Il Fiume di Lava
Nosh Kitchen Bar

Big Change at Solo Bistro

When people find out I'm a wine distributor the response is usually "Oh, that sounds like so much fun!" or something like that.  I often try to set them straight by talking about putting stickers on bottles in my warehouse or some such thing like that, but there really are some great perks to this job.  Last night I enjoyed a big one when I got to attend Solo Bistro's private debut of their new menu, created by their new Chef: Tyne Sansom.  Tyne returns to Solo, having cooked there as the Sous chef to Esau Crosby before moving on to become the chef at the Main dining room of the Harraseekitt.  Now back at Solo and in charge, he's moved the menu firmly to the cutting edge of Maine cuisine and taken their already dedicated use of local produce to a new level.

As soon as I saw Charcuterie egg rolls on the menu I knew I was getting them.  The egg rolls are filled with duck confit, pork belly that Tyne cures himself, and a bit a cabbage.  Tyne is making the egg pasta for the casings himself and his personal passion and investment showed through in the balanced flavors of the gamey duck and meaty pork belly.  The egg rolls are served with the killer addition of fig paste and tamari jam.  I also got to try the Wild Mushrooms on Brioche toast which was a classic flavor combination.  The delicacy of the sauteed wild mushrooms was set off by the richness of the brioche.  And I snagged a bite of Lion Stout and Molasses braised short rib, which was so tender it came apart when I looked at it.

The main course I tried was a roasted Butternut squash risotto.  The rice was rich and creamy, tied together with asiago and romano cheese.  I was impressed how bright the risotto was; there was the right amount of cheese to make it creamy and gooey, without being heavy or too dense.  That allowed the Butternut squash to become the primary flavor.  The fresh sweet flavor of the squash brightened the dish and made it a lighter risotto that satisfied me with out weighing me down.  I also tried the Vegan Winter Vegetable Pie.  I'm always suspicious of vegan cooking, but this pie was rich and hearty.  The slight sweetness of the parsnips married well with the potato and mushrooms in it.  I was particularly impressed by the crust of the pie too.  Vegan baking can be tricky, but this was flakey and tasty, just what it should be.

I finished off with a vanilla bean cake served with caramel ice cream.  The delicate vanilla bean flavor was fresh and right on and it was a perfect vehicle for soaking up the melting caramel ice cream. 

I'm impressed by the new menu and look forward to going back soon and seeing how things evolve.  Making your menu this local and seasonal is obviously hard in ME but Tyne is off to a great start and is genuinely passionate about what he's doing.

You can see the menu on Solo's website here:  http://solobistro.com/menus.htm

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