The Soule of cooking

Charles Soule

Surrounded by beautiful gardens and landscaping, a quaint log cabin built in the early 1930s is tucked away on a side street in Kings Beach, just shy of the Nevada/California state line. The restaurant Soule Domain has been in this location for 32 years.

The winter was tough on the property. Five large trees were lost during the storms. Owner and head chef Charlie Soule enlisted local artist Robert Edminster, aka Ro-Bear and Mr. Ed, to carve beautiful totems from the remaining trunks. Wooden turtles and native plants lead the way into the outdoor dining patio and entryway of the restaurant. When you enter the log cabin, you are surrounded by artifacts of days long gone juxtaposed with modern art depicting scenes of Tahoe and the lake.

The restaurant’s initial roots were in French cuisine, but the selection of food has evolved into what Soule calls a global concept menu.

In the back of the cabin is the restaurant’s greenhouse that barely survived the winter, according to Soule. The raised garden beds are filled with herbs and vegetables. Soule and his sous chefs use the herbs to enhance and garnish his delicious menu items. Last year, their garden yielded a plethora of cherry tomatoes. This year, the garden is home to beets, squash, chard, a variety of green leaf lettuces and lots of herbs including dill, rosemary, basil, oregano, parsley and two varieties of mint plants — chocolate and spearmint. The garden was born when Soule, his wife and friend were sitting around and got excited about gardening.

“We thought it’d be great to go out and grab the herbs and vegetables from the garden,” Soule says.

The summer has been busy at Soule Domain and the 40 seats inside and the eight patio seats are filled nightly.

Soule grew up in Tahoe and attended to Kings Beach Elementary.

“I wasn’t a chef when I started the restaurant. I had worked as a line cook and had no management experience. When we started the restaurant, I cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Soule says.

The restaurant’s initial roots were in French cuisine, but the selection of food has evolved into what Soule calls a global concept menu. “We are a melting pot. We use wine and butter sauces, which are classic French, but have also implemented Asian influences.”

The menu at Soule Domain changes seasonally with local favorites remaining throughout the year. Soule’s nightly specials include a variety of choices with seductive sauces such as Meyer lemon butter basil for the sea scallop appetizer and a ginger, jalapeno, mint and shoyu sauce for the shrimp starter.

He prepared for me one of his nightly salads: an Asian mixed-green salad, which included sliced peaches, cherries, fennel, gold beets, watermelon radish, cabbage and onions, sprinkled with sesame seeds and tossed with a shoyu ginger vinaigrette. It was light, refreshing and perfect for a summer night. The current nightly specials included a coho salmon grilled with a miso-ponzu sauce and a panko-roasted sea bass with fresh dill, braised leeks and a sauce prepared with Meyer lemons and caper butter.

Some of the menu items that are local favorites are the scallops poached in wine with a kiwi, mango cream sauce. The escargot appetizer is a huge hit on the menu, sautéed with fresh rosemary, shitake mushrooms, garlic, burgundy butter and served in a pastry shell. Here Soule’s French cuisine roots emerge. Although, there are curry dishes that offer a Thai twist to the menu selection.

Soule remains passionate about his business, menu and wines.

Soule Domain has a beautiful gourmet menu selection that is unique, whether your cravings are for land or sea. And, there’s a Tahoe price point that is amazing. There are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Chef Soule has emerged as one of the creative food artists in the area.

For more information or to make a reservation, call (530) 546-7529 or visit souledomain.com.


 

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Priya Hutner
Priya Hutner is a writer, personal chef and meditation teacher. She writes feature articles about music, art, food and recreation. Priya loves to immerse in story. Whether jumping from a plane, eating obscure foods or hitting the Tahoe-Reno music scene, she is always up for adventure and experience. Having moved to the mountains from Sebastian, Fla., she embraces the Tahoe lifestyle and loves to ski, hike, paddle and swim. Priya is the owner of the Seasoned Sage, a business that prepares organic meals and facilitates workshops that promote a health-conscious lifestyle. She is currently writing a memoir about her experience living on an ashram and working on a series of cookbooks. | priya@tahoethisweek.com