Solana Restaurante, Ampuero, Cantabria – My Experience in Photo’s
Regular followers of The Life of Stuff will know that I recently had the pleasure of being a guest to the Cantabria region in Northern Spain by means of a blog trip. It was a wonderful experience and as a newbie to Cantabria, an introduction I will never forget. In fact I hope to return to explore more of what the region has to offer so stay tuned for that.
During my stay I got the chance to sample Northern Spain’s cuisine. From tasty road side tapas of fresh local cheese, spicy sausage, crusty bread and olives, to the traditional ‘highlander’ stew ‘Cocido Montañés‘. The later I’d like to describe as meat-lovers comfort food. Cantabria did not disappoint on freshness or flavour when it came to satisfying my appetite. However my dining experience at Solana Restaurante topped them all.
Solana Restaurante is found in the Ampuero region of Cantabria. It’s about a 45 minute drive from Santander City. It’s across the road from Santuario de la Bien Aparecida, which by the way I saw from the comfort of a kayak on my adventure down the River Arroyo de la Cueva, but that’s another story.
Solana is family run and has been since the 1940’s. For the majority of this time Solana was a tavern renowned for its quality traditional cuisine, locally. Fast forward to 2007 and we are introduced to another element of Solana, who also celebrates fresh and local produce but is the fine dining, modern, contemporary side – Solana Restaurante.
Solana Restaurante has become renowned not only to the locals for its high quality contemporary cuisine but to the world through the achievement of Michelin Star status. Solana is owned by Hermanos Solana and its Head Chef is Ignacio Solana.
The restaurant is gorgeous, simply because of how it’s designed. The windows offer a panoramic view of the Cantabrian landscape in all its glory, and there’s a feeling of being elevated in it.
The architectural design feature of ‘letting the outside in’, comes to mind, and the only way Solana could feel more ‘outside’ would be if they took the roof off. There is lots of space between tables, something I’m a huge fan of, and they can seat 55. Each table is set with crisp white table linens, with a single small vase of fresh flowers, making it almost minimalistic but I couldn’t picture it any other way. If dining here, my advice is to dine during the day to take in all that beautiful countryside.
The service is five-star. We were guided through the Gourmet Tasting Menu, course by course, translated into English for our benefit alone. There were seven courses including dessert but we were also treated to an extra course of delicious mini desserts which you’re sure to drool over when you read on. I enjoyed a glass of Medievo Rioja with my meal.
I’m not a food critic but I love to write about ‘share worthy’ dining experiences and this truly is one. I highly recommend Solana Restaurante, and on that note here is my Solana Restaurante dining experience in photo’s …
Ajo Balco (Almond Gazpacho) with Floured Anchovy
Beautifully presented, this first dish not only gave me an understanding of the standard and quality of dishes we were about to experience, but it also introduced me to gazpacho, a traditional Spanish soup. Delicious.
I’ve tasted grilled artichoke hearts but never like this, nor presented as pretty as this. My knife glided through it and it melted in my mouth.
Asparagus Natural Textures
Daintily presented, the taste of the asparagus and mushroom was so light but yet so full of flavour.
Crisp Egg cooked at Low Temperature, Parsnip, Fresh Black Truffle
The description of this dish explains it. The photo below will help explain just how perfect it was, bursting with freshness and flavour. The breaded coating was light and crispy, the egg yolk the colour of a healthy fresh free-range egg, the parsnip was creamy and not overpowering, all complimented by the dark and rich flavour the truffle provided. Fantastic.
Red Mullet Fillet with Meunière Sauce
Again presented beautifully, the Red Mullet was deliciously tender and the meunière sauce provided a buttery lemon base with every bite.
Glazed Ox Tail Boned and Stewed, served with Celery Purée
This was by far the richest of the courses with regard to taste. The meat was melt in the mouth tender. The juices of its stewed jus complimented the light celery purée perfectly.
Baked Cheesecake and Guava Ice-Cream
Still warm when it served, and apart from my childhood memories of my Grand-Aunt Rose gifting us a home-baked cheesecake on each visit home to Ireland from the UK, this cheesecake at Solana Restaurante was the best cheesecake I’ve ever eaten.
Espresso Coffee and a Selection of Mini Desserts
Good coffee along with macaroons, chocolate dipped gooseberries and Gin & Tonic cubes … a delightful end to a wonderful Gourmet Tasting Experience.
For more information on Solana Restaurante including their history, ethos and menus visit their website here are at restaurantesolana.com.