Those of you who have been following my blog know that I recently was in Minneapolis on a business trip. It was my first visit to this city, and I would love to go back. My hotel was in walking distance to a number of great restaurants in the heart of downtown and I was able to dine at four great ones while I was there: two for lunch, two for dinner.
A couple of the places that I have already reviewed – Crave and Zelo - I stumbled upon on my own. I found Hell’s Kitchen, also reviewed earlier, on the Internet and my hotel staff whole heartedly gave it their blessing. This final restaurant review is on Solera, which a colleague (and fellow foodie) highly recommended at a meeting my last day in Minneapolis. I am so glad I took her advice – a fantastic way to end my trip!
Solera (900 Hennepin Ave) is cheerful on the outside and that spills over to the inside as well. I decided to start at the rooftop bar- why not, my meetings were over! Even though it was overcast, it was still pleasant up there.
If you peeked through a few of the buildings facing out from the left of the bar, you could see a sliver of Target Field, home of the Twins. From the right, you could see Crave’s rooftop bar. The background music was some techno dance mix, which was cool. One of the bartenders told me that on Sundays during the summer, Solera and Crave throw big parties and have music blasting and are packed – quite a fun and festive scene! (*Note to self – go back in the summer on a Sunday.)
I ordered one of Solera’s specialties – the signature sangria ($12.00.) Cocktails are only served in plastic cups (ick) on the rooftop, some type of city ordinance I’m sure. This sangria was good. It was made with Castano, Courvoisier and Lazzaroni, topped with Coca-Cola and small bits of orange and green apples. I must admit I prefer my own sangria, but I wouldn’t turn this one down. The service was good and the bartenders were nice.
I went downstairs after finishing my sangria to order some dinner. I wound up sitting at the bar, which I often do when I’m dining alone, especially when I’m out of town. Usually the bartenders are friendly and I learn more about the city I’m visiting.
Upon Graham’s (the bartender) recommendation, I ordered a glass of the Codorniu Brut Rosé from Spain ($8.00). It was refreshing and had nice strawberry and cherry flavors. I love bubbly, and will occasionally switch to a less traditionally rosé every now and then. This one did not disappoint.
Solera is known for its tapas, but also offers platos fuertes (main entrees) with choices of fish, chicken, steak and paella. I decided to sample some of the tapas, and started with the piquillo peppers ($5.00) These had herbed goat’s milk cheese and spicy garlic butter. The combination of the flavors exploded in my mouth. Yum!
Again on Graham’s advice, I ordered the beluga lentils ($7.00), mainly because I was intrigued by the combination of ingredients. It came with a poached farm egg, frisée, truffle oil and grilled bread and was excellent! This was my favorite of the three tapas I tried. OMG – the egg was perfectly cooked and it was just a wonderful symphony of flavors throughout the dish. Get this if you go. Seriously. Get this.
Lastly, I got the Tortilla Espanola ($5.00), which came with roasted shallots, potato, arugula and manchego aioli. This had a wonderful texture and was quite tasty! It would be great as a breakfast/brunch entree.
While I was eating my tapas, I noticed Graham making what looked like a mojito, but saw him adding white wine as the base. When I asked what he was making, he replied it was Solera’s S&M sangria ($9.00), which consisted of Verdejo (a white wine from Spain’s Rueda region), strawberry and mint. So, for all purposes, it is a mojito disguised as sangria, or visa versa.
Of course I had to try one, especially since I love mojitos and sangria, as mentioned in my earlier posts on both of these drinks. Okay, I have to admit I liked the name of the drink, and bonded with it well. It was wonderful – light and refreshing – another re-create at home as soon as my mint starts taking off!
I loved this place and will be back. The service was casual and friendly, and Graham was a great bartender with funny stories and full of tidbits about the city. The food was reasonably priced and good – plenty of choices for vegetarians and pescatarians.
- Price: Great Price is right, both drinks and food.
- Service: 4.75 Great overall (5.0 in restaurant bar.)
- Food: 4.75 Tasty, fresh, innovative.
- Recommend: In a heartbeat!
- Kid friendly: Maybe, depending on the kid’s tastes. Mine
wouldn’t get it at this point.
1= hater, 2=poor, 3=adequate, 4=above average, 5=superb
Eat, drink and be merry!