Under the leadership of chef Pajo Bruich, Enotria has become the most celebrated and buzzed about restaurant in Sacramento over the last 6 months. They've received glowing reviews in the Sac Bee, Sac Mag and every other reviewer out there. (Updated twice - Removed reference to PR firm. Did not mean to imply that PR firms influenced the substance of reviews.)
Enotria has done it, suddenly and with a startling degree of wisdom and sophistication. It's not only the most improved restaurant I can remember, it has come back with a vengeance as perhaps the very best fine-dining restaurant in Sacramento and beyond.
I've tasted chef Pajo Bruich's food when he was at Lounge on 20, and at receptions he's catered. I've been blown away by his innovative cooking techniques. His use of molecular gastronomy was unique in the region and quite honestly, brilliantly.
So between the very positive reviews in the local media and my personal experiences, I selected Enotria last month for a Special Occasion dinner last month.
When we arrived, there was no hostess at the door. Granted, it was a Tuesday evening, but with designs on a Michelin star, it's not too much to ask to be greeted at the door without having to wait a minute or two for the hostess to return to her station.
When the waitress did show up, we were promptly seated. The decor was definitely upgraded since they underwent their million dollar renovation.
At the time we visited, if you ate in the dining room where we did, you only had a choice of two tasting menus - five courses for $65 and seven courses for $95. There was also a $65 wine pairing. We decided on the more moderately priced 5 course dinner without the wine pairings. Apparently, they've added an a la carte menu to the dining room, and diners can select from both an a la carte menu and happy hour menu in the bar area.
As usual, when given an option, we chose each chose different dishes so we could taste everything the chef had to offer.
Mango "yolk." Reminded me of a dish I had at Lounge on 20. This was a fabulous bite.
Delta Asparagus with parmesan, iberico, egg. We really enjoyed the crunch of the iberico ham, which had the texture of bacon bits.
Kohlrabi with spring onion, white cazpachi, farro
Pork Cheek with popcorn, fava bean, radish
Gnocci with ricotta, black truffel, maitake and shaved black truffles
Suzuki with lentils, serrano, sunchoke
Rib Eye with radicchio, smoked potato, black garlic
White Chocolate with strawberry, almond, mole bitters
Mignardises (bourbon creme with cookie crust in the shot glass and a chocolate & strawberry jam-filled chocolate)
There are two ways to look at our meal.
Based on quality only:
We really enjoyed our meal. The food was expertly prepared, and the service was excellent. We decided to let the sommelier select a glass of wine for both of us, and we were blown away by how good the pairing was. The best part is that we had never heard of those wines, and would never have selected those wines on our own. One thing that detracted from our enjoyment of the meal was how empty the restaurant was. When we arrived, there was only one other couple in a room that seated at least two dozen people. Granted it was a Tuesday night, but there was no energy in the room. I wish they were more popular so the room didn't seem so quiet.
We also decided to add the shaved black truffles to our second course for an extra $15. I had truffle oil in the past, but I don't remember ever eating shaved truffle. Maybe my palate's not refined enough, but I didn't get it, and wouldn't spend the extra money in the future.
The pace of the dinner was great. We started at 7 p.m., and finished at 8:30. Unlike other prix fixe meals I've had, there was never an awkward wait in between courses.
Adding the total price of the meal into the equation:
At about $270 (including tax and tip), this is the most expensive meal for two we've ever had. We had saved our pennies and splurged on a special occasion. For that much money, we hoped to be blown away like we had been during our previous meals at Chef Pajo Bruich's restaurants. Instead, we were served a very good meal, but one that didn't stand out.
If you have that kind of money to spare, I'd recommend trying their prix fixe menu once. It was very good, but not something that I could recommend doing multiple times.
Hopefully, with the addition of a la carte options, diners can partake in the restaurant's excellent cuisine without hitting the triple digit mark per person.
I will add a second plug for their sommelier. He was great. Even if you think you know wine, put your taste buds in his very capable hands.
Enotria is located at 1431 Del Paso Blvd. Find them online at Enotria.com.
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