First published on 2 Dec 2010. Updated on 21 Mar 2013.
With wine bar Enoterra tucked into a corner next to Agua on the fourth floor of Nali Patio, Sanlitun becomes an even easier place to never leave. Choose from a selection of 10-12 wines by the glass and enjoy two glasses of wine for the price of one from 4 to 8pm every day. A range drawn up for everyone from amateurs to aficionados involves seven wine lists to choose from and a select number of grape-based spirits including armagnacs, cognacs and grappas. Inspired lists, split into ‘hedonist’, ‘sensualist’, ‘evocative’ and ‘playful’, help match taste with drinkers’ personalities and moods.
Learn more by asking; staff are friendly and ready to answer questions. Come here for the wine, but don’t rule out the food: a simple menu of dishes made to share and designed to pair with the wines. Impressing the appetite first is the spicy clam casserole (35RMB) steamed lightly with jalapenos; tender, buttery and juicy, speckled with red chillies. The broth at the bottom of the bowl makes for great mopping with bread. The croque monsieur (62RMB), France’s answer to a ham and cheese sandwich, arrives hot and cheesy, topped with prosciutto over two toasty slices of rye bread.
The chunky chopped salad (48RMB) doesn’t follow any definition of a chopped salad. It’s a bowl of leafy greens mingled with cubed ham, mozzarella, quail egg and celery, dressed with too much sweet vinegar and almost no oil. The wax cubes of mozzarella lurking within are the kind for melting on pizza and not the kind you want in your salad. Rich and creamy, veggies crème brulée (38RMB) is like a quiche with asparagus, mushrooms and tomato. It has no crust and trades the traditional burnt sugar topping for a chewy parmesan cheese layer on top. Served generously in three small bowls, this dish is just perfect for sharing.
Peas and mint soup (40RMB) wasn’t worth the wait, tasted heavy on the mint and had a limp, pale colour that didn’t match our expectations of a warm soup on a cold Beijing evening. The soft flourless chocolate cake (40RMB) tenders a happy finish to a modest meal. Although the dishes are encouraged to share, ordering a portion per person won’t disappoint anyone at the table.
Enoterra offers a handful of evening specials for wine lovers to enjoy both vino and food alike. Suitable for casual dates or conversation, the ambiance and the food portions facilitate both comfortably. Overall, this is an inviting spot to rendezvous, all set within a growing centre where the social gravitate.