Solace finally opens in Encinitas

North County Times Published on: 08/25/2011 by Lindsey Besecker

After months of delays and waiting, Solace & the Moonlight Lounge quietly opened its doors for dinner last week, adding another hot spot to the North County dining scene.

The sister restaurant to North Park’s Urban Solace, a local favorite, Solace sits on the north end of Pacific Station in Encinitas, serving plenty of modern comfort food and seafood.

Chef/owner Matt Gordon said Solace has been busy since its opening, with great feedback from diners in the opening nights.

“We plan on being here a long time, so a few months late is no big deal,” Gordon said.

While a handful of Urban Solace staples —- such as the Warm Cheddar & Chive Biscuits, Watermelon/Tomato/Cucumber Salad, BBQ Glazed Duroc Pork Belly, and Grilled Four Cheese Sandwich With Fresh Basil And Tomato And Creamy Tomato-Fennel Soup —- have migrated north, a few customer favorites remain on the North Park menu only, including the Duckaroni and Pulled Chicken And Buttermilk Dumplings.

But what Solace lacks in standbys, it more than makes up for in seafood dishes, which Gordon said pays tribute to the new location’s proximity to the ocean.

Seafood dishes include Mustard Crusted Local Halibut With Farro Stew And Toasted Black Pepper Sauce; Sumac Rubbed Wild Salmon With Toasted Quinoa, Spiced Butter Sauce And Roasted Lemon; Smoked Sea Salt & Sugar Glazed Black Bass With Fennel Braised Root Vegetable Hash; and more.

“We want to have fun and do some new stuff,” Gordon said. “It (the menu) flows together.”

The North Park restaurant’s menu is also a reflection of its location. Urban Solace took over a building that had a French Quarter feel; Southern-style comfort food fit the mold. With Solace, Gordon and his team were able to decide the design and feel themselves.

The new Solace space has a downstairs dining room and an upstairs lounge with a “raw bar” that serves oysters, steak tartare and more. There are also cheese plates and salumi available upstairs.

As far as the design, the downstairs dining area is split into two areas, with stairs and a servers’ station acting as the divider in the middle. The north side offers more natural light with large windows facing E Street, with benches lining the walls and wood decorating much of the space.

The south side shares space with the kitchen, offering a noisier, more bustling atmosphere. There’s also a patio outside, though Gordon sees that more as a lunch space.

Upstairs, plenty of bar-height tables take up the floor space not occupied by the large wood-paneled bar. There’s another outdoor seating area upstairs, and Gordon said the whole place can seat up to 190 guests. Upstairs patrons can order off the full menu as well as from a bar and raw bar menu. Reservations can be made for the downstairs area, while upstairs is open seating (but as witnessed on a recent weeknight, it fills up fast).

The goal in both restaurants is not supposed to be about design, Gordon said. “We want people to remember, first and foremost, who they ate with, the company they had. Then, great service, and we hope in all of that, the food filled the last little hole.”

Drink-wise, Solace partnered with Blind Tiger Cocktail Co. to create the cocktails for the new location. Gordon said his wife concocted the drinks at Urban Solace, but found she didn’t have time to also take up the task at Solace, so she worked alongside Blind Tiger to fine-tune the new creations.

Solace also offers several craft beers on tap, including Airdale and Green Flash; it’s also one of the first restaurants in the area to offer draft wine.

The wines, mostly from Paso Robles and the northern California wine country, come in casks that hold 25 bottles and are offered by the glass.

Now that the doors have been open for dinner for almost two weeks, Solace plans to begin offering lunch next week, with brunch hopefully coming along in early September.

Gordon said he was already looking for a second location when the developer for Pacific Station contacted him about the project a few years ago. Gordon said he came up to check out the location and felt in his gut that Encinitas was the right choice.

“When we opened Urban Solace, it was an old building, but you could feel change in the air,” he said. “That’s exactly what I felt standing in a dirt strip over there.”

Gordon said Encinitas has become a downtown hub for North County residents, with many restaurants filling by 6 p.m. And when he started getting more diners from the area down at Urban Solace, he knew there was a need for something similar up north.

“We want to be that restaurant … that chef-driven restaurant, on that corner,” like other neighborhoods have, Gordon said.

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View this Article at North County Times

  • Brunch Callout

  • Hours Callout

    Open for Lunch at 11:30am

    Mon - Tues, Kitchen closes at 9:00pm
    Wed - Thurs, Kitchen closes at 10:00pm
    Friday Kitchen closes at 11pm

    Brunch begins at:
    10:30am Sat. & 9:30am Sun.

    Saturday Kitchen closes at 11 pm
    Sunday Kitchen at 9pm

    The Moonlight Lounge will remain open one hour after dinner.

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