Sola - cannot continue to recommend
My wife and I had an early dinner at Sola on Saturday night. The restaurant was full by the time we left. The food was tasty as usual (this was our 5th time there) but it is not keeping up with the price. We shared a seafood special appetizer that included four small plates: an oyster in a vinagrette, sea urchin in blood orange sauce, hamachi with kumquat, and peeky crab salad/cake. While visually pretty, the urchin sauce was bitter and the oyster was tasteless. The crab and hamachi were tasty. Not a good value for $16. My wife had the striped bass and I had the monkfish. The striped bass was good and the risotto it sat on was very good (full of shrimp and peas). My monkfish was okay. However, I must note that for $28 and $26 dollars respectively, the fish portions were very small. I maybe had 4 to 5 bites of monkfish attached to a large center bone.
Service was spotty. Once the restaurant got busy, our waitress pretty much ignored us. We had to ask the busboy to take our payment for the check (credit card). We also had to ask the busboy to return our remaining wine which was in an ice bucket a few tables away against the wall.
Here is the rub...several months ago we purchased a restaurant.com certificate for Sola. This gives you $25 towards food for a $10 purchase price. The certificates are good for 12 months after purchase and if you want to use it on a Saturday you must be at Sola before 6:30 PM. We made an early reservation in order to use the certificate. After we ordered and told the server we had the certificate, she told us that they no longer accept them and to take it up with restaurant.com. She said that they lose money on these and walked away. I also asked the hostess about this and said that they should honor existing certificates but she just said that they stopped taking them at the end of 2007. No apologies were offered and no other offers (even a modest one) were made. On principle, we should have left at this point (and yes we can afford full prices, but that is not the point). Personally, this is bad business. When Sola agreed to participate in restaurant.com, I'm sure they were told that the certificates were valid for 12 months after purchase. It is fine for Sola to decide not to offer more certificates through restaurant.com, but they should honor the ones out there. Sola was essentially saying, we're busy enough now that we don't have to honor these. Restaurant.com keeps track of who purchases certificates and we could have been informed prior to using it that they were no longer accepted. We felt like Sola snubbed us, offered no apology and no compensation of any kind. Also, we felt like the hostess ignored us on the way out, she was at the hostess stand while we got our coats and did not say goodbye or ask us how our dinner was (and no, she was not on the phone at the time).
Bottom line...we will not be going back to Sola.
I just returned from dinner at Sola and it was a lovely evening. I started with the Roasted Beet and Mixed Green salad. One of my dinner companions had the sardines and the other had a sweet potato soup. All three appetizers were wonderful. They were preceded by a complimentary "amuse bouche" of an artichoke and lemon soup -- again a real treat. Dinner for me was the "Roast Pork Two Ways" -- one brined pork tenderloin with a maple flavor sitting on mashed sweet potatoes and a 12 hour roasted pork shoulder on caramelized onion. I am not a big eater and this was a generous portion. It was so delicious I nearly cleaned my plate.
Each of my companions had the Striped Sea Bass -- again, absolutely delightful. We shared a dessert of gelato served with raspberries and chocolate sauce. Yum. The coffee was good, too.
The service was impeccable with two exceptions. When I made the reservations, I requested 6:30, which was not available. Then I requested 6:15, which I was told we could do but they would need the table at 8. I never had anyone tell me that before but at least I had fair warning. At about 8:05 we were told they needed the table, so would we please vacate. We had finished our coffee about ten minutes before and were ready to go when the waiter offered us a second cup, which we accepted. We didn't have time to finish it when we were asked to leave! So why did they offer us a second cup if they weren't going to give us time to finish it?? Strange.
We also had an over-eager busboy who kept trying to clear our plates when it was obvious that there was still food on them and that we were still eating. None of us had "signaled" that we were done by setting our silverware down on the plates. He did this twice. It's a pet peeve of mine. However, it was a minor nuisance.
