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

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