Shumpty Eats: 1889 Enoteca

Saturday night, as a preamble to my birthday, I celebrated my becoming a year older with dinner at another of my favourite restaurants in Brisbane, 1889 Enoteca in the Woolloongabba. Now this is a tough review for me to write because, paradoxically, in over 10 visits to this restaurant I have come to love the food in particular, and this is going to be a pretty bad review.

As always, lets start with the service and the fit out of the restaurant before launching into a discussion of the nosh on offer. The service on Saturday night was, it would be fair to say, at best ordinary and at worst some of the worst service I have received in a high end restaurant. Our waiter could not be less interested, our entrees were brought out and dumped on the table whilst it was still full with plates from our pre dinner bread and it took an age for us to get our bill. An example of the lack of interest our waiter in us rests on the fact of that my water glass was only filled once. As someone who eschews alcohol that made for a long evening.

The restaurant itself comprises two cozy rooms upstairs, a large “function” room downstairs dominated by a large table and on footpath dining. Inside it there is a buzz of noise from customers sitting no more than a foot apart. I should declare here I have never had a cavil with how the restaurant is fitted out and indeed enjoy the coziness of the place. Tonight however it just looked like the place was too full: people were being served their dinner at the bar and the tables in the “main” dining room seemed closer than usual.

All of this leads me to why I could forgive the bad service received: the restaurant was very busy and our waiter had to serve a heap of people. It is not the waiter’s fault but the restaurant’s if too many bookings are taken. I understand though the principals of capitalism and know that a restaurant is in the business of making money so I understand the owner’s keenness to pack more and more customers in.

I am a lover of food and can forgive even the worst of service if the food served to me is good. I can not therefore forgive the service received on Saturday night because the food served was not of the quality I expect, based on past experience, from this restaurant.

For entree I ordered the Affettati misti (piccolo) which is defined in the menu as:

Selection of hand-made cured meats with caper berries, vine ripened truss tomato, house baked bread

I will concede that the selection of cured meats that came out was excellent but there my acclaim for this dish ceases. The way in which this dish was served was confused as it came out on three largish white plates which quickly filled the smallish table on which I was sitting. Raw tomato and capers were not satisfying accompaniments for this dish and there was too little bread.

For main I ordered the Bucatini all’amatriciana which is defined in the menu as:

Hollow spaghetti, guanciale, chili, fresh tomato sauce, Pecorino Romano

I love an amatriciana as a pasta option in the main because of the mix of flavours between the bacon and the chilli. Unfortunately to say the pasta served to me was bland would be an understatement. If there was chilli in the dish I could not taste it. To add insult to injury the serving I received was so oily that I struggled to finish it. I concede that any dish that includes guanciale in the recipe is going to have some oil in it as a result but in this case the oil was just too much.

The final negative of the night came with my coffee: I ordered a cappucino and received a flat white. By this point I had lost the energy to send it back and just drank it so we could leave.

If this was my first experience of 1889 Enoteca I can say without hesitation I would never come back. I will not be doing that in this case as every other time before this visit I have left sated and happy. I will be giving 1889 Enoteca another chance: just not on a Saturday night in the future me thinks.

Food: 5/10

Service: 4/10

Fit out: 7/10

1889 Enoteca on Urbanspoon

Shumpty Eats: Amazing Thai at Gaythorne

Last night, uninspired by the thought of cooking on a Monday but not wanting to hit up a burger shop Thai was on the menu.  Instead of going to my normal Thai restaurant I decided to head to a small Thai restaurant I had heard good things about in Gaythorne called “Amazing Thai”.

Unfortunately, I have to say straight up that the only thing about the place that was amazing was the word in its title.  The reasons why will become apparent in fairly short order.

First impressions count for much, always have and always will, and the first impression I got of the restaurant was not a good one.  There is no reason on a Monday night with only 1 other table occupied for new patrons to have to wait five minutes before being seated.  I could have accepted it if the restaurant was particularly busy or if there were a heap of people waiting to make takeaway order.  I cannot accept it when the wait is as a result of wait staff sitting in the kitchen having a chat and not hearing the front counter bell.

Unfortunately, this tardiness continued (keep in mind the restaurant only had one other table in use during my sojourn there) when it came to taking orders: twenty minutes before asking if drinks were needed was moderately ordinary.

In any event, as regular readers will know, I can always be swayed by the food of an establishment when it comes to how much I enjoy the dining experience.  Last night I ordered the steamed dim sims for entrée and the red curry done with chicken for main.  As is now becoming custom I had to order my rice separately (this really irritates me).

The dim sims were a disappointment: simply put, they were cold.  I am sure that even luke warm I would have enjoyed them because from a flavour perspective they tasted pretty good but I just couldn’t get past them being cold.  The entrée being bad was unfortunate because the red curry was spot on.  It ticked all the boxes on meat content, thickness of sauce and level of spice that one would expect in a red curry.

Ultimately, as a dining experience I was left disappointed: poor service coupled with a bad entrée experience could not be redeemed by an excellent main.  That said, the excellence of the main has kept me from completely jettisoning Amazing Thai from my restaurant rotation.  I am prepared to go back again sometime soon, if nothing else to see what the dim sims are like when they are warm.