It was thoroughly delicious meal and I highly recommend Sola. Another nice thing is that the noise level is reasonable and we had no trouble hearing each other, as is too frequently the case in a number of restaurants.
I've been told similar things - need the table by 8, by 9, etc - and never had any problem with that. actually, i kind of wish more restaurants would do that. to be honest, i've no problem with them telling you to vacate at 8:05. yes, they shouldn't have offered you the refills, but that was probably a miscommunication.
the coupon thing is more troubling, but it seems they're at least correcting the matter.
Sometimes waiters use the ol' refill trick to gauge when you're going to leave.
Manager: "I need that table. Geth them out of here now!"
Waiter: "They didn't want any more coffee. They'll be out of here any minute."
Also, not only is asking if you want more coffee good service, it can be used as a subtle prompt that it's time for you to go.
Waiter: "Would anyone care for more coffee?"
Guest, looking at watch: "Hmmm, it's 7:55 and they said they need the table at 8:00. We should probably get our things together. We're all set on the coffee, thank you."
ugh - i hate it when more than just the food leaves a bad taste in my mouth... i would consider writing a letter (or printing and sending this thread) enclosing a copy of the gift certificate and a copy of restaurant.com's policy, which i'm sure you can find on their webpage. i would demand $25 be credited back to your credit card, and failing that, i'd take it up with the credit card company. i know it's a small amount, but sometimes restaurants need to be reminded that they are a customer service business.
Ouch! As an admitted Sola lover (we are going there this week with friends), this post saddens me. Not so much the rise in food prices but the lack of concern about the gift certificate. I know you didn't want to make a big deal out of it on a busy Saturday night but I sure wish that you would consider calling and speaking directly with the Chef himself about this unfriendly "mistake."
I find him very fair and accessible.
It is one thing for a restaurant to decide not to bother with certificates anymore
-- that's fine -- but they must be fair enough to honor an existing certificate which they committed to.
I suspect the hostess and waitress just didn't know how to handle this issue properly and didn't want to bother the chef with it.
I don't blame you one bit for being upset about this.
It will be interesting to see what the outcome is.
Good luck to you.
idia: i know this is your territory... what's to love at sola? i keep wanting to try it but keep forgetting. and then that post above makes me wonder if i should bother going out of my way, but i do have some small dinners to organize coming up and i'm fresh out of fresh ideas. what are your favorites at sola? what makes you a regular there?
Take tonight's dinner:
First of all, the service! Our waiter is so attentive in a non-obtrusive way. He is the perfect example of what we all look for in a wait person.
The food -- simply delicious and beautifully presented. I like their rack of lamb but everything on that menu is creatively executed. Tonight he offered pink cod. He is an excellent seafood chef.
It is a small place which is vey appealing to me. I don't happen to prefer large restaurants.
It is a BYOB which means we can bring our own. Tonight's was a delicious California Cab.
I would not recommend a Saturday night which is probably crazy just about everywhere but likely heightened in such a small place with less than 12 tables.
As for what happened above, I couldn't agree more with that poster.
I cannot imagine what happened but I sincerely doubt that the chef knew about it. I would have been very upset if that had happened to me too. I only hope that the poster did follow through. I think it was a bad experience but not necessarily one that reflects the normal tone of the place.
I can certrainly understand the OP's frustration with the service they received, however, I have never had a bad experience at Sola. I find the food to be expertly prepared and the service to be attentive without being overbearing. The last time I was there I had a wonderful gnocchi and a great pork tenderloin. I am not a huge seafood eater, but my fiance tells me that every time she orders fish it is extraordinary. Please see my post from January on Sola.
I think I should add that the OP extolled the virtues in a previous post, leading me to believe that the incident had more to do with the way it was handled by the server and the hostess which was certainly unprofessional. The fact that it happened on a Saturday night makes me think that perhaps frustration level for those employees was at a high (not a good excuse for poor treatment to a good customer though!)
But the food, the preparation, service and presentation remain high in my book.
I'm really more interested to know the outcome about the $25 certificate. (Ay, there's the rub!)