Solana! at Ocean Club West, Turks & Caicos IslandsReviewed January / February 2017
Solana! Restaurant in Ocean Club West Resort
Talk about raising the bar! Literally! Solana brings an original and exciting dining experience to Providenciales featuring two Japanese Teppanyaki Grill Bars, a Sushi Bar, a Cocktail Bar & Lounge and the Grill Deck. Located at Ocean Club West, this Grace Bay ocean front venue has a whole new look and vibe. Solana’s inspiring menu is a synthesis of flavours that goes beyond just Japanese cuisine with an appealing and delicious fusion of dishes from the East and the West.
Extensive renovations and contemporary new furnishings have transformed this space into a trendy and casual gathering place for dining and/or drinks and tapas with a cosmopolitan elegance that is tropically tranquil.
Plenty of seating around the Teppanyaki Grill Bars and the Sushi Bar gives you an exciting front-row seat right at the heart of the action. This is dinner and entertainment! The chefs in the Grill Kitchen are preparing many international and local favourites and the Grill Dec Is the ultimate in beachfront dining. It’s exactly what you envisioned island dining would be, nestled right behind the dunes, surrounded by swaying palms, beneath strings of twinkling lights. Chillout and take in this tropically tranquil ambience as you listen to beach lounge music; and on certain evenings, enjoy the musical stylings of some of our own local artists.
Temaki Nori Rolls
To showcase and introduce this new and unique dining hotspot, we were invited to experience a special six course tasting menu that featured dishes from both the Grill Kitchen and the Japanese Kitchen together with the expert guidance of general manager, Ajay Vyas. Ajay was quick and keen to pay tribute to his entire team beginning with local Chef Walky Gedeon who takes the helm in the Grill Kitchen. "Walky has progressed through the ranks, he’s coming into the big leagues now," Ajay boasted.
In the Japanese Kitchen, the three talented chefs were trained in Wasabi, one of Iron Chef Morimoto’s famous restaurants in Delhi, India. It was there they learned the authentic, highly specialised and complex art of sushi making.
Our first course was not only a local favourite, but an island speciality, Conch Salad. But this conch salad had an unexpected twist… or should I say, texture. Ajay explained that they were excited to feature this unique blend of ingredients, different from the usual fare. Chef Walky has been winning ‘Best Conch Salad’ at the Conch Festival for the past two years with his signature recipe that features cranberries. Our complimentary conch commentary included, "that’s very different", and "nice acidity" to "never had cranberries in my conch salad before." Ajay paired this dish with a crisp and light Voga Prosecco and added, "The Prosecco’s tartness and crispness is a beautiful balance with the sweet cranberries and conch."
A steadfast consortium of wine enthusiasts, we thoroughly enjoyed our initiation and edification into the wonderful world of sake this evening with a food and sake pairing. This alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice is steeped in history, dating back centuries ago. Ajay said, "We have a fantastic selection of sakes, the brand is Momo Kawa, famous for their organic sakes. Ajay admits with a grin, "I’ve tried a lot of them!" All in a day’s work, we teased. For those less inclined to explore the world of sake, Ajay has created a handpicked wine selection with bottles starting as low as $35.
Sumptuous sushi at Solana!
The Wasabi-trained chefs presented a superb selection of Sushi and Nigiri with a dramatic and artistic presentation on a black slate plate. Not knowing where to start, we dove in with wild abandon, with a frequent and enthusiastic, "That was fantastic!" You could taste the absolute freshness of the Scottish salmon and the AAA Grade Saku Tuna, flown in fresh from Miami every week. Firm and flavourful this superior grade tuna simply melted in your mouth. The Momo Kawa Silver Sake was a lovely accompaniment, very smooth, and paired tremendously well with this dish. "Ajay smiled and added, "It has a lot of flavour to it. Not alcohol front."
