A second visit to Enoteca confirmed our first. Deep in the heart of buzzing Soho, seated informally on high stools or at the bar, you can safely experience a little bit of Spanish hospitality.
This time we ran through the list of tapas style options with our helpful waiter. Amongst those that caught our eye were the potato wedges – either of the options they serve, those tossed in paprika or with rosemary and sea salt variety are fine for us, although we passed on the dips, as commercial mayonnaise can be a problem. As an accompaniment to the other dishes these were very good.
As on our previous visit, we opted for the pan fried chilli garlic shrimps and the beef tenderloin both of which were cooked in garlic and chilli. We can still recommend both of these. Among the other choices available to us to try another time are the portobello mushroom stuffed with feta, marinated peppers and sun-dried tomato. The only reason we didn’t order this then was that our waiter was practical enough to suggest that this is a single large portobello mushroom rather than several as the menu suggests this might be difficult to cut attractively to share between our guests – if there are just two of you dining though this wouldn’t have been a problem.
Others we might try another time are the cod chunks simmered in coconut milk, cilantro and lime juice (although we would need to check that the coconut milk is gluten-free as some aren’t) and the Moroccan spiced lamb cutlets with coriander hummus – although again we would need to check whether they make the hummus themselves as some commercial ones aren’t gluten-free.
There are plenty of good dishes for those who don’t need to avoid gluten, including the pesto chicken and parmesan risotto balls and the spicy chicken in peri-peri sauce, both of which got good feedback from the unconstrained. Again we opted to finish the meal with their creme brûlée, which was as good as last time. Beware the tuile though; despite the gluten conversations ours arrived with one. It was perhaps another reminder that, as always, it is as well to ask if you aren’t sure whether something has been overlooked. Anyway, we quickly repurposed the tuile on another plate and, are happy to report, there weren’t any glutening consequences.
Our previous review in full:
Thank goodness for the staff at Enoteca. They had absolutely no idea of our unsatisfactory experience earlier that evening at nearby Vivo and managed to restore our faith in the ability of Hong Kong’s restaurants to offer warm hospitality to a variety of customers.
This time we asked ‘the gluten question’ even before we stepped over the threshold. The immediate answer, which came with a smile, was that it is limited but yes they do have gluten-free food. With that they could have our business, after all not having the run of the menu is a simple factual reality for those of us who strictly need to avoid gluten.
We were escorted all the way through the long narrow busy restaurant to an area which if not covered with a canopy might be open to the night. Fans to the side and a simple decorative waterfall made it feel cooler than the 30 degrees and high humidity suggested.
As it turned out, there was plenty on the menu to keep those who have problems with gluten quite happy. One of the waitresses deserves a medal. She was entirely constructive and non-judgmental: she warmed to the task of finding food that was safe for us to eat. When she put her hand on my shoulder, which happened more than once, it wasn’t in a patronizing or invasive way; I took it as signalling that she was on my side and we were in this together.
And together we quickly worked our way through the menu, ruling offside the obvious things, but also some items like those containing sesame seeds and those that might have used artificial flavourings, to come to a choice. We opted for the prawns pan fried with chilli and garlic and the beef tenderloin which had undergone a similar treatment. To accompany this there was a roasted beetroot, red onion and goats cheese salad. Both the prawns and beef were full of flavour and something we would definitely order again. The salad seemed to be missing the beetroot, but was otherwise unobjectionable.
The lime daquiri was also very good. The waitress here ensured that it was made with fresh lime rather than any flavoured cordials such as are used in their strawberry variety.
This was followed with a traditional crème brulee complete with a convincingly brittle layer of caramel to hack through. Full marks to the chef as it bore the tell-tale speckled marks that are a sign of it having been made with real vanilla.
Accompanying the brulee was a concentrated passion fruit sauce, which was lovely. Left to my own devices I might have made the brulee slightly smaller and increased the sauce, but it was good nonetheless. For those not avoiding gluten, and in need of a huge sugar fix, The Unconstrained indulged in a reportedly very good sticky date pudding.
Would we return here? Yes indeed. The food was good but most of all we would come back because the waitress made navigating their menu straightforward, something that all those avoiding gluten appreciate.
Enoteca, G/F 47 Elgin Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong – Tel: 2525 9944