NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> Solstice of Newtown officially opened its doors on Monday with a celebratory ribbon cutting ceremony just before noon and its first public dinner service in the evening.

On hand to welcome Bucks County’s newest restaurant were leaders of the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce, State Senator Steve Santarsiero and Newtown Township Supervisors John Mack and Dennis Fisher.

The new-build 9,245 square-foot restaurant at the Village at Newtown Shopping Center is offering hyper-seasonal menus using ingredients at their peak from the best available locations.

“It’s a beautiful vibe inside. It’s fresh, Young and energetic. And the food is out of this world,” said Lower Makefield resident Anna Darby, who owns the new restaurant with her husband, Terry. “Everyone should come and try it.”

“We’re very proud that we are finally having our grand opening,” added Anna. “We have worked on this for almost two years with many iterations through the architects and the designers and the food. We had many different food tastings and adjustments of recipes. And everything came out really beautiful. We are proud and happy and thank the whole team.”

The Darby’s, who are self-described foodies, came up with the idea of opening a restaurant for their son, Rick, who will eventually take over the operation.

Based on the philosophy of fresh, craveable food, as every seasonal solstice or equinox approaches (ie: the first official day of spring, summer, fall and winter), Solstice will unveil an updated menu including dishes that are reflective of what’s in season. And during each season Solstice will launch an ingredient-specific Peak of Season menu featuring one seasonal ingredient prepared and served in 3-4 different iterations. This special menu will only be available for a limited time while the ingredient is at its height of freshness and seasonality.

“Solstice is born out of a passion for product in looking at not only the quality of the product, but the freshness and taste of the product ,” said Bill Freeman, CEO of Captivate Hospitality Group. “And it became a concept that centers around the seasons.

“So what you’re going to see in Solstice is a food-borne, flavor-borne concept that evolves around the year,” said Freeman. “We change our menu at every equinox and at every solstice to take advantage of products around the world that are at their peak during that time period. And we’ll introduce between the equinox and the solstice a hyper-seasonal menu that will allow us to focus on one product.

“We look forward to you coming in and trying the different iterations of the menu throughout the years and try the different products that we have,” he said.

Freeman thanked Blue Rock Construction for working with Captivate to bring the project to fruition. He also thanked the restaurant’s general manager Christa Vigilante, executive chef Jason Audette and their teams for making the opening possible. And he thanked owners Anna and Terry Darby. “It’s their vision and passion that brought this to life,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate to work with them on the development of the concept. They brought a great sense of energy and also a vision for the community.

“Community is important to us,” he added. “Being in this market is about being in this community, not only because we live here, but that we think it’s important across the board. And one of the things we’re excited to announce this morning is that we have been able to bring 75 new jobs to the market,” he said. “And we’re also supporting the local community,” noting that Solstice held a fundraiser for A Woman’s Place on Sunday and plans to do more in the future for local groups and organizations.

“Solstice is about bringing and delivering an exceptional experience, both from a hospitality standpoint but also from a product standpoint,” he said.

Solstice will seat 165 inside the restaurant and bar, and once weather permits, a 2,500-square-foot outdoor patio space will accommodate an additional 80 diners complete with an eye-catching fire feature and edible garden, which will house some of the fresh herbs used in Solstice’s seasonal dishes and cocktails. Inside, during the peak hours of dinner service, guests will be treated to a show as the open kitchen design allows for diners to watch as fresh pasta is made from scratch every hour.

Executive Chef Jason Audette is leading the kitchen at Solstice. Audette’s knowledge of producers and growers from around the country will assist him in continually developing inventive, exciting dishes that will inform diners about the cycle of seasonal ingredients.

About the food

Over the weekend, Solstice hosted a soft opening for family, friends and members of the local press who were invited to preview the food and experience the area’s newest restaurant.

And all I can say is that Newtown and Bucks County are in for a real treat.

The menu for the evening included a varietal feast for the tastebuds, beginning with a tasty winter squash hummus served with toasted bread and root vegetables.

Next came the Parker House Rolls and the Deviled Egg Mason Jar.

Drizzled with apricot glaze and spread with Allspice Butter, the rolls were heavenly. I would highly recommend adding the rolls, which are served piping hot and pretty much melts in your mouth, to any meal.

The next course brought a beets and strawberry salad, which sparked a conversation at our table over beets. The salad was very tasty with its spring pea humus, pistachio crumble and elderflower vinaigrette.

The homemade pasta course included a generous helping of carrot spaghetti, which had a carrot-like texture, but have the appearance of real spaghetti. A delicious sauce completed this sure to be popular vegetarian dish.

For the main course, we sampled a deliciously cooked roasted chicken done with a carrot purée, roasted carnival cauliflower and Sherry chicken jus; jumbo lump crab cakes swimming with large chucks of crabmeat and served with classic coleslaw and Remoulade sauce; and slices of porterhouse steak with roasted carrots, heirloom baby potatoes, charred shallots and golden raisin chimichurri.

And topping off the experience were some of the best piping hot lavender spiced ricotta donut holes around, served with strawberry elderflower jam and yuzu cream anglaise. We also sampled a pumpkin pound cake.

Throughout our meal, the waiters and waitresses complemented each course with an appropriate wine. A younger guest as the table enjoyed one of the eatery’s wide assortment of mocktails. And we were all treated to a glass of champagne to raise a toast to Solstice’s success.

After sampling the menu, I am confident Solstice is going to be a hit. Reservations are recommended, especially on the weekends. Solstice will also be serving a Sunday brunch, which I hear is pretty good.

Solstice is open for lunch Monday-Fridayfrom 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.with an abbreviated menu available from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.Dinner will be offered Monday-Thursdayfrom 5 to 10 p.m., Friday 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday 4 to 11 p.m., Sunday 3 to 10 p.m., and brunch will be served on Sunday from 11 to 3 p.m.

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