It's amazing how much Sacramento has changed over the last 20 years. I arrived after college in 1987 to a town that my California collegemates referred to as the armpit of California (along with Stockton and the whole central valley). I fell in love with Sacramento because of its size, location, and weather. During the last two decades I've seen the restaurant scene grow and then explode. Some restaurants have survived through the ups and downs and the competition. We had visited Biba a couple of months ago and now I went to Enotria for another visit.
Enotria has always been an enigma. A high end restaurant in one of the lesser Sacramento neighborhoods. Del Paso Blvd. has seen its own share of changes and improvements. At least these days you don't feel as uneasy visiting there.
We had actually gone to Enotria last Sunday to find out it was closed. I thought it might be due to the economy. Turns out they are now only open Thursdays thru Saturdays.
As far as I can tell/remember, Enotria has not remodeled at all. It still looks the same. We were seated a small two-top in the middle of the restaurant and looked upon the walls shelved with bottles of wine. The waiter says they have 1000 different wines and they have been noted in national magazines for their selection. Enotria is known for their ten wine flights if you want a little variety in your beverages. You get three small glasses that equal one regularly poured glass. My friend is a newly converted wine drinker and opted for the California Reds flight.
Our waiter has served me a couple of times. He has been working there for the last seven years and is what a good waiter should be - knowledgeable, friendly, attentive, but not overly so. His only misstep was forgetting my lemon wedges for my water. But he cleverly covered by thanking me for my reminder.
We were brought a basket of dark colored bread with what looked like olives in it. I questioned the busser because olives are another item on my 'do not like' list. Turns out it was a cranberry walnut bread. I thought it a nice change to have a sweetbread and did enjoy it. It was a moist, dense bread with a generous amount of plump cranberries. I don't think I agree with having it in my bread basket before dinner, though. I want my sweetness after my meal, not before.
We were offered the menu and I was tempted by the prix fixe menu. You got four courses for $45. But that was a bit beyond my capability in these economic times.
We started with the short rib raviolis. We received a bowl of four large raviolis well stuffed with a shredded, savory meat. They were covered in a light cream sauce and we enjoyed them immensely. Interestingly they say that their menu is changed weekly. Apparently the raviolis are either popular or a staple because Kate Washington mentions them in her SNR review back in March of '08.
My friend's entree was Pine Nut Encrusted Halibut, toasted parsley cous cous, citrus and fruit chutney, cauliflower curry broth. The halibut was cooked well but I did not care for the overall flavor combination. The sweetness of the chutney was in conflict with the curry soaked cous cous. I was happy it was not my selection.
This time I won the 'I got the better dish' contest. I had selected the Braised Pheasant, Tuscan bread pudding, winter greens, natural pan jus. My boned pheasant was moist and flavorful and I enjoyed the bread pudding, especially the bitefuls that were soaked in the au jus. The bread pudding had been baked in individual ramekins or tins and so it had a lot of nice crunchy crust to it.
We were unimpressed with the dessert menu. It just contained some standards: lava cake, creme brulee, sorbets and gelatos. We decided to save a few calories and skipped it.
For the most part Enotria still does a good job. Although we were disappointed in the halibut, other dishes we've had over the last couple of months have been very good. I think Enotria will continue to survive and hold it's place as a Sacramento staple.