Give David Hardie credit. The owner of the building and restaurant that was named Enotria for two decades went “all in,” as he says, on trying to make that spot exciting and a draw to diners.
The spot is the corner of Del Paso Boulevard and Arden Way, just a few minutes from the central city grid — but seemingly on another continent for some restaurant customers. Hardie says he decided from the start that Enotria needed region-wide attention to do well.
“David Hardie took a gamble on that location,” says Mike Dunne, the former Sacramento Bee restaurant critic who remembers Enotria opening. “He’s gotten good chefs and had a great wine program all these years, and he sunk a fortune into it. With the exception of the Firehouse, I can’t think of another restaurant of their era that put as much focus on wine as on food.”
Two years ago, Hardie described his thinking to me as straightforward: “If we have great food, great wine and great service, people will come up here,” he said.
That comment came when he was preparing for the most dramatic — and, it would turn out, the last — attempt to sell Enotria as a special kind of destination restaurant that would draw people into North Sacramento.
Hardie closed Enotria in January 2014. It was done in by, among other things, the lack of business during the week, when diners aren’t necessarily looking for big excitement or big prices. Hardie lives in Incline Village, along the north shore of Lake Tahoe, where he is a principle in Hallador Investment Advisors. He said at the time that overseeing a restaurant from two hours away was wearing him down, and that he simply wanted to be the landlord.
Landlord is his only role with the building now. The restaurant there has a new name, Cask & Barrel, and is run by highly-regarded chef Gabriel Glasier and his pastry chef, partner and fiancée, Kristel Flores. They’re trying a very different and somewhat unconventional approach. The food has its own exciting originality, but the feel is neighborhood eatery.
For more on Cask & Barrel’s new (and so far successful, approach), check out Rick Kushman’s November article, “Welcome to the Neighborhood”