Victor Garvey’s homage to California cuisine is an accomplished and curious addition to London’s restaurant scene
Proving that Californian cooking isn’t all avocado toast, shrimp tostadas and In-N-Out Burger, Victor Garvey’s homage to the food of America’s Pacific West Coast offers one of the capital’s most enthrallingly singular restaurant experiences.
SO|LA – a portmanteau of Soho and Los Angeles – celebrates the modern cuisine of California, bringing a taste of The Golden State to central London. Garvey launched the concept on the site of his beloved Catalan restaurant Rambla back in 2019, describing the decision at the time as an opportunity for him to ‘feel freer and be more able to express himself’ gastronomically.
Taking its cues from California’s chef-led food movement, which heralds from the 1960s and places an emphasis on using local and sustainable ingredients with an attention to seasonality, SO|LA serves two menus – a prix fixe with five courses; or a full, 10-course tasting menu. The fusion cooking takes influences from a range of countries including Japan, Mexico and France, with Garvey weaving in a variety of interesting flavours.
Dishes to feature on the regularly changing menu include crab with pea, miso and tosazu; langoustine with foie gras, mushroom, ginger and dashi; and duck ‘gisele’ with olive, artichoke and truffle.
Garvey’s creative cooking is served in an elegant, intimate dining room, where abundant plants and sculptural lighting evoke the lush greenery and sunshine of The Golden State. The sense of place also extends to the US-heavy wine list, which includes a wide variety of the West Coast labels alongside some from New York State. They include a low-intervention Tendu Clarksburg Cortese from Jill and Steve Matthiasson, and a Garnacha Blanca from Kongsgaard winemaker Evan Frazier’s side project Ferdinand Wines.