hailstorm that nearly ruined two wedding ceremonies, we decided to update the lounge menu to the tune of SIX new items. Changing that many dishes on Saturday afternoon: gonzo cooking, another instance of learning to fly while falling, just like John Besh pulled almost every weekend and I swore I’d never inflict on my own kitchen.  (But I have a short and selective memory, as anyone to whom I’ve promised a free meal or a raise will tell you.)

So here’s the lineup:

softshell crab po’boy (dressed and best west of Tchoupitoulas)

char siu bao, our steamed pork buns made with mesquite-smoked pork shoulder

asparagus tempura, replacing the baby fava beans that are now too tough to eat whole

pork pie our swineophile pizza with bacon, smoked ham, pepperoni, and sage-garlic sausage

sea bass and scotch bonnet pepper ceviche with avocado and patacones, which are twice-fried green plaintains–cut and cook them once, smack them with the bottom of a bottle of Imperial (at least when you’re on the beach at Manzanillo), then fry them again at high temperature

salmon rillettes with a hot homemade pretzel and pickles

I think six is plenty of reasons to drink Champagne.

Also on tonight’s menu but currently SOLD OUT:

black pepper pappardelle with hugebutter-poached morels, red wine braised lamb shank, sweet peas, and creme fraiche, a surprise hit that turned out a lot better than I thought it would.

monterey bay sardines with fava bean stuffing, chorizo, and preserved lemon, Ryder’s new dish that pulls off four or five full-flavored somersaults, and only in the Bay Area can you sell out of sardines.

And added by Zach to the solbar lunch menu:

snake river farms flatiron steak salad with chili-lime vinaigrette, chiccharones, jicama, and avocado puree

three bean salad with fresh marjoram, tomato confit, and bibb lettuce

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the babyback ribs are back on there as well.

Cheers to Ryan Fancher and Barndiva for Thursday’s three-star review!

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