Restaurant Review: SO|LA, Soho

Date of visit: June 2021

SO|LA is a relatively new restaurant in Soho specialising in Californian food and wines. Given its location on Dean Street it’s an oasis of calm, somehow totally blocking out the sounds of the lively street outside - but you can still see everything going on outside (which is a lot!) and is quite a fun dynamic. SO|LA was awarded its first star during lockdown, which must have been a bit odd as the team couldn’t properly celebrate, but apparently have seen a big upswing in bookings. It is, after all, the reason I booked SO|LA, so I’m not surprised. 

The restaurant is by no means cheap, it must be said. In fact this was one of the most expensive meals I have ever had. But look at the menu and you’ll see why - the ingredients are absolutely top notch and the amount of work that goes into each dish is insane. For a small restaurant in Soho especially, the prices make sense. To be clear, the evening tasting menu is £139 and the wines start at around £60. At this price I would usually save the restaurant for a particular special occasion but I booked this in a spree during lockdown and I’m very glad for it!

Speaking of the wines, as mentioned above these are Californian which is great for me as a Californian Chardonnay is my favourite. My boyfriend and I had a bottle between us which was £90. Including service and the wine, the meal was £420 for the two of us. Absolutely worth it, the best meal I’ve had in London, possibly ever. The only competition would be the 2 star Arnolfo in Tuscany, which was similarly priced. 

The Menu

To start we were served a selection of Parmesan based snacks which was fine for me but not so fine for my boyfriend who doesn’t like cheese. This was a bit of an oversight as we had provided dietary requirements beforehand, but more on that later. There was a Parmesan stick which was ok and a little choux pastry bun which was warm and delicious. My boyfriend would have hated both so I got to have double, yay for me! Not so yay for him.

The first proper course on the menu was a selection of scombridae. Yes, a new word for me too! This is the family of fish where you would find tuna, mackerel and others. At the top and bottom of the above photo were tuna loin, which would usually have truffle but they made one without for my boyfriend hence the different trays. This was the best of the 3. The next down was kingfish and I can’t remember what was in the tart. These were both pleasant but not particularly exciting. Actually this was the weakest of the dishes for me, things got better and better as the meal went on.

Up next was tomato and melon with some funny little blobs of buttermilk and herbs and other bits and bobs. Delightfully fresh and amazing flavours of tomato. This was served with a tomato focaccia, which was lovely and soft - still warm of course! As the bread was really part of this course I’m not going to rate the bread separately and just include in the overall food score.

The third dish is where things really started to take off for me. From time to time during meals I decide a dish is the best I have ever had of a particular ingredient, but this only really happens rarely and once per meal if at all. This crab dish was the best crab I’ve ever had, and the first of 3 such dishes in this meal. It was served with a ponzu jelly, pea and miso all hidden under the green foam. Amazing. 

Once we’d just about finished this, we’re were given the second part of the dish which was soft shell crab stuffed with crab and ponzu and other things, fried in a light batter. Who doesn’t like deep fried things? I do! By this point I had started to really realise how much work was going on in the small kitchen!

Next up was the langoustine course. The langoustine itself was flambeed at the table on a volcanic rock - the whole thing up in flames was quite a dramatic and fun moment! This was served with a wild mushroom and foie gras dumpling in a ginger dashi broth with a little soy soaked egg which was perfectly cooked. The dumpling was delicious, delicate instead of overpowering as you might expect from the contents and the broth brought the whole thing together nicely.

The next dish was my favourite of the meal, the best fish dish I’ve ever had and maybe the best dish altogether. This was turbot, perfectly cooked with a slightly caramelised outside. It was served with razor clams, a razor clam or oyster espuma (I think), squid ink crisp and another beautiful perfect sauce. Everything came together so wonderfully.

The final savoury course was lobster served with carrot, couscous and calamansi (which the couscous was cooked in and took on an amazing flavour). The lobster itself was full of flavour, juicy, meaty, generous.  There was also a beautiful lobster bisque. The best lobster dish of my life! This course also has a part two, which was a small Japanese custard with lobster and corn.

The first of two puddings was lemon with yuzu, vanilla, meringue and creme fraiche. I don’t know exactly what it was (it was delivered to the table when I was away from the table) but some sort of lemon semi Fredo on a vanilla cream. It had quite a light lemon flavour so not too overpowering, and the texture of it was lovely. Look how pretty it is!

The final full course and second pudding was a variety of blobs of different things. I’m going to have to guess exactly what these were as this wasn’t explained when served to us (more on this later). There was a very dense chocolate parfait - amazing, with smaller balls of white chocolate and banana. The best bit was the caramel sauce which had a good bitterness to it which I like. And it was beautiful!

To finish the meal we were served petits fours which were a nougat (scorched with their flamethrower - getting good use after the flambeed langoustine!) and a strawberry jelly with an intensely flavoured little strawberry on top. 

The food at SO|LA is amazing. Certainly of a higher calibre than other one starred restaurants and in fact two starred restaurants. I can definitely see more stars in its future, but the restaurant could be held back by a few issues with…

The Service

I think there must have been some sort of issue with their booking system, as I called to give my boyfriend's dietary requirements beforehand, and then they called a few days later to confirm dietary requirements which I provided a second time.

When we arrived we were again asked if we had any dietary requirements, which we told the waiter - no strong cheese such as parmesan or mushrooms for my boyfriend. So we thought it was an actual joke when the next waiter immediately turned up with the various parmesan canapes and said "I hope you like parmesan!"

We explained the situation but there were no other snacks available since they didn't have the earlier records, which but a bit of a downer on the start of the meal because we had to explain we had already told them about the requirements but nothing was done about this.

Other than that the service was attentive but occasionally chaotic, on the more casual end of the fine dining spectrum I would say. Unusually, one dish was served whilst I was away from the table. Usually the waiters would wait until everyone is at the table, especially if just two people. Then for the final courser the waiter didn't bother to tell us what was in it.

Other than that I did notice once or twice the occasional smear on my plate that shouldn't have been there. You can see in a couple of the photos if you look closely.


Food: 5/5

Absolutely amazing, if I could go above 5 on this I would, but that would be ridiculous. The best food in London right now (well, according to me of course!).

Service: 3/5

Quite a few areas for improvement, which is a shame given how excellent the food is. I'll definitely be back, hopefully I'll be able to give the restaurant full marks next time!

Value for money: 5/5

Despite being quite expensive this was worth every penny. The menu was long, two of the courses had surprise second parts and the ingredients were of very high quality (and expensive!).

Overall score: 4.6/5


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