Enrique’s School for Bullfighting popped up on Beaufort Street a couple of weeks before the Beaufort Street Festival last year, and was touted to only be around until February or March the next year. I made a mental note to myself to get there before then, as rumours of numerous combinations of gin, tonic and garnishes made me pretty damn excited. Life got in the way though, March rolled around I still hadn’t been, but luckily for me Enrique’s didn’t go away. Last Wednesday, I finally got my act together and wandered up Beaufort Street after work to see what was on offer.
We had booked in at 5pm, a little early for dinner but Ollie and I have been so tired lately that we thought getting in and out a bit earlier would be nice. Plus, the bachelor was on at 7.30 and we wanted to be home in time for that (no judgement!). We arrived a little early, and after stopping to smell the flowers on the corner, we hung out at Solomon’s cafe across the road for a quick drink – a red wine for me and a much healthier tumeric tonic for Ollie. They had an interesting looking vegan menu, but a friend who ate there that night reported it to be quite salty and surprisingly bereft of fresh veggies. The juice was nice though.
Once Enrique’s doors slid open just after 5, we wandered across the road and grabbed a table next to the window, so we could sit and watch the world go by. The decor inside was really funky – booths to fit 4 people covered in cowhide, bright chairs, and an interesting hanging installation of metal buckets. There was also a small room out the back with a few more tables which looked really cosy.
We decided to get the 6 courses of OMG menu, which was $55 each and designed for sharing. Happy to leave the food choices in the hands of the chef, we chatted to the lovely, bubbly waitress about our gin preferences and left it up to her to decide what we would be drinking for the night.
First up was a beefeater gin with elderflower tonic and strawberries – this was Ollie’s request for a tonic that didn’t have that bitter aftertaste, and it was quite sweet as far as G + T’s go. Mine was a 50 pounds gin with grapefruit, which was a bit more tart.
First dish to come out was the pig and parmesan, that being jamon tuille with parmesan icecream. A really interesting dish – cold, creamy icecream with a sharp parmesan flavour was unusual but enjoyable, and the jamon was crisp and salty. We also got some paprika popcorn, which wasn’t technically part of the menu but came as an extra snack. That was also quite different – but I did enjoy the unconventional pairing of the smoky paprika and the light, airy popcorn.
Next up was the ceviche, comprising of snapper, blood orange ice, avocado cream, dehydrated oranges and apple salad. This was a stand out dish – really fresh, and a great combination of flavours. So bright and pretty, the fish was soft and silky which was complemented really well by crunchy apple. The blood orange ice was quite tart, and really cut through the rest of the dish. The avocado cream was a fun addition as well – fairly mild but a lovely smooth texture.
After the ceviche was the roast pumpkin salad, and I thought these two dishes complemented each other really well – nice to have the fresh fish and then the warm, hearty salad. The salad was a combination of roast pumpkin, pumpkin puree, hazelnuts which gave it a lovely earthy flavour, finished off with some goats cheese foam and jamon. For many of the same reasons as I enjoyed the avocado cream, I thought the goats cheese foam was amazing – it allowed you to have more of the flavour through the dish while keeping it from being too heavy. The pumpkin puree tasted like it had a bit of truffle oil through it as well – yum!
After this was another bonus course, a lemon sorbet palate cleanser. This sorbet was gorgeous – served in cold stone bowls, so creamy and smooth that it could almost be mistaken for icecream, and incredibly tart – very refreshing.
After that interlude, we got into some of the more serious dishes. Next up was the sherry chorizo, which came in a generous sized bowl with a rich chunky tomato sauce, olives, a gooey fried egg and some dense, buttery bread. We mixed the egg into the chorizo, and dived in hands first with the bread. This was a warm, enticing dish with just the right amount of chilli.
By this time, we were ready for another drink before our last dish came. I really liked that the waitress stayed engaged with us throughout the meal, checking we were enjoying each course and asking how long we wanted to wait before the next one. We once again asked her to make the drinks choices for us, and once again she didn’t disappoint. This time Ollie had a Sloe gin with an orange garnish, while I had a beefeater with grapefruit and coriander, and both were spot on.
The final savoury dish of the night was the beef ribs with BBQ sauce and chipotle slaw. Sweet and smoky BBQ sauce was slathered over the ribs, which fell off the bone at the touch – no knife required for this dish! The chipotle slaw was spicy and fresh and the whole dish worked really well together.
Finally, we got to the dessert stage. This was a honey pannacotta with honeycomb, salted caramel icecream, chocolate soil and strawberry jam drops. The pannacotta was perfectly wobbly, and not too sweet which made it a pleasure to eat with the crisp, crunchy honeycomb. The strawberry jam drops were packed full of flavour and the icecream and chocolate soil were a great combination. We also ordered a old fashioned cocktail, the name of which escapes me but it was salted caramel maple old fashioned or something along those lines. I am not normally a fan of bourbon, but this was really smooth and went down a treat.
Enrique says relax is the motto at this chilled out joint on Beaufort Street, and certainly one the staff abided by when we dropped by on Wednesday night to try some of their tasty fare. Dinner here ticked all the boxes, and I thoroughly recommend a visit.