About two years ago local food writers were given a heads-up via a nice dinner at the original North Park Solace that an Encinitas version of Solace was on the way. At the time, Encinitas was just coming into its own as a dining destination and this was big news.
Since then, Encinitas has exploded with dining options and Solace & the Moonlight Lounge is now another solid option to that lineup.
They did great things with the space with a downstairs dining room and the Moonlight Lounge upstairs which features a bar, communal table, and outdoor deck. It also serves a lounge menu as well as the full dining room menu. On two visits, I found myself drawn to the upstairs lounge. It just seemed to have more character and energy and I love the idea of the communal table to meet new folks over drinks and dinner.
The staff was very friendly and attentive but our server, at least, did not seem to have the menu knowledge one would expect from a chef driven establishment. We did not get silver until we asked for it. We ordered a cheese plate that never showed up, our oysters were called clams upon delivery, and our requested extra tomato jam never made it for the cheddar biscuits.
This was on a fairly slow Monday evening. Again, there was no attitude problem as everyone was very nice and we seemed to have multiple servers, which made it even more odd, but better than the alternative of being ignored.
I’d just really like to see a server in a cool place like Solace (among others in Encinitas) who can wow me with their menu knowledge, romance the dishes a bit, and suggest a beautiful wine or beer pairing with what I’m considering. Not too much to ask right?
So back to the Moonlight Lounge, it really is a great place to hang out and with a big painting of Jeff Bridges as “The Dude” from the Big Lebowski dominating the space, I felt right at home. The lounge has all the cool of Union without the obnoxious loudness.
I should add that I saw the proprietors of Fish 101 here on their night off, that’s a very good sign. I’ve yet to try any of their fancy designer cocktails but they sure look good. They hand make all of their flavored syrups for their cocktails and have a large selection of either sustainable or organic West Coast produced wines on their list.
All of their bar and menu items are prepared without the use of high fructose corn syrup and they feature Boylan Bottling Company’s all natural soda on tap.
You have to love Boylan soda, and not just because it’s a great name.
We started with a dozen oysters and the much-hyped warm cheddar and chive biscuits with warm honey butter with very good smoked tomato jam.
A solid cup of tomato fennel soup also rounded out the starters. Our cheese plate finally made it, though awkwardly placed in the middle of the meal. Starters range from $5.75 for the biscuits to $13.50 and there is a nice variety to choose from.
We heard the watermelon, tomato and cucumber salad was a must-have and that did not disappoint.
The whole salad section looked very good and they average around $10.
My entrée was the mustard crusted local halibut with farro stew and a toasted black pepper sauce. Farro was new to me but it worked well and added a nice rustic texture to the dish. Think al dente barley, and look farro up as it is an interesting grain.
We also tried the leg of duck confit, duck fat fried creamers, cress-apple-fennel slaw, and a red wine sauce.
All good stuff and I’ll be back to try all the entrees which range from $9.50 for the burgers to $32.50 for the ribeye.
The peanut butter and chocolate crème brulee for dessert is now on my top 5 list. Their entire dessert list looked delicious and they all run $7.
Everything about the restaurant including hours, location, and the menu can be found at eatatsolace.com.