614 Lancaster Ave.
Bryn Mawr, PA
Rating: 4 silver spoons out of 5
Overview: A casually elegant neighborhood BYOB that focuses on seasonal menus and impeccable service.
Food: Contemporary American with European influences, the regular menu ranges from appetizers to mid-sized plates to regular entrée portions. The meal began with an amuse bouche of smoked eel paired with soy sauce and a cucumber and tomato relish. While I found the eel a bit fishy and overpowering, my dining partner found that its smokiness paired nicely with the fresh crunch of the relish. For our appetizers, we chose the Spot Prawns with gold and purple fingerling potato salad and grilled scallion aioli, and the white corn and lobster bisque with poached lobster, radish, and lemon oil. The prawns, one of the evening’s specials, were perfectly cooked with a subtle smoky flavor which was offset nicely by the light and flavorful potato salad. However, it was the scallion aioli that was the real star of the dish; it’s charred, mild onion flavor complimented each bite. The corn and lobster bisque, poured tableside, was wonderful – I practically licked the bowl! The bisque was silky and well spiced, with large chunks of lobster and a few whole baby radishes. It was also deceptively light, due in large part to the lemon oil that cut through the richness of the other ingredients.
My entrée was a grilled veal loin with Italian eggplant caponata, fregola sarda, chanterelle mushrooms, rosemary salt, and sherry jus. The veal was pink and moist, and well-seasoned. However, the charring on a few of the bites was a bit overpowering. Though my first bite of caponata seemed too sweet, subsequent bites were wonderful and earthy. The fregola with chanterelles was my favorite part of the dish – nutty and perfectly cooked. My dining partner had the grilled Australian Rack of Lamb (a staple of Sola’s menu), served with braised fennel puree, ratatouille vegetables, and mango chutney. Luckily, I managed to taste a bit everything before the plate was scraped clean: the lamb was cooked to a perfect medium rare; the fennel puree was smooth and delicately flavored; the ratatouille was rich and buttery.
We finished with dessert and cappuccino/espresso. I had the white chocolate hazelnut mousse with dark chocolate cake and valrhona chocolate ganache. Though absolutely delicious, the portion was huge and I was only able to eat half. My dining partner ordered a fruity and refreshing mango sorbet which was served with fresh raspberries and raspberry syrup. Additionally, the often overlooked art of espresso making is obviously not lost to Sola, as the espresso and cappuccino were strong, flavorful, and most importantly, not bitter.
Service: The service was top-notch, the waiters neither absent nor overbearing. It’s always nice to go to a restaurant where the staff appears truly comfortable, is knowledgeable about the food, and isn’t afraid to get to know and joke with the customers.
Ambiance: Warm and cozy, Sola can accommodate larger groups (a birthday party of 8 was just leaving when we arrived) and is the perfect spot for an intimate dinner for two.
Value: Mid-sized plates and entrees range from $18 – $32, a pretty standard range for BYOs on the Mainline. However, the caliber of food makes this a great value. There is also a $35 prix fixe menu, served Tuesday – Thursday. The one small inconvenience is that there is a $2 corkage fee.