There are some restaurants you just have to root for, and Soley is one of them. Opened by Mexican natives Norma and Jose Vasconcelos, who met and fell in love while studying food in France, Soley marries Mexican flavors with classical French cooking techniques. It’s a marriage that largely works. However, this love story might not have a storybook ending, because Soley needs to be a neighborhood restaurant to survive, and I’m not sure the neighbors—no matter how snazzy Henderson Avenue has become—can afford to pay $30 a plate regularly.
The highlight on the menu is the souped-up and sophisticated chiles en nogada, a delicately fried poblano pepper stuffed with duck confit. The chile delivered some heat, tempered by a drizzle of walnut cream sauce and bursts of tangy sweetness from a smattering of pomegranate seeds. Le poisson followed, and this night it was a too-buttery Chilean sea bass served alongside nopales crepes filled with sautéed onions and cactus strips and smothered in cilantro cream sauce. Boeuf et crevette fared better, the tenderloin cutting cleanly with a knife, served with herbed red wine sauce and potato gratin sassed up with chipotle. Made-to-order churros, fried to a crisp and dusted with cinnamon and sugar, are served with a cup of piping hot decadent chocolate dipping sauce.
All of this good food is delivered by sincere servers, and the space itself—an urbane interior oozing with exposed brick, candlelight, and white tablecloths—is just what this little strip of Henderson needed. With a few tweaks to the price point, Jose and Norma may live happily ever after.
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