Solo on Main is a family run business with chef Lauren Van Dixhoorn at the helm, twin brother Paul on the bar and working the floor, and their sister Lyndsay, handling the restaurant’s business affairs. Port Stanley's new culinary hot spot is located in the heritage home previously occupied by the former Mickey’s Boathouse.
In seasonable weather there is a beautifully appointed patio and front porch that offers alfresco seating and great harbour views. Inside, there is a smart walnut bar in the lounge which is topped with quartz and has comfortable seats. The tasteful white linen dining room with its original hardwood floors is decorated in warm gray tones.
The cooking at Solo on Main is refined and the presentation modern and accessible. Van Dixhoorn and sous chef Brooke Cowitz are both alumnus of Niagara College's Canadian Food and Wine Institute in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The pair worked together later at Queen’s Landing.
The steelhead smoked trout frites are inspired with scallions, crème fraiche, crispy shallots and Guinness hollandaise - a fresh take on poutine. The classic bones and toast is roasted marrow bone with salt chimichurri and garlic rubbed bread.
Grilled calamari with pickled chili, fried garlic, chopped peanuts and soy caramel was delicious but the kitchen had challenges keeping the dish warm so they changed it. In its latest incarnation the calamari is being served puttanesca-style made up of anchovies, garlic, capers, tomatoes and chili peppers with preserved lemon and black olives.
There is a modern Italian flavour to the "Solo and Share Plates" menu, which is available all day, offering items like Nduja (spreadable pork sausage) crostini, ricotta and wild leek agnolotti (now out of season and replaced with a house-made pappardelle dish), mozzarella arancini and a daily risotto. At lunch there is also a breaded and deep fried provolone sandwich.
The evening menu features roast chicken, flank steak with chimichurri, and pan roasted tenderloin with shallot anchovy compound butter. There is battered or pan-fried pickerel and perch available at lunch and dinner.
The white wine list has 5 Ontario offerings but the red wine list is bereft of VQA’s or local wineries, but with several good American choices on hand. There are 4 craft beers, a cider, 2 drafts and several bottled beers to choose from.
These are very early days. The fledgling restaurant opened in mid-May and is showing tremendous potential as a culinary destination.
187 Main St. Port Stanley, 226 658 0999