I’ve always been a fan of eating out on nights that aren’t traditionally big nights out for the general population. Sunday falls into that category and when I heard Matt Gordon was cooking up fried chicken and booking bands at Solace and the Moonlight Lounge, my interest was immediately piqued. Just to refresh, the Moonlight Lounge is the casual upstairs portion of Solace in Encinitas with a community table, balcony, and an open, airy feel and a view that looks westward into downtown Encinitas. It’s a great place to be as the sun is setting as the lighting is quite nice and it’s never that crowded.
So about this fried chicken thing that Matt has going on. I am a huge fan of when it’s done extra crispy on the outside and moist and flavorful on the inside. The kitchen at Solace nails both of those attributes and then some. The Jidori chickens are brined for 24 hours then double dredged in buttermilk and a seasoned flour mixture and fried until perfect. They did not divulge the seasoning in mixture and I don’t blame them, I would not want my secret seasoning recipe out there for anyone to recreate. In case you are unfamiliar with Jidori chickens, here is the lowdown on them. Jidori chicken refers to a type of mixed-breed domestic free-range chicken known for its robust flavor. The original Jidori chicken began when a precious pure breed of chicken called Hinaidori was crossed with the Rhode Island Red to create Akita Hinai-jidori, with Akita referring to the prefecture of Japan, and Hinai referring to the town. The chickens are fed an all-vegetarian diet, including clover, tomatoes, and apples. They are delivered the same day of slaughter, insuring freshness. These are high quality, cage-free birds without hormones, steroids, or meat byproducts. Jidori chickens are never frozen, and retain less water than most chickens, resulting in a pinker breast, firmer texture, and fuller chicken flavor. That concludes the educational component of this week’s column.
But wait, there is more! This very healthy portion of Jidori chicken comes with homemade pork sausage in a southern gravy, organic yellow grits and pickled kale and garlic. I was not in the mood for alcohol so I went with the Ginger Boylan Soda that they have on tap along with several other varieties and was quite happy with my selection. I did ask Matt what he would pair with the chicken and his beer suggestions were either a Coronado Pils or Societe Harlot. I’m not sure I’m ever going to be drinking wine with fried chicken, but if that’s your thing my research turned up Rose Champagne, sparkling wine or Lambrusco as options. Whatever your beverage of choice, this is Sunday dinner bliss. I even had a piece of chicken left over to munch on for lunch the next day and it was as good or better cold. I should note that the entire menu at Solace is full of great selections so if your dining companion is not into chicken, there are quality options. I’ve always been a fan of their burger and the mustard crusted sea bass with sautéed faro and toasted black pepper sauce is a nice as well. Sunday nights also feature $1.50 chef’s choice oysters and drink specials.
I would not have a problem going solo for this meal though. There is a sizeable bar and a community table that I’ve always met interesting folks at.
So now that we have established that the fried chicken is very worthy, let’s talk music. They have a great mix of bands that rotate through and they all seem to have a style well suited for the space. Nena Anderson, Paul Cannon Band, Red Fox Tails, Graham Nancarro, Midnight Pine, Peter Hall, and Stratos just to name a few. It’s a nice sound level that lends itself to dinner conversation and a lively vibe and that’s a good combination. So many venues with bands struggle with that. These are all high quality performers and the crowd tends to appreciate and pay attention to the music. Music starts at 7pm and runs until around 9pm.
Check out the full music schedule, menu, hours and location at www.eatatsolace.com<< Back