Just so-so in Chestnut Hill...
Having never really had a bad meal in Chestnut Hill across all the various cuisines and hot spots along Germantown Ave., I took a friend who had recently moved to the area and never explored. On our drive back from the Camden Aquarium, we headed up Germantown Ave. and she commented on how quaint and cute the town was, a statement with which I whole-heartedly agree. As we made it further up the street, after I pointed out Hokka Hokka and Cin Cin, she said she wanted something a little less ethnic, more American, almost pub-like. So I thought of McNally's first but decided on Solaris Grille, where I've had many solid meals before, as well as some good spirits.
We arrived early on a Friday night so seating was no problem, however, our server placed us in the far corner of the dining room, which I found a bit odd. After ordering our beers, a great offering both draft and bottle, our server disappeared. Our location in the dining room may have lent itself to being forgotten, but after 10 minutes or so, she returned with our bread and drinks. The bread was a necessary accompaniment to the chicken tortilla soup we both ordered. It had nice chunks of chicken and a good corn undertone, but lacked the spice and was riddled with celery which I don't think has any place in this type of soup. Still the soup was adequate, particularly on a cold day.
Our entrees came out in short order, however, there was something noticeably missing from my dining partner's fajita platter, that being the trademark sizzle. In addition, the avocado was brown which led to its being left on the plate. Other than that, the dish got a positive review from my dining companion, but in truth, it's a tough meal to mess up. Mine on the other hand, was the Hibachi steak with wasabi-mashed potatoes and soy glazed green beans. 1/3rd of the dish was solid, as the mashed potatoes had a great level of nose-clearing heat from the wasabi and the texture was perfect. Sadly, the rest fell short. The beans didn't really have more than a hint of any type of glaze and certainly no soy to be tasted. Even worse, the beans had their coarse ends still attached, a major faux pas in my book. The steak was nicely seasoned but poorly cooked, as I ordered this medium and it came out more like medium rare. Overall, a generally unsatisfying meal for a less than modest price tag.
I won't disparage the restaurant or the street, because as I said, I've had many great meals all over Chestnut Hill, but this was one of my least memorable.
8201 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19118
Yes, the Solaris Grille in Blue Bell is owned by the same people. We had a holiday party there Saturday. I will try it again because I don't want to judge the restaurant based on the few foods offered at the party. The entrees were ok, the appetizers I tried were very good. Service during the event seemed decent.
IMO Solaris is one of the most disappointing restaurants in CH. I find Cafette and Chestnut Grill to be much more consistent for a tasty, mid-priced meal.
Ugh, I hate Solaris. I used to live in Chestnut Hill, and went there a few times right around when it opened. We went three times separated by a year or so, and each time we were very disappointed. They have a salad on the menu whose name escapes me, but it's billed as having asaragus, snap peas, avacado and various other veggies. I thought it sounded good, so I ordered it. It is probably the most unappetizing thing I've seen in a restaurant. The veggies are chopped pretty finely and mixed with pureed avocado, then (so I'm guessing) pressed into a ring mold and served. It looked like so much vomit on my plate. I sent it back. I can't imagine how anybody would think that was appealing! They have another restaurant out where I live now called Tequila Joe's. I won't even go into it - that very same salad is on their menu too.
Solaris has this odd knack of always seeming like it's having an off night.
It's a lot like Chestnut Grill, but CG is just consistently that one little step better that, for us, is often the difference btwn worth it and not worth it.
We don't go to either much these days, but when we were walking distance from both, it was more of an issue.
Now that we're 2 miles away, the C-Hill places we still eat: both sushi places, hill tavern, cafette, cin-cin.
re: Bob Loblaw
That's a great way of putting it. They always do seem a little off, and it's weird. A shame, too, since the patio is so nice in warm weather. We've gone for drinks and to play pool upstairs a few times, but I won't eat there anymore. Hill Tavern, Shundeez, and Campbell's are our go-to places in CH now.