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Solace & The Moonlight Lounge

Experience excellent food and ambience at Solace & The Moonlight Lounge in downtown Encinitas, on D Street near the train tracks. They use only the best ingredients for their delicious and unique comfort foods. Indulge in high quality meats, seafood and cheeses. they have an upstairs bar overseen by the "Dude's" portrait over the bar.  Their speciality drink, called the "Great Damson" is a refreshing exotic concoction that can't be missed. Try their fresh shucked oysters, melty grilled cheese sandwich accompanied with signature tomato soup and fries or warm Cheddar and Chive Biscuits served with Orange Honey Butter and Smoked Tomato jam.  They are all out of this world! The excellent attention to flavor and quality of ingredients in each dish is obvious!  The staff is friendly and sweet. Open daily and Saturday and Sunday mornings for brunch. A weekend must is the amazing cinnamon rolls, don't miss them!

Spotlight Article: Solace & the Moonlight Lounge: Exercise your Senses

Solace & the Moonlight Lounge is one of the few restaurants in Encinitas that caters to a crowd who believes that fresh and local is the only way to eat. This trend has become widely known as the farm-to-table movement, which simply means: producing food locally and then delivering it to local consumers. So, instead of eating carrots shipped from Canada and chicken shipped from Wisconsin - restaurants, consumers and even some grocery stores source their meats, cheeses and produce from the closest point of origin.

“The less it has to travel, the fresher it’s going to taste. That’s a no-brainer to me,” said Matt Gordon. “I want to know the source of my food. I don’t want it to come from a pond or farm in another country.”

Matt is certainly not alone in his forward thinking.  But perhaps more influential than the movement itself is the idea that buying from local farmers and fisherman puts money back into local economies and supports the livelihood of small, local operators so that they can continue to produce fresh, delicious, local foods.

“Supporting the local economy, helping promote economic growth — that benefits everyone,” Gordon said. “If we don’t eat locally, we’re hurting our own economy and supporting a distant one.”

Which is why in addition to sourcing eggs, vegetables and cheeses from our local farmers, Matt Gordon, Executive Chef at Solace and the moonlight Lounge, is serving up some of the citys best and freshest eats. Favorites include The Best Darn “Buttermilk” Cinnamon Roll (only available on the weekends); The Kitchen Sink; Oysters on the Half Shell and Honey Glazed Wild Sockeye Salmon.

In fact, as I was writing this delicious article, Matt reached out and invited me to come down to Solace to make what he claimed was the Best Cinnamon Roll I was ever going to eat. Personally,  I find that the temptation of a warm, gooey cinnamon roll for breakfast is one that is almost impossible to beat. Seriously, YOU all know what I’m talking about! The gooey smell (yes, it does exists), yeast, cinnamon, nutmeg and the buttery sweetness of frosting; that inevitably is going to invite me to pour myself another cup of coffee and take a moment to savor “what was about to become”  a beautiful morning with Matt Gordon.

I arrived as early as they would let me. Hey, I’m excitable--and boy was I in for a surprise.  Matt had set up the whole kitchen in preparation for teaching me how to make his all mighty cinnamon rolls. As we began to mix these ingredients together, I got a chance to learn about Solace and what makes this restaurant an instant favorite among the community.

On Aug 15 of 2011 Solace and the Moonlight Lounge opened it doors to the public with one mission in mind “Bringing quality produce farm side to table side, right down to the most basic ingredients.” Matt explained.

Solace is considered to be at the forefront of the farm to table movement. Matt and his team spent nearly a year prior to opening Solace replacing and forming new recipes for their menu. Matt also received an opportunity of a lifetime; to design Solace from the ground up in Pacific Station.

“Not many chefs get the opportunity to create their “actual” space, so when Pacific Station approached me about creating Solace I made sure that our entire space was built with forward thinking. We are a LEED certified building and we take pride in knowing that we designed Solace with environmental, economic, and occupant-oriented comfort in mind. It costs us less to operate, maintain and is energy and water-efficient.” said Matt

It was about this time that Matt started seducing our camera crew and myself with some fresh ground nutmeg. Surprising right?  But as he explained “Nutmeg is a delicate, spicy flavor that starts to dissipate shortly after being ground and you really can get a lot more flavor out of a much smaller amount than you would with pre ground. Just smell this.” he said.  As my nose inhaled this aromatic spice, I could only look at Matt’s smile as he tossed it on top of cinnamon sugar filling, “ See I told you!”

As he began to tightly roll what would soon become my Saturday morning we started talking about the trials and triumphs that Matt has experienced over the years.

What do you believe is your biggest secret to success?

“Not giving up! There have been some challenging times over the years. In my path to becoming a chef and then “in turn” owning a restaurant-  you can't give up. Just push ahead, work hard, be smart about money and stay relevant.”

What has been your biggest obstacle you've had to overcome starting this business?  

“Raising money is a big challenge. Everyone knows that restaurants are a risky investment and have a finite lifespan, so raising money is and always will be a challenge.”

Random thought but you're scheduled for the electric chair.  What's your last meal?  

“Morbid! Do they still use electric chairs?  Pancakes, crab legs, ice cream, prime rib and a baked potato will do.”

What do you cook yourself and your family at home?

“Not much! I am not home at night very often and we go out if I am around; but i do like grilling in the summer and having taco night. I like making breakfast at home too.”

I can certainly understand why; as Matt puts the finishing touches on our rolls and slide them into the oven. “Now’s the fun part” he teased “waiting.”

As we kicked back, chatted and waited for our cinnamon sweetness; I couldn’t help but notice how Matt’s entire team worked together so well. Service is not forced here and neither is the vibrant atmosphere that is seemly watched over by Mr. Lebowski himself. “AKA, his Dudeness, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing that is.”

Now the moment you’ve all been reading for. Where, oh where do I begin? It’s a rare day when I’m at a total loss for words, but I seriously don’t know how to explain the magnitude of this incredible, succulent Cinnamon Roll. I wish you could just reach in through your computer and grab one of these moist and delicate clouds of doughy, puffy deliciousness!

Imagine a big, warm, super moist, dense pastry, filled with tunnels of thick, drippy, cinnamon-y sweetness, studded with crunchy pecans, and then topped with a thick Cream Cheese Frosting.

I  just wish I had the verbal ability to explain them to you, without you actually hearing my giggles of joy to make my point more clear. And please don’t stop at the cinnamon rolls; there is always something on this menu that is a revelation of how something should taste. On one visit you’ll get the kitchen sink; another visit, grilled asparagus; and on occasion some aged paso prime beef. There's an unsurpassed respect for ingredients and a clarity of style that emerges no matter what menu item it is or what season.

Special thanks to Matt Gordon and his team at Solace and the moonlight lounge for letting It’sEncnitas.com come and be part of the family for a day. We certainly enjoyed our time and we look forward to coming back time and time again.

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