With the prospect of hanging out with my totally awesome friend Joe as an excuse, I got a chance to check out Solea on Moody Street last night. This place gets a lot of great reviews, a few that say it's not authentically Spanish enough, and a few that say it tends to be a "so-so" experience... In the end, my verdict tends to fall with that last group. Everything was good, but nothing was great. On most dishes I couldn't tell you what they should have done better, but on others there was a clear failing in terms of balance of flavors. The restaurant does the "tapas" thing (which is part of what draws the ire of people who have spent time in Spain), so we ordered several small dishes to share. First up was the ceviche, with the fish of the night being wild salmon:This was exactly OK. The citrus dominated to a ridiculous extent, and would have been better off balanced by a little spice (or... something that wasn't lime juice) to add interest. As it was, it was sort of just a mouthful of citrus with a protein that really could have been anything. for how much the salmon's flavor contributed to the dish. The next dishes came all at once, so I'll start with the one that had the most potential in my mind: Scallops in Saffron Cream (one already missing from the photo, since this was the last one I took a picture of):
I wanted to love this, but I just couldn't. The scallops were cooked perfectly, and the sauce had potential, but in the end was just too bland. There needed to be something there to cut the fatty creaminess. As it was, it seemed like it was just cream steeped with saffron for a while. Meh. The non-seafood dishes fared a bit better. The Potatas Bravas (slightly spicy, well-seasoned potatoes with aioli) were quite tasty:The foie dish (Foie Gras with Port-Sautéed Apple Slices) was slightly lacking to my palate (quite possibly because my only other experiences with fois have been at meals that cost upwards of $200/person), but the sauce had a nice candied quality and this may have been my favorite thing on the table.
The sausage dish (pork sausage with figs in a sweet-ish sauce) was also pretty good in terms of flavor, but the sausage was cooked to the point of being pretty rather tough. Meh.
Finally, we ordered a ravioli dish (Lobster and Crab Ravioli in Langostino Sauce) which, after the dishes that proceeded it, was unsurprisingly mediocre. The sauce at least had a tiny bit of spice to balance the cream, but was still on the bland side. The ravioli filling was nice, but the pasta was too thick and combined with the bland sauce to make the overall dish anticlimactic. (Forgot to take a picture until this dish was almost gone, since this order was a bit of an afterthought...)
In summary, I guess dinner at Solea could be classified in a one-word review as "Meh." We had a good time, and I enjoyed the restaurant's location and overall vibe... I really wanted to love the place, but I just couldn't. Unfortunately, it's one of the 4 non-Italian places in Waltham that comes highly-recommended by the masses... I'll have to check out the other 3 and see how they rate, but I may just have to start leaving my suburb when I want a kick-ass meal.