Home | Register | Log In

Venue Review: Solas Dine, Lounge and Roof

Solas gets high marks for feel, food
Solas Dine, Lounge and Roof
By "By Greg Cox, The News & Observer "
Triangle.com

The sleek, three-story structure that houses Solas rises above the neighboring restaurants and bars on Glenwood South, its roofline radiating a neon blue glow. Near the entrance, a car park valet waits under palm trees framing the entrance. If it weren't for the scattered patches of residual snow on the ground, you think, this might well be Miami instead of Raleigh. Inside, the hostess greets you, her dressed-to-kill looks a reminder that this is not the sort of place where you show up in a sweatshirt and jeans. She escorts you to one of the tables by the brushed steel-framed windows that define one wall of the dining room. Sheer white curtains suspended from the ceiling surround these tables, softening the edgy architecture with a sultry, ethereal look. Overhead, vermilion light filters through the frosted glass dance floor of the second story nightclub. The floor above that is the rooftop patio and bar, where private lounge areas with cushioned sofas are available by reservation after 10 p.m.

No doubt about it, Solas raises the bar for urban chic style in the Triangle. Question is, does the substance — that is, the food — live up to the style?

By and large, it does. Executive chef Cliff Vogelsberg has worked at a number of fine dining establishments in the area, among them Second Empire and Sullivan's Steakhouse. Vogelsberg draws on his varied experience to produce an eclectic, seasonally changing offering that's as dramatic as the surroundings. Divided into categories labeled Small Plates, Large Plates and Side Plates, Vogelsberg's menu is a culinary kaleidoscope whose colors range from elk carpaccio to Kobe sliders to coriander-crusted sea scallops to pecan-granola sweet potatoes.

Order the Hot Rock from the Small Plates menu, and a few minutes later a searing hot slab of volcanic granite will be delivered to your table. Sizzling on the polished surface of the stone are bamboo-skewered shrimp and strips of filet mignon, a subtle rosemary perfume rising on their steam. A veritable orgy for the senses, the presentation is the distilled culinary expression of Solas' style.

Panko- and parmesan-crusted portobello fries are rustic by comparison, but they're welcome companions on a chilly night. Another starter option, featuring a small lobster tail split and fried in a light tempura batter, then presented on the shell with a smoked tomato aioli, rates high on the sensory seduction scale. So does foie gras, expertly seared to the point that it melts into a voluptuous liquid in your mouth. The pear beignets that were recently paired with the foie were dense and chewy; they have since been replaced by toasted brioche, which may well prove a more suitable match.

The wild boar chops I happily gnawed to the bone recently are no longer on the menu. Wild boar terrine, offered on the Small Plates menu with fruit compote, toasted baguette and baby greens, should provide ample consolation for those seeking a taste of primitive pork. More substantial meaty alternatives on the Large Plates menu include a thick veal rib chop, braised short ribs and New Zealand lamb chops that are brushed with rosemary chimichanga before grilling, and again just before serving.

Tuna au poivre, ordered medium rare, is competently executed but comes off as ordinary in the midst of so many exotic alternatives. A more tantalizing seafood option is pan-seared Chilean sea bass, set on a vibrant roasted beet butter and topped with a tangle of melted leeks.

Regardless of your entree choice, be sure to supplement it with either the creamy lobster risotto or the white truffle-scented house-cut fries. What the heck, as long as you're indulging, treat yourself to both.

Solas' diverse wine list offers something for every taste, including more than a dozen wines by the glass. The bar is, as you might expect, stocked with an extensive selection of trendy liquors, from cachaça to pear vodka. Fans of traditional cocktails, however, may have a more difficult time. When I tried to order a classic Manhattan, I was informed that the bar doesn't stock rye.

Still, I can't complain. The mojito I ordered instead put me in a fine, sultry Miami mood.

Reviews & Comments
CRITICS REVIEWS
Edit this review Delete this review
Jan. 30, 2009 - Triangle.com - By Greg Cox, The News & Observer

The sleek, three-story structure that houses Solas rises above the neighboring restaurants and bars on Glenwood South, its roofline radiating a neon blue glow. Near the entrance, a car park valet waits under palm trees framing the entrance. If it weren't for the scattered patches of residual snow on the ground, you think, this might well be Miami instead of Raleigh. Inside, the hostess greets you, her dressed-to-kill looks a reminder that this is not the sort of place where you show up in a sweatshirt and jeans. She escorts you to one of the tables by the brushed steel-framed windows that define one wall of the dining room. Sheer white curtains suspended from the ceiling surround these tables, softening the edgy architecture with a sultry, ethereal look. Overhead, vermilion light filters through the frosted glass dance floor of the second story nightclub. The floor above that is the rooftop patio and bar, where private lounge areas with cushioned sofas are available by reservation after 10 p.m.

