Downtown Eno Vino has commanding rooftop views

PHOTOS: Restaurant offers 360-degree vista.

It’s almost overwhelming when you step out of the elevator and onto the 10th floor.

Your line of sight beelines to the back window, which acts as a fall-away frame to an up-close view of the Capitol building–and it’s difficult to tear your eyes away.

But tear them away you must, as there’s so much else to see in the new downtown Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro space, which is located on the ninth and 10th floors of the recently opened AC Hotel Downtown Madison on North Webster Street.

Like so many Madisonians who’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Capitol from some of the city’s best vantage points, I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’ve experienced a handful of moments where I just stop and stare at the handsome dome that marks the city’s center.

And maybe it’s because it caught me off guard, or the fact that it was finally a bright blue summerlike day, but the view Eno Vino offers has to be one of the best in the city.

It surely is one of the best in the category of rooftops restaurants with Capitol views–there’s only a handful of rooftop eateries in Madison to begin with.

“This view. You can’t beat the view,” says Jose “Pepe” Luis Granados, co-owner of Eno Vino.

Downtown Eno Vino has commanding rooftop views

Three days after Eno Vino officially opened its doors on May 8, I walked through the new space with Granados and Sara Granados, the events and marketing director.

Pepe, who opened the original Eno Vino at Junction Road on the west side with fellow owners, John Smithe and Bruce Crass, still seemed to be as taken by the expansive space as I was. Sara walked me through the 10th floor first, which is where a long wrap-around bar anchors and divides the space between a bar and lounge area and a large, open dining room that faces an open kitchen. Lounge areas include fireplaces flanked by couches and chairs, and high-top tables fill the bar area. Down the hallway is a breakfast bar, which Eno Vino also operates under hotel standards, as well as a private conference/banquet room that fits about 50 people.

During the walk through, I kept feeling my eyes drift back to that Capitol.

“There’s not a bad seat in the house,” Sara says.

She’s right–she proved it to me by leading me into the women’s bathroom. A wall of mirrors meets a wall of windows, and again I gawk in disbelief at the incredible view. Collectively, there’s a 360 degree view of downtown Madison through all the windows on the 10th floor.

We walked down to the ninth floor to check out the smaller bar and lounge area. Sara clicked open the accordion window doors that connect the bar area to a lovely outdoor patio. As we walked out into the sunlight, I imagined the sweet sounds of Concerts on the Square that would drift to this patio on Wednesday nights in the summer.

They hope the patio can have a life longer than one season a year, Sara says, as they have space heaters, heated tile and a sizeable overhang in the case of rain.

Back upstairs, Pepe tells me how amazing it’s been to see the progress of the space and Eno Vino’s second location. For those who love the west-side Eno Vino, this new spot has the same concept, but a completely different menu. The downtown location offers an impressive wine selection offering 373 different labels under the eye of sommelier Gordon Brown, a full cocktail list a la master mixologist Kenneth Dunn and a small plates menu. Pepe says executive chef Anibal Brandt and his team of sous chefs Hector Correia and Antonio Aguilar came up with 56 items, of which the team picked the best 20 to appear on the new menu. Three specialty items are the calamari fries, scallops and a petite filet, Pepe says.

Pepe and Sara’s eyes widen as they explain how packed the place has been in just the first two days of service. Pepe points to the floor-to-ceiling, climate-controlled wine cellar that holds about 450 bottles in each of its three sections. While the first two sections looked to be at capacity, the third section was nearly empty.

“That was full Monday,” Pepe says.