[Aughton, Lancashire] Solo

We last visited Solo in 2022, not too long after it had opened. We liked the food on that visit but the long waits between each course made for a less than pleasant evening. We thought we probably wouldn’t come back, not least as it’s over an hour’s drive from home. But a few weeks back, we thought we should at least give it a second chance - not least as it now has a Michelin star… Glad we did, as the timings have been sorted and the food still rocks.

It’s still a six course fixed menu, very well priced at £98 and designed for omnivores (there are separate pescatarian and vegetarian menus). There’s a generous offering of a good sourdough with Maldon sea salt butter. The menu opens with a pork dish, taken from the Oxford Sandy & Black pig. It’s a rare breed that, so Google tells me, nearly went extinct 20 years back. It’s damn tasty so, hopefully, breeders will continue to raise them and businesses will continue to sell the pork. Here it’s been cooked to the texture of pulled pork and compressed into an oblong, glazed with maple syrup. For contrast, there’s a slice of raw cauliflower, some cauli puree and a dab or two of apple sauce. We reckoned it was the best savoury course we ate.

Then a small piece of turbot, firm and almost meaty, topped with a nori crumb. A scattering of seaside herbs brings a freshness and the dish is rounded off with a couple of balls of new potato from just down the road in Rufford (food miles – 9). The next course was always going to divide us – my partner hates eel with a vengeance, while I quite like it. It’s lightly smoked (nowhere near as heavily as we’ve both eaten it in the Netherlands). A horseradish flavoured dashi broth worked well, as did shreds of mooli for a bit of crispness. My partner took a bite of the eel, more to confirm her dislike than anything else, but left the rest. That could have been “seconds” for me but, whilst I found it OK, my own serving was enough.

Guinea hen came as a little piece of breast and some leg meat. Both nicely cooked and well paired with two sauces – one a light jus from the cooking, the other mushroom and vin jaune. Asparagus, still perfectly “al dente”, was a very seasonal accompaniment.

At this point, we debated whether to take the optional cheese course. Nah, we’ll not bother. Well, we could just have one and share it. Well, we might as well have one each then. If you knew us, you’d know that was an inevitable decision. And a good decision. We love a cheese trolley – it always suggests an effort has gone into the course. It also means you’re not going to get cheese still cold from the fridge. There’s ten or so cheeses, all British. You get to pick four each and, between us, we tried seven. I can’t recall all the names, except a mature Red Leicester and Mrs Kirkhams Lancashire (food miles – 30). There was also a British camembert-ish and a lovely, very goaty, one and a Scottish ewe’s milk. Thought has gone into the accompaniments – very thin caraway crackers, membrillo, grapes, celery and a lovely fruit loaf. Best cheese course we’ve eaten in ages.

The first dessert brought shreds of rhubarb – cooked but still with a lot of texture. It was quite sour. Not overly so but softened by the accompanying caramelised white chocolate. The second dessert was outstanding. The restaurant deserves its Michelin star almost on the strength of this alone. Strips of apple had been coiled round each other and poached till soft, but not overly so. There’s a maple verjus (a nice touch bringing back the maple from the first course, into the last). There’s dabs of sharp apple jelly. And, served in a separate dish, an apple sorbet decorated with apple matchsticks. It’s very clever and very delicious.

Service had been excellent and, as mentioned earlier, the courses well paced. The one of us who drinks alcohol enjoyed the wine flight. We’d had a nice evening and, really, that’s all you want.


Sounded absolutely divine, John!