Chef's Blog

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

Solage Calistoga – Solbar Restaurant, Calistoga, California

Dec 09, 2009 16:03 – By: Nancy D. Brown 

From Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip

Solage Calistoga's Solbar Restaurant
Solage Calistoga’s Solbar Restaurant

 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? At Solage Calistoga’s Solbar restaurant, there is no doubt that Lily’s Eggs came first. In fact, Lily’s Eggs are so popular in this Napa Valley town that they have their own Facebook Fan page, as does Solage Calistoga.

Chef Brandon Sharp invited me to dine at Solbar as a guest of the resort and boy, howdy was I impressed. This is not your lackluster typical hotel restaurant. In fact, Solbar is so hot it was recently awarded one star from the Michelin guide.

The Solbar menu is divided in half with the left side offering healthy, lighter dishes, while the right side offers hearty cuisine that lets you forget you are dining at a spa-centered, wine country resort.

While I sometimes think of healthy dining as lacking in flavor and substance, this was not the case at Solbar. The fall squash veloute was a flavorful soup accented with sage leaves and granny smith apples. The thin crusted mushroom and gruyere pizza, topped with maitake mushrooms and caramelized onions made a nice starter. You could easily make a meal, as I did, of several first course dishes at Solbar.

house-made ricotta agnolotti at Solbar
house-made ricotta agnolotti at Solbar

 

If you appreciate house-made pasta, order the ricotta agnolotti served with wild mushrooms and two-year-old parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Trust me; you will not be disappointed. So what’s up with a crispy poached Lily Egg, served alongside frisee, bacon lardons, minced local herbs and topped with a bacon vinaigrette? This is a hand sell item from the wait staff, but once you try it, you’ll be back for seconds of this all organic, local rock star. Just try it!

Sous Chef Gustavo Rios was in the kitchen the night that I dined at Solbar. Rumor has it that Executive Chef Brandon Sharp works to support his staff and lets their special plates shine through.  Chef Sharp is so modest that his name doesn’t even appear on the menu. His creative touches shine through in the pasilla chile rubbed pork cheek tacos with lime and cream fraiche. Even the picky eater in the group will enjoy the sliders, stacked with bacon, cheddar and onions on a fresh baked pain au lait bun.

While I didn’t get around to sampling the Lucky Pig house special; a slow-roasted shoulder of long and bailey duroc pork, served with black sesame crepes, pickled pineapple, mongolian peanuts and lettuce cups, I did save room for dessert.

Right in step with the holiday season, try the Spice Cake with caramelized apple, poached quince and house-made caramel sauce. Chocolate lovers will fall hard for the Valrhona Chocolate Marquise with a salted almond creme anglaise. For those of you who have tried the house made donuts at Carneros Inn’s Boon Fly Cafe, order the Solbar donuts – they are sinfully addicting.

Photos courtesy of Nancy D. Brown

Solbar at Solage Calistoga (707) 226-0850

755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga, CA 94515

Leave a Reply