What to Eat in Napa Valley: Solbar's Lucky Pig
I'm a big fan of dinners that require some assembly at the table: give me some lettuce and pancakes for wrapping, sauces to smear, and free rein to create my own masterpiece, and I'm happy to roll up my sleeves. The classy patio at Solbar in Calistoga may not seem the most obvious place for freeform finger food, but their Lucky Pig is as delicious as it is fun. One order ($36) is big enough for two (or three) diners, making it the best value on the menu by far.
The duroc pork shoulder arrives in a casserole looking somewhat unassuming, but it's bigger than it may at first appear, and moist enough to be picked apart with chopsticks (or fingers). Sauce up each decadent morsel with peanut sauce, then wrap it in one of the delicate black sesame-studded pancakes or a leaf of lettuce, tucking in your choice of Vermicelli-and-carrot salad, roasted peanuts, lightly pickled pineapple slices, jalapenos, basil, cilantro, and mint. Each little roll is sweet and savory, with the fresh herbs balancing out the richness. Mix and match to your heart's desire—or throw it all in together in every bite—it's hard to go wrong with pork this good.
Though the Lucky Pig is all you really need, it would be a shame to skip appetizers. The Lily's Egg ($14) features a perfectly soft-boiled egg encased in a shatteringly crisp potato rosti shell. Though it's not for those who hate a runny yolk, breakfast-for-dinner fans could hardly do better than this.
There aren't any donuts on the dessert menu at Solbar anymore, but with a little pleading we scored an order of them anyway ($8). Served mouth-burningly hot with a dish of coffee crème anglaise for dipping, they were light as a puff of air, with a luscious, near-creamy center. I wish I'd snagged another basketful to save for the next morning's breakfast.