Enigma is a little bit of a Courtenay Place outsider. Situated in the middle of a busy street which is either filled with your general law-abiding pedestrians, or boozy destructive punters (depending on the time of day), Enigma caters to a different crowd completely: think lone wolves, night owls, artists and passionate smokers.*
The place welcomes these people with open arms: those who want a smoke can sit out back in the spacious covered courtyard. Those who want to sit alone and scribble beautiful pictures of people (like the guy who was sitting next to me during my visit), or those who want to work on a psychology assignment while sipping a latte can do so quite happily without being assaulted by any kind of overbearing music or wait staff. Also, the couches at Enigma are very comfy and were, I believe, made to be occupied for hours on end, maybe even days.
Another great thing about Enigma is how incredibly laid-back the place is. The staff are friendly, but not overbearing, the clientele relaxed, and even the decor - a ragtag wall covered in gig posters, some mirrors and a giant graffiti bomb - doesn't feel like it's trying too hard (arguably it's not trying at all).
Food-wise Enigma knows their stuff. Their cabinet is full of amazing cakes, slices and little pre-made delicacies like arancini balls. Although the cabinet food always looks pretty damn tempting, I decided to try the tofu burger ($14) from the menu instead.
After peacefully (and unabashedly) staring at my neighbour the artist's portrait sketches for what felt like less than a minute, a giant tofu burger surrounded by a sea of fries emerged and was placed in front of me. To put things into biblical terms, this was a David vs Goliath-type situation. Fighting through giant mouthfuls, I was overwhelmed by a wonderful delicate balance between sweet and tangy in this monster burger of mine, as well finding the tofu perfectly cooked. Just amazing.
After some brave attempts, even I, with my long term experience of eating, couldn't finish the meal off. The fries, which were decent, lay picked at, but mostly forgotten. Embarrassingly, I had to walk out of the cafe with a crumbled makeshift doggie bag in my hand, defeated.
With Goliath-sized burgers and a laid-back vibe, Enigma is a great late night haunt.
*Obviously the cafe can't completely get away from letting in Courtenay Place regulars with their high pitched screams and slurs - I mean, the place is open until 1am on weekend nights and midnight all other nights, making it the third best option to grab a drunken carb-loaded snack (the first being maccas and second any of the multitude of kebab shops littered down the street. My personal favourite midnight munchie joint is Abrakebabra, not only does its name have a great pun, but it also serves great kebabs and the television has some interesting Turkish features. More on this in the actual Abrakebabra review**).
Photo credit: Sarah Knipping