Bistro Sola is the project of Japanese chef-owner Motoya Otokozawa. The set menus are a mash-up of the Japanese emphasis on seafood with Italian classics like tortellini with an oxtail and porcini ragu and a French-style duck breast with orange sauce. The cooking is excellent. That said, dinner at Bistro Sola is an endlessly frustrating experience, from the extremely long waits between bite-sized courses (our four-course meal took three hours) to the unapologetically lackadaisacal and forgetful service staff who neglect basics like clearing used plates, filling water or even bringing silverware. Combined with a complete lack of music (and thus atmosphere) and no obvious care for the customer, Sola is, unfortunately, a very hard-to-recommend restaurant, despite the chef's obvious talent.
When visiting a restaurant for the first time, and one that has been recommended, I often, as most people would do, trawl the various online reviews, which I did when deciding to frequent Bistro Sola over the May Day break, the reviews were varied, mixed and confusing to say the least, was this the same venue.
A reservation was made for two, as my regular dining would be in attendance, an early start at 17h30, the venue is located along the very bottom end of Jiashan Lu closer to Zhaojiabang Lu.
Upon alighting from the taxi, and navigating my way through the black refuse sacks, and the electric bike should have given me cause to be concerned. Bistro Sola is spread over four floors, you enter through the service bar, up several flights of stairs, offered this floor or that floor whichever takes your fancy, even an upper floor which the waitress called the terrace (sic), more like laundry area for drying cooks clothing and storing junk, apparently the restaurant was booked solid, must of had several invisible guests because I could only count a table of six, and two tables of two seated, excluding our table of two.
Dogeared menus were offered for both and food drinks, along with plain table water by the surly waitress, who then disappeared (why do they do that) another waitress appeared took an order for two glasses of wine, I use glasses lightly, Bistro Sola is nowhere the Bund area, where venues serve thimbles of wine, on this May Holiday they do appear, not only do they serve wine in thimble amounts, they serve wines which are oxidised, corked, off, departed this world as we know it.
I was having none of this, forget about even attempting to order any food from the dog-eared misspelt menu, no matter how good the cook is supposed to be in this pseudo-Italian/ French / Japanese bistro called Bistro Sola. The waitress was called and explained that both wines were oxidised, corked, off, have it which way you want to call them, back and forth this went, and eventually I took the glasses to the downstairs service, the bar person, heaven forbid call him a barman, then started to argue with me that the wines were not corked, then agreed with me, but did not have the courtesy to waive the wines, I placed a 100Kuai note on the counter, I have not walked out of many restaurants, but left fuming on this occasion.
Bistro Sola is filthy, smelly and that just the front of the house, see the images. I can’t imagine what the back of house i.e. kitchen and fridges are like…..Gordon Ramsey would have a field day.
SmartShanghai.com is an independent media publication dedicated to honesty and editorial transparency. We are for Shanghai residents,
written by a team of long-term, opinionated and knowledgeable writers and editors. We never give an opinion or recommendation that we
wouldn’t also share with our own friends and family.