Soleá

 

Deliberate, confident Spanish delights at the W's revamped Soleá

Solea 2
Plate of Lobster paella, with clams and mushrooms by Solea's Restaurant's Executive Chef Marc Vidal. Photo: Roberto Koltun.
 

Victoria Pesce Elliott

Soleá, the W Hotel's newly launched Spanish stunner, is as warm and welcoming as a cup of steaming chocolate on a cold winter night. This is not the same Solea that made its faltering debut in August. After being pushed to open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a watered-down Mediterranean concept, restaurateurs Karim Masri, Nicola Siervo and Rony Seikaly (Quattro Gastronomia Italiana, Sosta Pizzeria) lured talented executive chef Marc Vidal to give South Beach its first real taste of Spanish cuisine. Vidal, who came to Miami in 2007 to open Coral Gables' immensely popular Por Fin, focuses his efforts on Catalan and his cooking is deliberate, confident, relaxed and executed with such care that virtually everything is worth trying. Also notable is the consistently pristine quality of ingredients, from gorgeous oils and breads to sublime seafood and meats.

Ambiance: Tucked behind the hotel lobby (and its flashier Chinese cousin, Mr. Chow), Soleá is chicly understated with slate and hardwood floors, glittering floor-to-ceiling glass walls, a languorous outdoor dining space and staffers as good-looking as the celebrities who show up here like doves on a telephone wire. The pace is relaxed, with an abundance of enticing and well-balanced flavors to share.

What Worked

  • Sublime braised veal cheeks
  • Exquisite huevo frito con patatas, traditional Spanish ham and eggs made transcendent by crisped slivers of potatoes, earthy chanterelles and a hint of truffle oil
  • Mraculously light croquetas, ham with a bright and creamy aioli
  • Sardines, pressed as thin and crisp as bacon and served with slices of crusty, olive-flecked bread
  • Tender manilla clams the size of pencil erasers served in garlicky broth with a hefty dose of parsley
  • Four plump and rosy shrimp nearly leaping from a plate of baby mesclun with a sprightly sauce of sweet and sour orange reduction and almond aioli
  • Complex, gorgeously balanced foie gras salad featuring thread-thin haricot vert, perky microgreens and crispy ham chips in a Jerez sherry vinaigrette
  • Satisfying rack of lamb and crispy-skinned branzino fillets with a potato puree and warm lentils
  • Filet mignon with tidbits of chanterelles and crunchy
  • Paella Valenciana, made with Calasparra rice cooked to a bitey but still creamy al dente and loaded with shrimp, clams, mussels and tender chicken tidbits
  • A treasure trove of a wine list featuring especially rare bottles from Spain and France
  • Chocolate Sabotage dessert combining five sweet, creamy, rich and bright chocolate elements in tiny portions
  • Lush coconut panna cotta capturing the essence of the tropics with guava soup, caramelized pineapple chunks and not-too-sweet coconut sorbet

 

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