Days later, we’re still raving about our visit to Café Ena. As the number of eateries we visit in the Twin Cities grows, we try to remain selective when it comes to high ratings and rave reviews. But, with its outstanding food – using French technique to create Latino-inspired dishes – and charming location, Café Ena certainly earned its rank near the top of our list.
In south Minneapolis, Café Ena occupies one corner of a full – though surprisingly calm – intersection across from a small wine bar and a picturesque bakery (both now on our must-visit list). We snagged a spot on the patio next to beautiful flower planters (that, despite citronella candles, did attract flies and gnats) where we could watch the variety of patrons come and go. From young families to groups of couples, we were surprised to see such a range at a place focused on creative cuisine. But Café Ena manages to balance sophisticated style and elegant food with a neighborhood vibe that makes any party feel right at home.
Service was polite and attentive, and maintained the right pace for a laid-back dinner. We fell into the relaxed mood around us, sipping our wine and enjoying Café Ena’s sweet, garlic infused butter on slices of crispy baguette. Nearby entrées appeared to be large, so we skipped the tempting starters and salads and went right for the main plates. Jim had the Pescado: blackened salmon over a mixture of Israeli couscous, jalapeno-infused cream, red onion, peppers and scallions, and topped with a roasted artichoke relish. The couscous mixture had immense flavor, and the fish was seasoned well and cooked just right. The dish was delicious and perfectly portioned – making it one of Jim’s all-time favorites.
I had the Conchas plate: sea scallops sprinkled with coriander and cardamom next to coconut risotto and baby spinach in a curry cream sauce. The scallops were tasty and seared to a nice texture, but the risotto stole the show. It was creamy yet light; the combination of coconut and curry was a nice match with the Indian-seasoned scallops, and a chilled pineapple salsa on top added sweetness and color.
Café Ena served up the most important parts of a night out: food that’s expertly prepared, full of good-for-you ingredients and anything but boring, and a welcoming atmosphere that urges us to unwind and recharge. This is one we’re so glad we found and can’t wait to revisit – Café Ena is officially a favorite!
RATING (out of 5 ♠♠♠♠♠)
Menu Selection: ♠♠♠♠1/2
Food Taste & Presentation: ♠♠♠♠1/2
COMPLETE EXPERIENCE: ♠♠♠♠
Total bill, including tip: $74