Solis is the Ibeiran-South American grill joint from Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng, the brains behind TĀ TĀ Eatery
The restaurant was the final piece of the Arcade Food Hall Battersea puzzle and the last of the three standalone restaurants (burger joint Manna and a branch of BAO Noodle Shop being the other two) to open.
Named after Juan Díaz de Solis, a 16th-century explorer believed to be the first European to land in Uruguay, Solis is a homage to the traditional parrillas of Montevideo, with hardwood furniture, blue & white checked tablecloths and antiques filling the space, and South American music coming out of the speakers. The team has tried hard to establish an aesthetic and create a vibe in what is a large unit inside an even larger shopping centre. If you avoid looking at the entrance, and the retailers beyond it, you can start to buy into the idea, and once things start arriving at the table, like a potent Tinto de Verano sangria, you can start to believe it.
The Solis menu draws on flavours from Spain, Portugal, Uruguay and Argentina – it’s not really one for the veggies it has to be said – and its simplicity has allowed them to execute the food to an impressively high standard. Take the beef and caramelised onion croquetas; they’ve got a really crisp but really thin shell, which cracks to reveal a rich, savoury molten centre, and then it’s given an extra little punch from mustard mayo underneath.
Steak and chicken are at the centre of what Solis is about, with both meats available on their own or as a combo meal with fries and an onion and tomato asador salad. The half-spatchcock chicken is astonishingly succulent and juicy, burnished with a vibrant orange aji-aji oil that’s sweet and fruity rather than hot. The steak is well cooked, a charred crust giving way to a rosy centre, and comes with the Solis take on an entrecote sauce, mustardy and laden with tarragon, and aggressively seasoned fries – no opportunity to add flavour is missed here. The combo meals also represent great value for the quality of cooking on display; steak, chips and salad for £20 is extremely reasonable and £15 for the chicken, especially when you think that a half chicken and two sides at Nando’s is almost £16.50, is even better.
Meat may be the headline but the standout dish might just be the torta de queso. The cheesecake, with its charred top and just set bottom, can’t support its own weight so the wonderfully creamy middle oozes out of the sides like a ripe brie. The blueberry compote is tart but not too tart, the filling is luscious, the sprinkle of salt across the top lifts the whole thing… do not skip dessert.
As Arcade’s standalone restaurants go, Plaza Khao Gaeng at the Tottenham Court Road site manages to feel more like its own distinct entity than Solis (likely because it’s much more enclosed) but the food is on a much more even footing.
Solis has been designed to be a crowd pleaser and to do food at volume – it’s why it’s in the location it is, backed up by the torrent of people heading out of the tube station and into Battersea Power Station on a Saturday lunchtime – but the kitchen is proving that food at scale can also be exciting.
Arcade Food Hall, Battersea Power Station, Circus Road W, London, SW11 8AL