(map) It may be brand-new, but Lake Travis hot-spot Soleil just grabbed Texas Monthly’s pick for fave of the month. The Mediterranean-and-seafood-oriented menu was created by Robert del Grande, one of the most noted chefs in Houston (he’s kind of a big deal. See a list of his awards here). And while there are superstars like steaks and lobster, the “sophisticated but approachable” menu also features house-made pastas, salads, creative pizzas, even burgers.
Soleil’s sunset looks like the famous view from The Oasis because it’s right next door.
There are two dining rooms, contemporary in feel, but warmed by paneling of reclaimed wood. The oversized windows are actually doors that can roll up in warmer weather to catch the breezes off the lake.
Arty touches abound. Different styles of sculpture, from this one that looks like melting coffee gelato…
…to this wooden sunburst…
…to a trio of colorful deer heads festively decorated for the season.
There’s an open kitchen with a bar in front where you’re welcome to sit, eat and catch all the action.
Soleil has a separate raw bar called Azure Seafood Bar & Lounge. It’s a slightly more casual version of the restaurant, when you just want to grab a drink and some fresh ceviche, shrimp cocktail or other small plates.
There’s a stone pizza oven that turns out five creative pizzas. Above, the White Cheese Pizza with Gorgonzola, Wild Mushrooms, Prosciutto & Arugula. The crispy crust showcased an outstanding blend of flavors. The tangy gorgonzola contrasted with the sweetness of caramelized onions, and the saltiness of the prosciutto matched the aged-balsamic vinaigrette lightly dressing the arugula.
There’s a regular burger, but this one is a shrimp burger: The Handmade Ground Shrimp Burger with Remoulade. Ground shrimp is formed into a burger patty, grilled so it’s juicy, covered with micro-greens, and topped with a slightly spicy remoulade sauce. The crispy fries are hand-cut and seasoned with sea salt.
The architect designed “The Plank” so people could walk out and get their pictures taken overlooking the sunset. To avoid the problem of having your face in darkness from the backlighting, he installed a subtle light so both you and the view come out looking equally good. This guy had ridden over to check it out.