Though food is easily one of the most important aspects of a restaurant, I’m learning that at times, factors like setting and the overall feel of a place can help to leave an impression. After all, eating out is often a social activity. In many cases, it helps to be in a comfortable place, at least when it can be helped.
I was invited to check out 낭만공작소 (Nangman Gongjakso; Romantic Work) by a friend of mine who lived in the area. As often as I had visited Sangmu, I rarely ever found myself hanging out near this area, which just happened to be near the KDJ Convention Center. As I arrived first, I got to find some good seats in the moderately busy cross between a restaurant and cafe and studied the menu with anticipation while waiting for my company to arrive.
As expected, there was no shortage of drink options on the menu. The usual suspects were all available, though some of them went under cute names like Oh, Choco and Gentlemen Green Tea. There were also a few unique choices like the Berry Sister Con Latte and the Salty Cheese Crust Ice Cream that left me hesitantly curious. Since I was there for food, I opted to continue looking through the menu, passing a page filled with a large variety of beers from around the world. I then reached the food items which consisted of choices like Nacho Chips, Frittata, Buttered Squid, French Toast, and an assortment of options ranging anywhere from breakfast to dinner fare. My attention was immediately grabbed by stuff like the Chicken Parmigiana and the Arancini with Tomato Curry Sauce. Honestly, I was really torn on the two for some time before I eventually settled on the former. My friend and I also ordered the Cream Sauce Shrimp Brunch after debating between that and the Spain Cazuela Brunch, both of which came in the form of platters meant to feed at least two people. As dinner was already getting a little pricey, we didn’t bother with any drinks.
After we placed our orders, the wait ended up being a little longer than we hoped. On the bright side, we were able to serve ourselves water as we caught up during the time it took for our food to be prepared. The first to arrive was the Chicken Parmigiana, which had me all sorts of excited. Unfortunately, that excitement was quickly dashed as I cut into the pool of melted cheese that I hoped was hiding some variation of a chicken cutlet smothered in marinara sauce. What I got, and failed to take pictures of, was a piece of breaded and fried chicken breast that was cooked in some sort of spicy and mildly sweet kimchi sauce. I’ve had a lot of unique variations on this classic comfort dish, but this was definitely my first time having a kimchi version of it. It wasn’t exactly bad. If anything, it reminded me of some of the fancier versions of the popular fried pork cutlets I’ve had in the past. Unfortunately, when you’re expecting tomato sauce and get kimchi, it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed.
The Cream Sauce Shrimp Brunch, which came shortly after, certainly offered a fair amount of food. We received a small cast iron skillet filled with what was basically shrimp alfredo without pasta that had been topped with greens. On the side, we received a simple salad and some bread to dip into the sauce. I enjoyed the simplicity and the presentation of this platter, especially since the salad had not been drenched in any sort of sweet dressing, but it was a bit of a hassle to eat at times. One thing that took me by surprise was just how filling this dish was, as we struggled to finish off those last few bites. Who knew bread could be so filling?
Overall, our experience at 낭만공작소 was a decent one. Though the food was memorable for unexpected reasons, the overall setting and atmosphere was nice for my platonic date. What was supposed to be a simple dinner easily evolved into hours of chatting and reminiscing comfortably. I would recommend this spot to any small groups who may be searching for something different that’s a little further away from the usual hangout spots. Just be prepared for surprise fusions if you’re ordering the food.
Address: 광주광역시 서구 치평동 1278-8 (near the Kim Dae Jung subway stop)
Hours: 10:00AM to 1:00AM
Average Price Range: 10,000 to 12,000 per person