(Full review)
USER REVIEWS
Nov 10, 2009 - SweetestGirlyGirl
High Cover, Empty Bar

If I went out to drink alone I could have just stayed home and saved myself a lot of cash. This bar may have the expensive ambiance, fancy look and snobby staff that one would expect in a trendy L.A., or Manhattan nightclub. This however is not L.A. or Manhattan, and Solas is not fooling anyone in Raleigh. They charge the highest cover on GLenwood ave. Sell the most expensive drinks, and everytime I have been to this place they are practically empty. If you are going out to meet new people and socialize this is definately not the place. They have have an attractive looking building and nice patio, but that's really about all, and for me that's just not enough.

Aug 10, 2009 - AllForAnimals
Poor staff and not patron friendly

Greed, pure and simple. $10 at the door will get you into a wannabe club with a tiny dance floor, music that's way too loud, and poor drink service unless you have reserved one of their tables or sofa areas. The music is hip-hop garbage that's undanceable as far as I'm concerned. If you're a designated driver, it 'only' costs you $2.50 for a soda. Oh, they tell you that you only have to pay once and get free refills, but I bought my first from the bar and then opened up a tab with a waitress. I gave her my empty glass and requested refills (and beers for my friends) throughout the night, only to find that I had been charged for my soda again at the end of the night. One waitress told my friends and me that we could not sit at any of the unreserved tables unless we spent at least $100! Are you kidding?! Everyone on the upper level is crammed into one side of the bar while the other side (for people who spend gobs of money) remains scarcely occupied at times. They let in guys wearing shorts and flip-flops too. Yeah, really classy. This owner doesn't have a clue on how to run a club. My 5 friends and I will no longer be going here.

Nov 17, 2008 - paps
great decor, shabby service, good food

I went to Solas with my girlfriend for a 9:30 PM dinner on a Saturday. I asked for a table outside and upstairs on the third floor, after being initially told that it would not be a problem to accommodate, we arrived, on time, in front of the restaurant. The valet said that they could not park our car, because they were full. Full? I think not, I paid over twice the normal valet rate, and magically, a spot for me was found. Considering that I drive a higher profile vehicle, this elitism classification does not surprise me.

We arrived and asked for our table upstairs from the host. She said we would have to wait. This was understandable. We floated between the bar and the outside patio on the first floor for almost 30 minutes, checking in with the hostess every 5 minutes. After waiting 30 minutes for our table, they informed us that they could not seat us upstairs. We ended up sitting on the outside patio, our server did not arrive until 10 minutes after we were seated, with 60% occupancy on the dinner tables, and very few people actually eating, this level of service was unexpected and obviously undesired.

We were not offered water. We bought two glasses of champagne which ended up coming AFTER the meal. I repeat, we did not receive water. Our bread came to the table, with no olive oil, or vinegar (as some of the other tables had). The food was acceptable, even if the menu did seem like a complete rip off from more popular gastronomic eateries in D.C. and Manhattan, not saying much for originality, but with that said it was well prepared.

The quality of service enough is alone for me to never step foot in this dump again. I have never felt so small while paying so much money. My girlfriend and I wanted to see the third floor. We were unable to do so, because people had reservations on the third floor. Which to me is rather interesting, because, we could NOT reserve a table, it was not that the tables were full, we simply could not reserve one, it was their quote “policy”. So I find this elitism rather interesting, what I believe, is that the owners/management, cater to those they know, i.e friends first, and ignore other well, generally better paying customers such as myself.

This social elitism is absurd, and is the worst way to run a business. I repeat, I would never step in this place again, there are significantly better places to eat, the only attraction to this venue is the third floor, which…no one except friends and management can really get up to anyways.

Once the hype dies down and the management and owners realize that they have to take care of their customers and not treat everyone like crap, then perhaps this place will be worth going to.

But beyond its decor and aesthetic attraction, there is nothing here to stimulate a good night out.

My advice, stay far far away.

Aug 11, 2008 - I_AM_LEGEND
Perfect

The Triangle has been waiting for a place like this for 10 years. Bravo to the owners and staff.

Zvents - Discover things to do