542 Herald St - closed Mondays website

Without a doubt, if you're interested in fancy cocktails, Solomon's will satiate your curiosity. I like a fancy cocktail and I often visit a hotel lounge and splurge on a carefully blended drink. Solomon's seeks to provide that same level of detail orientation in combination with a selection that exceeds expectations. 

Solomon's does however have a challenge on their hands. Solomon's is a bar. You don't see a lot of bars in Victoria. They serve food - good food. The menu is primarily snack food of a sophisticated sort.  The snack concept works in context the  to the cocktail centred menu, but I can only imagine the difficulties of communicating these menus and how customers should interact with them.  Victoria has a culture of pubs and restaurants - both serve meal sized food; Solomon's falls into a third category.

The menu has a lengthy array of cocktails, beers, spirits and a smaller selection of wine. The cocktails are complicated and like the menu states, take a while to prepare. We sampled the Selbach, The Blush and puPucker, the Imperial Florodoro and the Smoking Mary ($8-12). All were carefully crafted. Patty and Kirk also tried out a couple of beers from a selection that seemed to impress. The attention to detail in the preparation and service of beverages at Solomon's  appears to be a double edged sword. Despite the fact, the bar appears to be working diligently to prepare drinks, the rhythm of service requires patience. I wonder if the the menu could be designed a little differently to better balance the level of complexity of the cocktail menu, providing bar staff with some relief and moderating service times.

The food was good. Since our first visit last year, the quality and design of the food has improved considerably. The light refreshment approach lends itself to after work drinks, but comes up a short for a conventional dinner sized portion. As a group of four, we were running out of things to order and we weren't yet full. Granted Patty and I, and our guests Kirk and Amber all have very healthy appetites, easily above average.

We started with the meat and cheese plate. Our selections were the  duck prosciutto, shickenspeck and a chevre cheese. The presentation was good and the portion appropriate for sharing. We added on some housemade pickles (beets) and we were off to a good start. The crab spring rolls were crispy and had a more complex flavour than I expected. The table was fascinated by the prospect of the avocado and red pepper popcorn. The popcorn is changing feature and suits the cocktail theme. The consensus was in favour of the popcorn, but the price tag seemed a bit steep for a dish that in any other context would be designed to get the customer to order more drinks. The fries and tots, a serving of chips and fancy tater tots were fun, served with aioli and malt vinegar.  The tots, a potato croquette, was the best part. We all agreed however, that a tomato based condiment would have enhanced our enjoyment of the dish. We finished off with the flat iron steak sliders. After a period of contemplation, Kirk pronounced, "Sliders," then upon releasing a large breath, "are the new spinach and artichoke dip."   Yes, it's true. The comparison is perhaps a bit dated, but he's right. Sliders have slipped into the terrain of spinach dip, raspberry vinaigrette and sundried tomato pesto.

I unfortunately forgot to have the flight of whiskey that was offered. I grumbled in the car because I thought that was a really fun idea - three half ounce pours from their extensive list selection.  I'll try that next time.

I like the idea of being able to drink and snack in a comfortable environment. Now that I've figured out how to best appreciate Solomon's, I think it'll find a place in my circuit. I think they could benefit from addressing the speed of service issue, if only for their bottom line. I should have been drunker when I left, having spent more money. Also, I think a complimentary bar snack would go a long to communicating the theme. Whether it's peanuts at Big Bad John's, or roasted cashews at a swanky hotel lounge, this is part of the romance of bars and lounges.

Oct 09