Michael Tips, the master behind the drinks program, chatted with us while we perused the list. I was white whining it Friday night but D convinced me to order a cocktail. Rarely endorsing mixed drinks beyond a vodka soda or martini, his suggestion holds weight. He tried the Five Points. With lemon juice, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Honey Simple Syrup, this is a modern interpretation of a sidecar. And delicious. And beautiful. Note oversized ice cubes.
Michael told us he does not buy his cubes from Neve Luxury Ice, that would be too spendy. Rather, he makes the giant cubes in the back and chips off smaller pieces for each evening.
Feeling brave under the spell of our friendly conversation with Michael, I ordered the Grace, Stoli Raz, Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Hefty Spoonful of Strawberries, Topped with Champagne.
Normally way too sweet sounding for me, but this was easy on the simple syrup. Summery berry deliciousness.
I started with squash blossoms, something I jump at anytime they are on the menu. Essex's are stuffed with niçoise olives and ahi tuna, satisfyingly hearty and salty but overtaking the light zucchini flavor of the blossoms. A delicious romesco sauce accompanies, which I used to nibble with other stuff instead of on the blossoms themselves. Lightly fried, lightly battered. Good.
A standard beet, orange and burrata salad was also good. This one has a little kick to it containing chunks of hazelnut brittle. Not my favorite thing, but it definitely added an unexpected dimension, and D really loved them sizable chunks. The freshness and flavors of this salad are solid.
We shared the fairly giant bowl of grilled sweet corn succotash. This is a winning side dish for any menu item. Lots of corn cut from the cob, and not overcooked. Slices of new potato and halves of cherry tomatoes. On top two cherry tomatoes were stuffed with jalapeño cheese, a nice touch reminiscent of jalapeño poppers (one of my favorite guilty pleasures).
For a main, D ordered the Grilled Angus Hanger Steak. Petite Tomato Salad, Housemade Steak Sauce. Because he orders steak medium-well/well, I am almost embarrassed to show a picture of the resulting shoe leather. The tomato salad was gorgeous, though. Dressed very lightly, with leaves of arugula, the summery freshness of the tomatoes really stood out
In summation, of the food I would say the style lands somewhere between pub grub and gastropub. Gastropub bring to mind London's The Eagle and their Spanish influenced fare or locally The Village Idiot on Melrose with their slightly more highbrow food. Unsure how to categorize the food at Essex correctly, I will say that I was very pleased with the quality of their food, the freshness of the ingredients and the variety on the menu. Other tempting items on the menu include Pork Belly + Scallop Skewers, Figs in a Blanket (prosciutto wrapped figs), Duck Confit Salad, Short Rib Shepherd's Pie, and Oxtail Beef Ravioli. This hearty menu definitely deserves another go-round by yours truly.
review with pics: http://foodshethought.blogspot.com/20...