We went to the Solano Grill and Bar on Saturday night in May 1999. We had made reservations, arrived on time and were seated promptly. Our glasses were filled with water, and we were then promptly abandoned. The one waiter that seemed to be serving our area stopped a couple of times to apologize, but not to actually take our orders. About 15 minutes after we got there we finally got some bread and butter, which was good - but it took probably 10 more minutes before the waiter came to take our orders (including our drink orders).
The problem seemed to be that there was only one waiter for the whole area where we were seated. There seemed to be there about 7 tables with people (I only counted them when we left, so there might have been more before), including one with a party of 10 - and only one waiter propper. I don't know if they were understaffed that night only, or in general, as no explanations for the slow service were forthcoming. The one thing that really irked us, though, was that people who had arrived after we had were served first, they had their drinks much before our orders were taken.
Anyway - we finally got to order. For an appetizer my husband chose the crab cakes and I had their Torta au Fromage. The crab cakes were delicious - I even liked them and I don't tend to eat such things. They were crispy and only a tad sweet. The torta au Fromage was also good, very smokey - though perhaps a tad too salty for my taste. But I would order it again.
We both ordered wine by the glass, I had the Cabernet Franc and my husband the Bordeaux, and they were both good - but we both liked the Bordeaux better. It was rather light but very buttery. '95 is supposed to be a very good year for bordeaux, and I would recommend that you try it if you go.
As entries, my husband ordered the lamb and I had the duck. He liked the lamb very much, and would certainly order it again. The duck, I thought, was rather unsuccesful. It came with a black currant sauce, and it couldn't decide whether it would be sweet or salty, and ended up bland. I don't usually salt my food, but even a bit of salt could not help it. The currants themselves were sour, but did little to confer any flavor on the duck. The cuscus that came with the dish was very good, however, I only wished there was more of it.
After dinner it took again forever before our dessert orders were taken. We thought we had been abandoned when we saw the waiter leave the restaurant - but apparently he was only moving his car. He said he'd ask someone else to come and take our dessert order, but they never did.
Anyway, I had the chocolate mousse torte and my husband had (I think) a banana cream pie (he's very partial to bananas). The torte was very good, very rich - though nothing extraordinary. I didn't try the banana pie, but my husband seemed to like it very much.
All in all dinner took about 2 and a half hours, and once we got used to the slow pace of it - it was very relaxing. It gave us a lot of time to talk and (with the firm exception of the duck), we really enjoyed it. We will probably go there again - so many of the other dishes in their menu sound so good!
Solano Grill & Bar
1133 Solano Ave.
Albany, CA 94706