Few have discovered the local gem that is Goose's Enoteca yet. At least, that's how it seemed when a friend and I visited a couple of weeks ago on a lazy Wednesday after work, with nobody to keep us company but sexy mounds of charcuterie, choice cheeses, a glossy block of lard and a wall of great beers from around the world. Yes, down in the basement of the city's best-traveled deli-market, life is rough.
This sentiment was reinforced by Adam, our server, who shared with us his love story as he iced down the beers we had chosen, Two Brother's Hop Juice and North Coast's La Merle. He explained that he had met his wife, also an American, while visiting some less-touristed Eastern European nation like Bosnia. All of this exposition on service to convey the vibe: I certainly could have been in a true Italian enoteca during some off-hour, when the owners and servers get personal quick over nibbles that unify us all.
I won't say terribly much about the setup behind this traditional wine-by-the glass institution, which I've covered on the blog. Just know that it's intimate and up-front. Most of the nosh is displayed in a gorgeous case; any wine and beer downstairs can be plucked and consumed for a modest corking fee. The space serves roughly 25 on wooden tables made from Indiana reclaimed wood, which owner Chris Eley, always the hands-on, artisan-minded chef, fashioned into tables himself.
Our particular nibbles were recommended by Eley himself. After going over the traditional small plates - brined olives, the dried and cured meats, the particular cheeses, I squeezed a favorite out of him. The beef tartare. The idea seemed so moist, and such a jarring juxtaposition to where my heart had been, which was with wafer-thin varieties of dry piggy flesh. My friend took Eley's suggestion, and I ended up with a sampler of cheese. Olives and almonds prepped our palates.
My earthy blu di bufala and tangy Portugues variety were pleasant, proper beer nosh, especially paired with freshly cut baguette bread and a spicy-sweet dark mustard and fruit chutney. But true to the man of the house's word, the beef tartare proved The Main Event. It was a perfectly portioned circle, if fresh raw beef, crowned with a small raw quail egg for mixing.
The best tartare makes me envious of ancestors who had not yet discovered fire. For what better way to eat meat than this? Tartare is if course embellished, and this version was kissed with enough capers for salty lift, copious amounts of clean-flavored parsley, and an overall peppery essence. I went to bed reminiscing about it.
We closed the place down at the ripe old hour of 8 p.m., when it, too, turns into a pumpkin on weeknights. The damages for this short trip to Europe, between my friend and I, were a bit over $50. And temporary insomnia from meat obsession.
Enoteca at Goose The Market
2503 North Delaware Street
Hours: m - f, 10 am - 8 pm
Sat, 10 am - 6 pm