Friday, May 24, 2013
Kennebec Journal Staff
Sometimes you can tell you are in for a creative dining experience just by the design of the silverware. Solo Bistro is one of those places. Modern and edgy is how I would describe the Finnish utensils and glassware. Angela Adams' wall hangings accent the brick walls and are incredible pieces of art. The modern lighting will grab your attention right off -- big globes of rose-like swirls hanging from the tall ceiling.
Co-owner Pia Neilson grew up in Denmark, and has used her European flair to design this space. The fact that this modern-feeling restaurant sits in the historic downtown of Bath makes it even more special.
We walked to dinner from the Inn At Bath with light snow falling and a definite chill in the air. It was an incredibly beautiful walk as the snow piled up on the huge historic buildings we passed. So when we arrived at Solo Bistro the ginger and carrot puree being served that evening sounded pretty tempting.
A basket of their freshly made bread took the chill off nicely. Who knew lemon garlic butter even existed? It was incredibly delicious.
I ended up ordering the Baby Arugula Salad because it had a bit of a twist. Theirs included feta cheese and spiced roasted chickpeas, which made this salad a standout.
My entrée was the Local Mushroom Ragu served over creamy polenta. It wasn't a vegetarian dish due to the fact that they braised the mushrooms in duck broth, but this gave the dish a nice richness. It felt like healthy comfort food with an amazing amount of flavor. I've never loved any kale that I've cooked, but I certainly loved theirs! It was a meal light enough that I could eat the whole thing (and enjoy all the bread and butter I wanted).
The Solo Bistro makes their own sorbet and ice cream. My strawberry-raspberry sorbet held an intense berry flavor. FYI -- it comes in three-scoop servings, so one serving would be enough to split unless you're still hungry.
I overheard the diner at the next table say, "This is like the perfect meal!" Well said.
Throughout the two years we've been writing this column, we've been getting recommendations for Solo Bistro. No one exaggerated. This restaurant draws foodies from throughout Maine, but Pia never loses focus on what the local folks want. I was really impressed that the place was packed during a Saturday night snow storm.
While this is very fine dining, the restaurant is not at all intimidating or dressy. Superbly decorated, yet offering an atmosphere that is relaxed and comfortable, the restaurant provides three rooms -- one of which looks into the open kitchen. We sat in the second ground floor room, but we checked out the downstairs room with its rock walls and were very impressed. A small bar is also downstairs.
The Neilson's sure know their wine, and offer a very impressive and extensive list. We selected the least expensive bottle, an Arido Malbec for $21, and it was delicious.
At a nearby table, three generations of a family were celebrating a birthday. Many of them ordered burgers. That's right, this fine-dining establishment offers the "Bistro Burger." Boy, I'll tell you, if they'd been open the next day, Sunday, for lunch, we'd have gone back for those burgers. They looked mighty good! Alas, we can't write a whole column about burgers, so we looked elsewhere on the menu.
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