Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Solera, Spanish tapas in downtown Minneapolis

One of our favorite local restaurants is Cascal, a Mediterranean tapas place in downtown Mountain View, which deserves its own entry (or two) one of these days. Our Minneapolis friends, who also enjoyed Cascal, told us that Solera compares favorably to it, so when we visited Minneapolis, that was at the top of their list of places to take us.

It's a beautiful interior, dominated by red-brown brick and wood, the dining room semi-partitioned into several smaller spaces so you don't feel lost in a huge room. The tables are natural wood, polished smooth. It took a little while for us to get our server to come by, but we used that time to peruse their extensive tapas menu and decide on some options. We got the dish of olives in cava vinegar, an order of the cumin-toasted pumpkin seeds, and were told that the Chorizo-stuffed dates with smoked bacon were de rigeur. They were delicious indeed! We've become enamored of dates recently, having found nice fresh ones at our local market, and these were great ones, their sweetness meshing with the spicy sausage and smoky meat flavor of the bacon. The pumpkin seeds were good, too, the cumin adding a nice spice to the crunchy nut flavor.

For the second round, we got deviled eggs with blue crab and cumin, scallops "a la plancha" with serrano ham and saffron, kikos with Moorish spices (which turned out to be corn nuts, though the server insisted we call them "toasted corn"--they were still good), and sobrasada (a soft sausage) with quince honey and sheep's milk cheese. All of these were just as good as the first round: the eggs and scallops particularly stood out. I thought the crab and cumin went very well with the deviled eggs, enhancing the flavor without overpowering it, and the scallops were just tender and cooked perfectly.

The wine and margarita were quite good, and Solera actually has some interesting non-alcoholic drinks, including a "Pom-Pom" (pomegranate puree mixed with another fruit juice that, regrettably, slips my mind for the moment) that was pretty good. We left Solera very happy, agreeing that it compares favorably to our favorite Mountain View tapas place. Score one for Minneapolis!

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