Enolo, a new wine bar and restaurant from JNK Concepts, opened to the public on Thursday, June 12th at 450 N. Clark St. in River North.
Earlier that week, I was invited to attend a media opening in order to sample the menu. I took a friend and we joined a room full of other food-centric writers to enjoy both the food and wine in this charming new venue.
The space is rather small, only 64 seats, but still manages to look spacious and inviting. It does tend to get a bit noisy when full, so be aware of that when you visit. The focus is on approachable, affordable wine and simple, delicious food prepared with fresh, local ingredients. The wine lists features unique bottles exclusive to Enolo from small vineyards around the world. Wine can be purchased by the glass, bottle, or flight featuring three wines from the preferred genre. Customers can also purchase bottles to-go. In addition to wine, Enolo offers 17 local and international craft beers and well-crafted unique cocktails.
“Enolo’s warm and inviting culture is anything but pretentious,” said Felipe Ospina, who is heading this project for JNK Concepts. “Everyone from wine experts to those trying it for the first time will feel welcome here.”
We sampled several menu items that are well worth a try when you visit. From the “Small Bites” menu we opted for the Braised Artichoke and Leek Dip with crispy Pancetta. This flavorful dip is served warm alongside lightly sugared crispy bread slices. The combination of sweet and savory is a perfect accompaniment to the superb Chateau Routas Rosé.
From the “Salad and Panini” menu we opted for two offerings. First, we tried the Green Salad (kale, avocado, poached egg, grilled asparagus, garlic croutons, balsamic herb dressing). The egg elevates this from a simple salad to something far more intriguing. It is densely flavorful without being heavy and also worked well with the Rosé. After the salad, we tried the Prosciutto Di Parma Panini on Focaccia Bread (prosciutto, creamy Brie, fig jam, fresh arugula). This alone would make a perfect small lunch, but worked well as a shared appetizer. The combination of salty prosciutto with sweet fig and savory brie was a delightful combination.
There is an extensive “Bruschetta” menu, and we tried two of them. First, the Bacon Jam with torched Burrata, arugula, and grilled squash. Next, the Shrimp sautéed in tomato sauce with pesto, arugula, lemon, and parmesan cheese. Both of these were served with a bit too much arugula for my taste, but once we removed a bit of the greenery both were excellent choices. We chose to pair these with the Sattimano Dolcetto d’Alba from Piemonte – a perfect pairing once again.
Finally, we ended the evening with a pasta course consisting of angel hair pasta in a white wine, butter, garlic sauce. The pasta was completed with zucchini and fried squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese. As one friend pointed out, this was “art for the taste buds.”
The hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. You can get information on their website or follow their social media conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.