Next, exquisite aromas of an Armagnac-scented Seafood Bisque perfumed the air. A delightful combination of shrimp, fish, conch and lobster this rich and creamy bisque had an impressive depth of flavour. "How do you beat that?" My fellow diner raved. Another of Chef Walky’s recipes, Ajay offered that this dish would be a great continuation of the flavour profile after the sushi. We couldn’t agree more. This was paired with a drier Momo Kawa Diamond, which was outstanding.
A Japanese Seafood Plate included Sautéed Shrimp with Ponzu Sauce, Miso Glazed Salmon, Teriyaki Glazed Scallops and a wonderful dollop of Teppan tossed sticky rice. The soy-based citrus flavours of the Ponzu were an ideal contrast and enhanced the delicate flavours of the succulent shrimp. The miso glaze (miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans) produced a combination of sweet and savoury flavours that really complimented the moist richness of the salmon. These offerings were paired with a slightly sweeter version of Momo Kawa Ruby Sake. Ajay hit another home run. We were all smitten with the success of the sake and food pairings.
Guava Glazed Pork Loin
The entrée was a carnivores dream come true; a skillfully created and perfectly executed plate with Guava Glazed Pork Loin, char-grilled with a sweet and delicately spiced guava-wine dressing served on creamy polenta. A Rib Eye steak with a rich, dark jus reduction served with a mash medley of sweet and regular potato; and Rack of Lamb served with crispy potato and a fabulously robust Portobello sauce that suffused the lamb with concentrated, earthy flavours. Had we been dining anywhere else, we would have certainly summoned a nice, BIG cab to the table; but Ajay cautioned, "Once the palate is on sake, stick to sake!" We soon discovered he had saved the best for last, an unfiltered Momo Kawa Nigori Sake.
Flattery and favouritisms ran rampant for both the dish and the sake. I loved the crunchy char on the rib eye and the intensity of the jus. The men seemed to gravitate to the pork, also Ajay’s personal favourite. "Guava glaze is amazing – suits it." "A little rind of fat, it’s divine. That gives it so much flavour." We loved the Nigori pairing experience and joked, "It’s the big ‘red’ of the sake world."
Caicos Lobster Tail
Desserts included a classic Tiramisu and Milk Chocolate Mousse, both by Chef Eric Vernice. Highly recommended is the Alphonso Mango Cheesecake, made with Alphonso mangoes. Named ‘king of the mango’ in India, they’re prized for their unmatched sweetness and superior quality.
Our final indulgence would be Solana’s Signature Cocktail, created by Ajay with strawberry, mango, coconut water and the superstar of sakes, Momo Kawa Nigori.
Ajay has always been the quintessential host. He is unquestionably knowledgeable and his enthusiasm for the industry is palpable. From start to finish, he is eager and determined to make your complete dining experience a memorable and exciting one.
With four restaurants now in their culinary repertoire, there is no doubt that owners Chris and Sarah Haggie have contributed significantly to developing the restaurant scene on Providenciales. Solana! Now joins the ranks of Garam Masala, Chopsticks and The Vix.
Photos by Lisa Adara Photography
Care was taken to ensure correctness of information at press time. Information is subject to change without notice. Ad Vantage Ltd. accepts no responsibility for such alterations or for typographical errors or omissions. Entire contents of this page may not be reproduced in any manner without written permission of Ad Vantage Ltd. © Jan/Feb 2017 Where When How - Turks & Caicos Islands.
- Contact details for Solana!
- The Best Turks & Caicos Restaurants, Cafés and Bars
- Read the “flippable” Providenciales Dining Guide online now!
- The Best Turks and Caicos Hotels, Resorts and Vacation Villa Rentals
- Turks and Caicos Shopping Guide
- Things To Do in the Turks and Caicos Islands: Helicopter Tours, Boat Excursions, Parasail, SCUBA Diving and much, much more!
- The Turks and Caicos Spa Experience
- Turks & Caicos Weather Forecast, Climate and Rainfall Charts