Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What are you, some kind of tapas expert?

It seems like I've become bored with conventional, one-plate dinners, since most of my reviews lately have described tapas places around the country. I promise I haven't grown tired of a hearty burger and fries or chicken pot pie or whatever else isn't really sharing-type finger food. I guess I just have a sweet spot for variety. Call me crazy.

My folks and I met the vivacious M. for dinner at Eno Vino, another of the few retaurants on the West Side that doesn't serve mud butt-inducing crap food or force its employees to adhere to strict flair standards. In fact, since I took my parents to it last Christmas, Eno Vino has become their default joint for a "nice meal" (read: where they serve wine and real cocktails that don't have umbrellas in them). It's a pretty fantastic place - the lights are always low, chairs are wrapped in a rich mahogany leather, and St. Germain never fails to make an appearance on the iPod-driven stereo (thanks, bartender, for the appetite-whetting downtempo beats).

We arrived, sat, and launched immediately into our usual perusal of Eno Vino's seemingly voluminous-yet-one-page menu of succulent shareables, flatbread pizzas, and the like. By the way, I'm pretty sure Succulent Shareables ought to be up there with Potent Potables for 500, Alex. Anyway, M. and I opened with a pair of key lime pie martinis (she recommended them, and I'm a sucker for doing what a beautiful blonde tells me, especially when it is related to pie in even an ancillary fashion), while my dad went for their best ice water and my mother, in her usual unexpected twisty kind of way opted for a cosmo. Apparently she'd fallen in love when supping with her brother, the fabulous and wordly Uncle Steve from South Beach. We bandied around a couple of ideas, and the rest of the table decided I ought to order in their stead. Maybe they've been reading the blog...

I guess now would be a good time to mention that Eno Vino, as its name implies, is actually a wine bar that serves food, and their selection trumps most other wine lists in Madison. It's also one of the few places in town where you can order a quartino - that's about a third of a bottle of wine, for those of you who aren't semi-lush enough to know. Anyway, good wine, good cocktails, but back to the food.

I decided on an eclectic mix of grilled double lamb chops with roasted fingerlings and a minted winter vegetable ragout, foie gras (seared with roasted brandy apples and a cider reduction and served alongisde a quail egg dripping with truffled Hollandaise), portabella mushroom ravioli with a port cream and micro greens, and a flatbread topped with lump crab, bacon, thick slices of avocado, jalapeno (I can't make the tilde on this computer, forgive me), fontina cheese and a mango drizzle). Yum!

The food was delicious, although at the end we were left a bit misty-eyed that our favorite flatbread (with thinly-sliced tenderloin, a creamy sauce, and portabella mushrooms) had been elminated from the menu. All in all, however, the meal was excellent and presentation very aesthetically pleasing. The foie gras stood out - it was like a little battle of unconventional bird parts, with a seared slab of foie gras stacked on buttery, crusty bread on one end and the over-easy, melt-in-your-mouth quail's egg atop its toasty tower on the other. Luckily, neither M. nor my dad wanted any, so Mom and I made short work of it, and I only had to restrain myself from stabbing her for the foie gras once. Or twice.

Bellies full, we sauntered into the warm spring evening (rather atypical for this time of year in Madison, but not at all unpleasant), said our good byes to M. with a promise to meet again and added congratulations for her acceptance into med school, and headed home.

Eno Vino
601 Junction Rd.
Madison, WI 53717
(608) 664-9565

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