Sunday, April 22, 2007

Enoteca Vino Bar - Foodies Meet Up

Previously I had written how I was going to meet up with Swee from A Self-Proclaimed Foodaholic as she was visiting Melbourne. Well we decided to give Enoteca Vino Bar a try. Other bloggers and foodies who decided to come along were Mel The Secret Foodie, Yvonne and Shirely.

Enoteca Vino Bar is located on Lygon street up in the Carlton North end. As I had mistakenly told Yvonne, it is not near the shops. In fact, its near nothing. Its in the middle stretch of Lygon between the Carlton end where all the restaurants are and the Brunswick end, where more restaurants and shops are. It is a great looking restaurant though. You walk in to very nice decor, attached to a shop that also sells lots of Italian food items. I was going to go into the shop after the meal but unfortunately they closed it at about 10pm. That just gives me a reason to go back as Swee said.

So here are all the foodies. As you can see, I was a thorn between the roses. We look like a talk show panel. From left to right is Swee, Shirley, me, Mel and Yvonne. Strangely enough, it turned out we were all Chinese and all spoke multiple Chinese dialects. The meal was conducted in English as that was the common language between everyone.

No one knew anyone before the meal so we all got to know each other and how we all love food. A lot of the conversation did revolve around food obviously. Swee gave us a run down of her job as a pastry chef since she was the only one actually involved in the food industry. The other girls were all studying while I was the only one who is already working.

We decided to order meals and to share so that we could try as many things as possible. For entrees, we got (from bottom to top) Red Emperor Carpaccio, Artichokes wrapped in Prosciutto and Swordfish. I liked the artichoke wrapped in proscuitto the most, with the two other fish dishes very interesting in flavour but not totally yummy to me.

When the food arrives, noramlly with my friends, I always have to tell them "Wait, wait, no one touch the food until I take a good photo." But this time, everyone understood that no food will be touched until all photos were taken. We must have looked so weird with the camera flash going off at our table at regular intervals. It was like a Western gun battle to see who could draw out their cameras first to take a photo. Also, as Yvonne said, we had to take turns so the flashes wouldn't totally blind the food and make the photos look awful. Here's Yvonne, Swee and Shirley with their cameras ready to fire.

For mains, we each picked a dish and then shared them. Mel went for the very interesting sounding Pear and Gorgonzola Risotto. I quite liked this dish actually. It sounded strange but the pear works well to give the dish a fresh flavour. The cheese was slightly too strong, but otherwise it was a good dish.

Yvonne chose the Slow Cooked Lamb Risotto. The lamb was extremely tender and easily fell apart in your mouth. The risotto also had a cheese flavour which was different to the Gorgonzola cheese. The spicy tomoato broth added another dimension to the dish. I liked the lamb and thought the risotto was ok.

Swee chose the Braised Lamb with all these other things in it that I can't remember. However, this dish was my least favourite as the flavour kept reminding me of hot cross buns. The sauce was sweet and there were cloves or something so hence it just kept tasting like hot cross buns to me, not nice when you're eating lamb.

Shirley chose the Blue Swimmer Crab Risotto. This dish was very nice on first bite since it had this great seafood flavour. It was still very good until near the end where I was getting full and it got a bit too overpowering with the seafood juices getting quite salty.

I choose the Rabbit, and in my opinion, was the best dish. The rabbit meat was very tender and full of flavour. There was the rabbit leg which had a milder flavour and a roll of rabbit that had a much stronger flavour. There was also a kidney split in half which Yvonne and I tried a piece each of. It was quite good, until Yvonne joked that it might not be a kidney but some other part of the rabbit that we just ate.

Dessert was an extremely easy choice for me. Upon seeing Tiramisu on the menu, my decision was made. The tiramisu was very nice and tasted similar to the one at Cafe Trevi on the other end of Lygon Street. However, I still prefer Brunetti's Tiramisu as that one has a stronger coffee and alcohol flavour that I like.

The Sorbet consisted of three flavours, from the traditional lemon, to the yummy blood plum to the strange and not so good watermelon. It was served with candied orange and syrup.

The last dessert was a Zambaglione with Toffe and Sorbet. When all three things were eaten together, this was a brilliant dessert. The flavours and textures combined to give a really great tasting experience.

The service was very good, with the waiters sounding like they knew what they were talking about. I think the waitress had clearly memorised what she had to off the menu as I saw her look up a few times as if trying to remember the menu. The waiter rolled off the dessert menu with such ease that we couldn't even figure out what he was saying, until we slowly thought about it and realised he was saying the sorbet flavours and the cheese types. We were also discussing whether he was putting on this rather fake sounding Italian accent or if that was his real accent. I decided it was fake since I think I heard him talk to some other waiters in an Aussie accent. Whatever the case, the service was very professional.

It was a great night getting to meet other foodies and discussing things. I hope to meet up with them again next time and other foodies/bloggers in Melbourne. Enoteca is a good place to meet up with friends or total blogging strangers for a meal and a chat. The atmosphere is calm inside with a touch of elegance and class. Service is good and food is also good. Prices are not too expensive.

Overall Rating: 14/20, Serive was good. Food was good without anything being fantastic but there were a lot of other dishes on the menu yet to be tried. The atmosphere is excellent, very classy but not expensive.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

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  1. The desserts in particular look great! I also loved the pic of all those bloggers with their cameras out. :-)

  2. Cindy, the desserts were yummy. That photo with the other bloggers was not staged. They really were all taking photos with their cameras so I decided to take a photo of them taking a photo of the food.

  3. yum :). i really like your blog, you've done a great job with it :).


  4. I have to confess this restaurant is probably the most disappointing dining experience I've had all year. The produce is average, they aren't doing anything exciting with it and quite frankly they charge a lot for what they give you. It's what most home cooks could put together for a fraction of the cost after a twenty minute trip to the Vic markets. To me the tiramisu tasted like a cocoa dusted pile of whipped cream. I think the interior is lovely and the serve commendable but it just doesn't make the cut in such a restaurant savvy city.

  5. Yvonne, thanks, I'll keep up the good work.

    Truffle, thats a shame your experience was so bad. I liked the mains but nothing in particular wowed me, but I thought the other items on the menu might have been good. I have to disagree with you and say that I did like the Tiramisu.

    The interior is definitely very nice but I think the price was fair for what I got.

    That's the thing about restaurants though isn't it. It's so subjective. You can have a good experience one night and a terrible one the next. Even two people who are there on the same night might disagree about how good the food was and other things. I thought my experience at Rumi was terrible in terms of the food but John Lethlean and many other bloggers have written many great reviews about the place.

  6. One look at the picture of the tiramisu and you know it is delicious.

    Great pictures and write up.
    Keep it up, Thanh!

  7. Thanks Choo, I'll keep eating as much as I can :-).