Essencia Restaurant just opened last May. The building has a bar and kitchen downstairs and upstairs are a couple rooms for dining. Window doors open to the outside and music is in the background. The small tables are set with beige or white cloths on top of a contrasting floor length cloth. Coordinated napkins and different colors of fabric on the chairs complete the stylish set up. Bench seating was on one wall and the seats were pretty comfortable although the small tables are fairly close. The walls are decorated with various pieces of art. The menu offers a la carte selections and tastings of 4 or 5 courses. I didn’t notice wine pairings being offered but the wine list was fairly reasonable. Staff were very friendly, welcoming and spoke great English. We chose the 5 course tasting. Pacing and portion control were both wonderful.
The amuse bouche was a cold pairing of ice cream and cream of tomato on top of something crunchy. It was great. Also a Spanish croquette with ham and bechamel sauce. It was chewy with a crisp exterior and served warm. It was great.
Some fennel and paprika thin, tall breadsticks came with slices of plain bread or with apricots. Both slices had good crisp crusts and dense interiors. The sticks were both excellent.
Roast pumpkin was served with mozzarella and covered with beet root leaves that were tossed in an oil vinaigrette. The pumpkin was warm, creamy and sweet and went well with the tender greens. The cheese was creamy on the bottom of the dish. It was a nice balance of these elements that all went together splendidly.
Grilled mackerel was served with hazelnuts and sour cream and onion sauce. The strongly flavored mackerel was best eaten with the sauce to moderate it. The cream was a good match for the fish.
Fish ragú was served with large tube pasta. Sea bream and tomato made up the sauce. The thick pasta was cooked perfectly and dotted with chunks of fish and shellfish all in a wonderful tomato sauce. It adhered well to the pasta and was a very tasty dish.
Glazed octopus Bottone were fresh pasta stuffed with traditional neapolitan sweet onion sauce “Genovese”. A few pieces of grilled octopus were on the side and were nicely chewy, almost like an abalone. It was really good.
Salmon was plated with cream of yogurt and mustard. It was barely cooked and so tender. The fish paired beautifully with the sauce which all was covered with a couple leaves. It was a fine melding.
Dessert was a tart of pears on a buttery crust with creme fraiche. The tart was excellent alone and better with the cream. There was a little bit of chew on the crust where it had caramelized. It was amazingly good.
Last was a tin of butter cookies, a beignet of white chocolate and ginger, chocolate with rosemary. They were all wonderful, particularly the butter cookies. The chocolate ball was fudgy with only mild rosemary essence. It was a nice finish to a fine meal.