At last, some happy news. J.P. Samuelson, late of the dearly departed JP American Bistro in Uptown, is joining the Tim McKee and Josh Thoma crew and will be taking over Solera sometime after Valentine’s Day. Of course, this means he will be leaving Nick and Eddie, but I think we can call this a win-win for the Twin Cities dining community.
Win One: It frees up longtime Solera staffers to work at new McKee/Thoma projects—the new Barrio in St. Paul, and the forthcoming sustainable seafood project at the former Cue (for more on that: see my earlier blog post).
Win Two: J.P. is a great chef with a sensibility that meshes the delicate (a vif grapefruit slices and light herb emulsions) and the bold (thunderous curries), which should translate gorgeously to Solera’s menu of Spanish tapas.
McKee and Samuelson last worked together a decade ago at D’Amico Cucina, when Samuelson had just returned from a long stint in New York, where he worked for David Bouley, among others. “J.P. worked for me for a short time when he was getting ready to start Bobino,” McKee told me. “He is a fantastic chef, and it’s kind of cool to have him back in play and working with us. Solera is such a goddamn fantastic restaurant too,” said McKee, “but it’s not as busy at it should be. Hopefully this will get people talking.”
So, people, talk!