I took a trip to Encant last week and it’s made me question a lot of things. One: why the hell has it taken me this long to put quail in my mouth? Two: how can it be that somewhere so tinsie could espouse more charm in three hours than my ex boyfriend of two years?
The Venue and Atmosphere
Nestled at 16 Maiden Lane, Encant is an intimate 22-cover restaurant boasting a beautiful brass bar top and broody dimmed lighting. Tall leather bound seats line the bar, which is where we were seated for our meal, but you can grab a cosier table to the left as you walk in the door. Although they’re not as private, our seats offered prime viewing of the bartenders and chefs at work. Yes, the interiors at Encant are simple, but this place has plenty of game, leaving you to focus on cuisine and company rather than surroundings. Visiting midweek, Encan’t had a lovely buzz about it. Without trying to come across as a nosey git, I craned my neck around to find gooey eyed couples clinking their glasses and a a few female dominant groups working through a variety of tapas. If you want to get up close and personal with a love interest minus nonsense and interruption, this Covent Garden gem serves as the perfect solution.
The Food and Drinks
Starting the evening off with something I would usually turn my nose at, we ordered the Pacharan Marinated Salmon Rulada £9. Three cylinders of crunchy sweet potato came wrapped in cured salmon with each one topped with wasabi alioli and finely sliced horseradish. Light and boasting an interesting combination of textures, the chef wasn’t lying when he said they were a must-order. Trying to get a rounded feel for the menu, we enjoyed the Grilled Octopus £12 and Fried Oysters £11 from the Seafood section too. The octopus had distinct hints of garlic and came served in bite sized chunks at the perfect consistency. The Fried Oysters were the clear winner of this section though. Presented in their original shells and served on a collection of hot stones, our batch of battered oysters were plump and fantastically fresh with a bed of wild spinach resting underneath the three battered beauties.
With all dishes so far coming in with a 5/5 rating from both me and my colleague, we more than happily popped our top buttons to welcome the Braised Pork Belly £9 and Foie Gras Stuffed Quail £9. Served in trios, the pork belly was rich and meaty mouthful but the pancetta-wrapped quail literally melted in our mouths. It had a moreish sweet glaze and a savoury dipping sauce served in a half cracked egg shell. The final hurdle of our meal came in the form of two “Turron de Jijona” Ice Cream Sandwiches £3. The chefs slathered the sides of the vanilla ice-cream in salted caramel sauce before gently rolling both sandwiches in toasted almonds.
Encant puts just as much effort into their drinks offering, with classics like the Negroni £11 coming served in high-end glassware and made using premium spirits. Lesser known drinks roam the cocktail list too, like the Limon Fresca £10. It marries Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Limoncello, lemon, fresh mint, grapefruit bitters and soda to form a zesty mix that lingers on your palate long after each sip. Whatever your poison, it’s probably on their menu, but bourbon lovers will appreciate the St Lawrence £11. It has a Buffalo Trace base shaken with maple, lemon, angostura and black walnut bitters.
Thanks to the open kitchen at Encant, we were able to witness first-hand the passion that goes into every dish. Delivering on no less than six tapas plates and boasting more charm than not only my ex, but half the men in my phonebook, this place is the ideal central London dining destination.