Asolare Stays on Top with Enticing Libations, Invigorated Menu Options

Stop by Asolare for exciting libations from Kim Holland, at far left, tasty treats from their new bar menu, above, and impressive eats at the tables, center.

In the wake of restaurant company Integrated Assets’ financial struggles last year, one of the company’s restaurants has emerged with invigorated menu options, inspired chefs and enticing libations.

Perched above Cruz Bay, Asolare has long been a mainstay of Love City’s fine dining scene. With its commanding view, the scenery has always been a main attraction of the restaurant. But now Asolare’s vantage point is just one of the draws at Winston Bennett’s showpiece restaurant.

Bennett, who formerly owned Integrated Assets, used to oversee Chole and Bernards, Chateaux Bordeaux, Paradiso and Asolare.
With Chole and Bernards and Chateaux Bordeaux closed and Paradiso under new ownership, Bennett has given Asolare the attention it deserves and it shows — in all facets of the high-end establishment.

Upon first entering the historic-feeling stone structure at Lind Point, diners are whisked to the bar where they are in for a treat. Mixologist Kim Holland has crafted one of the most impressive drink menus on St. John.

Relying heavily on local spices and flavors, Holland’s offerings range from the refreshing nonalcoholic Chichi Lala, a thirst quenching concoction of muddled cucumber, fresh lime and cranberry, to the potent digestif Port-au-Prince, a tantalizing mixture of Barbancourt 8 year, Cherry Herring, Orange and local gooseberry.

Other highlights on Holland’s drink menu include the Holland Tunnel — made with New Amsterdam gin, passionfruit, the Caribbean liqueur Falernum and organic cinnamon from St. Lucia — and the Lemongrass Lemondrop, a grown up version of the spring break special crafted only with house infused lemongrass vodka and simple syrup.

Holland also infuses her own  rum and tequila. The Sorrell Rita, a simple blend of Holland’s sorrell infused tequila mixed 100 percent agave tequila, is pure perfection.

“My inspiration is to keep things as local as possible,” said Holland. “I tell people they can get a raspberry colada anywhere, but where else are they going to get a house infused bay rum or sorrell infused tequila?”

Proving her point, Holland talked a tourist into having his Knob Creek on the rocks rimmed with a local smoky honey, which Holland extracted herself.

“This was one of the first hives we relocated,” said Holland. “It was probably eight years old, which is why it tastes so smoky. And since Knob Creek is smoky, they just go together really well.”

If you don’t make it past the bar, have no fear. Asolare’s new bar menu offers ample portions of exciting fare at affordable prices.

Try the BLT, brimming with house cured bacon atop handmade bread served with a tempura cherry tomato and greens grown right outside of the restaurant’s door.

The house smoked copper river salmon is served with pickled red onions on toasted pumpernickel bread and topped with citrus creme fresh. Other bar menu options are tempura leeks served with red curry hollandaise, and jerk seared shrimp with a light mango tequila salsa and grilled pineapple.

With prices ranging from $5 for edamame to $13 for the smoked salmon, Asolare’s bar menu is a perfect option for light dinners or pre-entree noshes.

For more heartier appetites, let chefs Tom Ghinazzi, Jon Balak and Fabian Angol delight your senses. The Culinary Institute of America-trained chefs Ghinazzi and Balak have created a four course tasting menu that was priced at $55 on a recent evening.

Choose from jerk seared shrimp or BLT for the first course, before deciding between the silken gazpacho drizzled with cilantro oil and a bright carrot ginger salad.

Main course options on the tasting menu were a pan seared mahi mahi with baby bok choy with a coconut green tea emulsion and coriander-honey glazed duck breast with grilled summer squash and port duck jus.

Ordering off the regular menu is just as rewarding. Highlights include a local tuna tartar served atop a bed of wakame salad, a refreshingly different spinach salad with port sage brown butter and a pan seared grouper served with red wine braised quinoa and coconut mushroom sauce.

Be sure to save room for desserts, which are made in house and change often. On a recent night, the sweet offerings included an airy profiterole drizzled with dark chocolate sauce, a creamy key lime pie topped with baked merengue and blackberry champagne poached pears.

Just like Holland at the bar, Ghinazzi and Balak let their surroundings dictate their menu.

“We try as much as possible to make the menu reflect the Caribbean and the island,” said Ghinazzi.

“If the spices aren’t local here, they’re local to the Caribbean,” said Balak. “We try to keep things light and local.”

Let Ghinazzi, Balak, Angol and the entire Asolare staff show you their take on local and light — it’s sure to be impressive. Asolare is open seven nights a week from 5:15 to 9 p.m. For Reservations call 779-4747.