Loop Street’s culinary credentials expanded recently, with a brand new restaurant on the First Thursday’s strip. Thulisa Martins reviews Solo.
New kid on the block Solo opened in early November in the midst of the city bowl’s buzzing culinary hub, beside the 99 Loop Gallery.
Offering only breakfast and lunch, Solo’s menu is compact and inspiring, and includes a list of shows and events taking place at the gallery in the near future.
Chef Chad Blows (formerly of The Marine in Hermanus) takes pride in offering fresh produce and ingredients with integrity, and all items are subject to seasonal availability. The cheeseburger, for instance, is made with free-range ground sirloin and paired with smoked cheddar, tomato-and-piquant-pepper chutney, gherkins and sliced fresh red onions).
When feeling very peckish, the 200g buchu-marinated free-range beef rib-eye fills the gap. The juicy, tender steak has just a hint of buchu and is cooked to perfection, lightly covered with mustard butter and served with a fresh and crisp watercress salad together with some of the best French-style fries in town.
The pan-fried calamari is definitely worth a try, too. Bursting with flavour, it's light and crisp on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside, presented in a bowl on a wooden board with a side of tasty courgette salad and creamy garlic aïoli.
The summer pasta is a good vegetarian option, served with a choice of pastas including gluten-free spaghetti, and served with blackened sweetcorn, beurre noisette, rocket salad, and aged-balsamic marmalade.
The short sweets menu offers mini butter doughnuts, which are served warm with a creamy and rich butternut caramel dipping sauce. For the chocolate lovers, dark chocolate and salted-caramel fondant made with 60%-cocoa Valrhona chocolate is also available.
A selection of muffins, cupcakes and cookies can be hand-picked from the display as well if you’re after breakfast on the run.
Guests can enjoy a small selection of fresh juices such as the refreshing option with cucumber, pear and baby spinach. A minimal selection of soft drinks and iced teas is also available. Even though alcohol is not on offer yet, for a limited time Solo offers guests a free glass of wine or ice tea when ordering from the lunch menu.
Coffee is lovely and there’s soya and almond milk for the lactose intolerant. Loose-leaf teas are a great option for those not keen on caffeine.
The service at Solo is very friendly and professional, from when telephonic reservations are taken up until you leave the restaurant. The waiters are informed and speedy, and do not leave guests wondering for too long.
The interior seating extends to a beautiful exterior under a sunroof, with the blue sky clearly visible on a sunny day. Fairy lights on the trees create a calming effect that somehow makes you feel you're not in the middle of the city. Wooden tables and chairs with navy blue highlights make for a relaxed, comfortable vibe.
Private dinners and functions can be booked for dinner; the chef will specially create a menu for each event.
Eat Out reviewers dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.
Solo now does breakfast all day, so you can order bacon waffles and shakshuka in the afternoon. Good life choices. The wonderful new winter menu has a few more tempting slow-cooked and saucy offerings to suit the time of year. The rich, indulgent beef ragu, braised in pinotage with cream, might cause you to halt conversation and raise your hands skywards it's so good. (Order it with tender gnocchi for best results.) The meat comes shredded in a glossy gravy, with bright pops of tender veggies for contrast. Sublime.
I stopped for a quick bite and cuppa at this new café in its first week. The mushrooms on toast are creamy, truffly and delicious, with peppery spears of rocket balancing the richness, all arranged beautifully on a slice of fresh sourdough. Sit at the window to watch the world go about its business, or find a spot in the serene courtyard and apply yourself to your meal or some good company. I took some baked treats back to the office with me (towering cupcakes and chocolate-chip cookies). If you like green tea, check out the almond-and-matcha cookies and the matcha latte. Chef Chad Blows is super friendly and enthusiastic – such a delight. I'll be back to try the lunch menu!