Over the past couple of years it was a sad shadow of its former self. One of the most exciting restaurants in Minnesota history had sort of settled in on itself -- the cavernous back dining room was always empty, the whole space seemed in need of a makeover, and the food inspired a collective "meh."
Of course, original owners Tim McKee (McKee empire) and Josh Thoma (Smack Shack) had long since exited the project, and like a Broadway play with too long a run, it had turned from dazzling to dusty.
But for those of us who were old enough to remember the excitement around an authentic Spanish tapas bar/fine dining powerhouse/events center/rooftop hang coming to our town 12 years ago when the serious dining scene was just a newborn baby, it's not overstating things to say it left us breathless.
McKee posted a heartfelt message on his Facebook page, expressing heartache over the closing:
"I'm a little surprised at how the news of the closing of Solera is affecting me. While I know it could never be the same, I'm genuinely saddened that it is no more. Since my exit, it has been too painful for me to go back. It was so special, and for me to not be a part of it was hard to take. I was, and still am, immensely proud of what Solera was. It was among the best (also most challenging and heartbreaking) 7 years of my life. It was at Solera that I had the opportunity to work with some of the best people who I have ever worked with, and some of the best people I know of in the industry today. Even though it got pretty painful towards the end, I will always feel fortunate to have had the experience. Solera may be gone, but the memories of our accomplishments and our little restaurant family will last."
Some of the biggest names in the industry spent time at the Solera stoves: Sameh Wadi, Jack Riebel, pastry chef Adrienne Odom, and Don Saunders to name only a few.
The place was heralded by all as the La Belle Vie of Spanish dining -- treating us to finely crafted tapas, with product like lomo and Majon, piquillo peppers, and Manzanilla sherry, back when you practically had to travel to Europe to get them.
The place was like a $30 study abroad.
Now that we've got you all whipped up about the original Solera, the one you may not have had the chance to experience, have we got good news for you!
None other than Tim McKee and Michael (YC) DeCamp, chef de cuisine of La Belle Vie, are rolling out a retrospective menu composed of some Solera's greatest hits, available this Wednesday, January 7, until Friday, January 16.
McKee says, "I would love it if past employees and fans would swing by and help memorialize a true milestone restaurant."
And if this menu doesn't flush out the fans, we don't know what will:
Fresh Cheese in Cilantro and Green Pepper Marinade
Octopus Ceviche with Hot Pepper and Cumin
Scallop "a la Plancha" with Serrano Ham and Saffron
Shrimp and Tetilla Croquetas
Chorizo Stuffed Dates with Smoked Bacon
Piquillo Pepper Stuffed with Herbed Goat's Milk Cheese
Ham and Cheese Croquetas
Selection of Grilled Spanish and Portuguese Sausages
Chorizo and Hot Green Peppers with Sidra
Snails in Chorizo and Sherry
The menu will be available in the LBV lounge, served a la carte.
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