This past weekend, I met up with CC of Pink Candles at Ridgemont High for lunch at Solare Ristorante & Lounge. I’m always on the hunt for good Italian food and the reviews seemed promising.

The restaurant is located in Liberty Station and looks quite nice from the outside. I should have snapped a photo. I was running late and thought I’d snap one when I left, but I forgot.

It was such a nice day, we requested to sit outside.

We were served some complimentary bread with olive oil. The bread was just alright. We didn’t eat much of the basket.

After perusing the menu, we decided to share a pizza and a pasta.

Spaghetti Carbonara

CC mentioned she had never had carbonara and wanted to try it. I always smile when I see carbonara on a menu. The first time Mr. K cooked me a meal on his own, he attempted to make spaghetti carbonara. He had just come back from a winter vacation in Rome and his aunt taught him how to make it. Part of the process involves cracking a raw egg into the steaming hot pasta dish, and then tossing the noodles, which also cooks the egg. Unfortunately, Mr. K’s version ended up being a complete disaster. His slow cooking skills led to raw egg galore in our pasta. We still love laughing about the memory though.

Anyway, I did finally have proper carbonara in Rome, so I was happy to try out Solare’s version.

We both enjoyed the crispy pancetta on top. I also liked that the noodles were cooked al dente. While this version didn’t quite match up to what I ate in Rome (it was a little too eggy for me), it was a decent version and we polished off our plate. It also made me really want to try making my own.

Unfortunately, things took a turn for the less positive after that.

I know it’s dangerous to call something “the best.” But I’ve found my favorite/best soft chocolate chip cookie recipe. Previously, my all time favorite soft chocolate chip cookie was this one, which uses pudding mix to help the soft texture.

While I still enjoy that recipe, I love that this one doesn’t need pudding mix as I don’t always have it on hand. I also prefer the color and shape of these cookies.

Tea Garden recently had its grand re-opening. It previously had occupied the space next to Pangea Bakery, but then moved to a nearby plaza. Despite the re-opening, the menu is exactly the same. The space is now divided into two areas, which makes the dining sections look smaller.

Our last few visits to Tea Garden had only been for their milk tea. I’ve really enjoyed the roasted oolong milk tea. With the grand re-opening, we decided to give the food another try too.

The whiteboard featured some of their most popular items.

Minced Pork Stew Rice

This is a popular Taiwanese dish. The braised pork belly is cooked in a thick broth made of soy sauce and spices. Its served over rice, with the sauce flavoring the rice. I thought this was a decent version, but I prefer the versions I’ve had in LA.

Lunch dishes come with either black or green tea.