In an attempt not to judge L’Enoteca too harshly in the hope that the problems we experienced on this particular evening were nothing more than mere interim problems for a seemingly new tapas bar and restaurant, on this occasion, dinner at L’Enoteca, was average at best.
First up the reservation system, their email booking service was tardy with a response but this could be easily forgiven. What was less forgiving was the table that we were assigned especially considering that our reservation was made more than a month and a half prior. Forced into an intimate dinning situation on a small cafe style table had already set the evening on a rocky path especially when just behind us was a perfectly suitable table/semi booth with just 3 patrons enjoying the comfort of a table that should have been earmarked for a bigger group (perhaps a group that had made a booking over a month prior)!
But putting all this aside and ready with baited anticipation to tuck into some good tapas and Italian cuisine we set out on our mission to discover the flavours that L’Enoteca boasts so proudly on their website. Taste buds in gear and ready to be mesmerised by Italian flavours we were soon awakened to the harsh reality that the night would be filled by a series of “hit and miss” dishes. While some dishes excelled in flavour others violated the taste buds!
L’Enoteca – Average overall rating (based on food, service & atmosphere): 4.5/10
Tapas of Arancini – four cheese, Polpetta – Italian meatballs in tomato ragu, Char grilled king prawns & Stuffed field mushroom with ricotta.
Ordered by: Shared Tapas
Average rating: 4/10
Alex – Having been to L’Enoteca previously for the spatchcock, I had very high hopes and anticipations of their mains and tapas; sadly I was extremely disappointed with what was presented. Nothing was overwhelming delectable or different to anything else that I had elsewhere. The stuffed field mushrooms really need to be revoked of their name and replaced with Fungi Del ricotta. The tomato ragu sauce with the meatballs was gorgeously rich but the meat itself was nothing more than a packet of mince minus flavouring rolled together. As for the prawns, yawn, flavourless and just frustrating to eat on a supposedly “tapas” table the size of a boogie board.
Mel – Disappointing, as to me not one single dish was anything above average. As a tapas bar we opted to share and sample various dishes, however the presentation and flavour lacked and the plates so big and our table so small it was difficult to the point of laughable.
Emer – Of the four shared entrees ordered, I tried three, and my preference in order was the arancini, the meatballs and the stuffed mushrooms. The servings were generous for tapas style, three large items in each dish. Arancini were moist and full of cheese flavours, and while they could have been seasoned better, I enjoyed the texture and the accompanying pesto was just the right balance. The meatballs in tomato ragu were delicious, ragu was fresh and tasty and the meatballs well cooked, if a little too large. The most disappointing for me were the stuffed field mushrooms, lacking in flavour, with too much ricotta and too little else, no exciting tastes which was disappointing as it reads well on the menu and I was looking forward to trying them.
Joey – When the tapas arrived at our “petite” table it hummed with decadent flavour and I could not wait to get stuck in, sadly my excitement was short lived! The stuffed field mushrooms were anything but stuffed, it just oozed with too much ricotta, and the arancini lacked any sort of seasoning but the meatballs thankfully saved the day! They could have been a little smaller to absorb more flavour but out of the 4 tapas (the prawns in my opinion not even worth mentioning) the meatballs had a depth of flavour by comparison to the other dishes at the table.
Main Course (ranked):
1. Roasted spatchcock, marinated in garlic & chilli served with roasted garlic potatoes & sautéed asparagus
Ordered by: Emer
Average rating: 7/10
For main, I had the spatchcock, which was beautifully cooked; flavours of chilli and garlic were just right, not overpowering, and accompanied by roast potatoes and asparagus – again the serving size was generous and I thoroughly enjoyed my main.
2. Handmade potato gnocchi with a creamy dolce gorgonzola & pistachio sauce, topped with parmigiano reggiano
Ordered by: Mel
Average rating: 6.5/10
A recommendation from our waitress, I was very much looking forward to light, fluffy pillows of gnocchi with a creamy, cheesy sauce. That is exactly what I got. The sauce was rich and flavoursome and the gnocchi so light and fluffy that it practically melted on the tongue. I enjoyed the dish very much (as did my fellow guests who weren’t enjoying their dish so well) however I would have loved some sort of salad to help cut through the heaviness of the sauce.
3. Duck risotto, porcini mushrooms & spinach
Ordered by: Ms. D
Average rating: 6/10
This was an impressive looking dish when it arrived. There was a huge amount of risotto and two large pieces of duck arranged on the plate. The risotto was quite different to your typical risotto due to the chunky pieces of juicy mushrooms and cooked spinach through it. It was more a mushroom stew with some Arborio rice added to it than a traditional risotto. No matter, I really enjoyed it as I’m a huge fan of mushrooms. The risotto was the highlight of the dish. I found the duck to be pleasant but there was nothing special about it.
4. Grilled veal rib eye, with roasted pumpkin, grilled witlof, beans provincial & a salsa verde
Ordered by: Alex
Average rating: 3/10
The Veal tasted more like a well-seasoned bull, the beans were undercooked and my meal came with more than I had bargained. Having said that, the staff were extremely judicious and handled the situation appropriately.
5. Pappardelle with rabbit ragu
Ordered by: Joey
Average rating: 2/10
Main for me was the worst of the night!!! The pasta was overcooked and under seasoned but most disappointing was the ragu itself. The rabbit was tough and again under seasoned. My expectations of a well-seasoned, al dente pappardelle with a “melt in the mouth” ragu came to a crashing halt. But I do take my hat off to the staff who expressed genuine concerns over my leaving an entire dish barely touched and this was put forward to the chef and management with their promise to address these issues going forward.
Baci semifreddo with frangelico chocolate sauce & Pannacotta served with balsamic strawberries marinated in 4 year old vincotto.
Ordered by: Shared Dessert
Average rating: 5/10
Alex – Dessert was the highlight of the night for me, which disappointingly sums things up. Fail proof pannacotta and chocolate ice-cream. The pannacotta was fairly underwhelming but nonetheless a perfect combo of light texture and sweet strawberries. Although being quite the ice-cream professional I did enjoy the Baci semifreddo which had me wishing I hadn’t opted to share!
Mel – The pannacotta was light and creamy and a perfect combination with the macerated strawberries. The chocolate ice-cream was rich and chocolate-y, but not a semifreddo as promised and on that basis not a winner for me.
Emer – Dessert was similar to entrée for me, in that it was tasty but not outstanding – I tried both the baci semifreddo and the panacotta, I enjoyed the semifreddo more, surprisingly as I am a panacotta fan as a rule, but the rich chocolate sauce with the semifreddo was a winner for me on the night.
Joey – Dessert was anything but a semifreddo but a good chocolate ice cream nonetheless and the pannacotta was light and silky with a faultless mixture of macerated strawberries.
The overall feel of the L’Enoteca was a little disjointed. It had the mechanisms of being something wonderful but it failed on execution. The décor had a semi-café/semi-fine dining feel to it which left you a little confused as to what their niche market was aimed at.
As it is a fairly new restaurant and given how well the staff received feedback and critique one can only hope that improvements will be made and L’Entoeca rises above their teething issues to become an amazing Tapas bar/restaurant. Overall this restaurant deserves a second chance based purely on management’s commitment to improving their food.