My friends and I gave ES a try last night. To sum it up, I can understand the mixed reviews found on this board.
The decor was outstanding. With amazingly high ceilings and a golden age flair, the place had a nice ambiance.
Service was functional and bordering on icy with our main server. One of the bus help actually stuck his neck out over our table in order to see around a pillar. In fact, his body was so far in, my view of the person across from me was obstructed. It wasn't too big of a deal, but it did interupt conversation, and we were all taken aback.
We tried the bone marrow and salt cod fritters for starters. The bone marrow was delicious and had a buttery texture. However, the dish came without the sea salt. Since it enhances the flavor of the marrow, we asked for some to be brought out. Our server didn't seem too happy about getting the salt. The fritters were tasty, nothing too outstanding, but I liked how the consistency of the mashed potatoes melded with the fried outside and the piece of cod. Tartar sauce and spiced ketchup that came with the dish weren't that special. The fritters were creatively arranged in a wooden salt cod box. I wonder if they reuse those boxes.
For the main course, I was set on ordering the pork chops since that seemed to be the most recommended dish. However, when I saw that beef cheeks (face, not butt!) were on the menu, I instantly changed my mind. If you ever find cheeks on a menu, I suggest you order it. That particular cut of meat has never failed me at moderate - fine dining establishments. This rendition of beef cheeks was fabulous. Braised in a red wine sauce for many hours, served on a bed of parsnip mash and topped with a crushed pine nut seasoning, I would say this dish was the highlight of my experience. Dining companion 1 had the striped bass that was served with a lima bean sauce which was just added to the menu a week ago (according to the server). The fish was fork tender and the sauce gave the dish a very fresh and clean essence. The portion sizes left us full, but with enough room for dessert. At $22 per dish, I found them to be of fair value. Dining companion 2 and 3 had steak frites and beef bourgogne respectively. I did not get to taste these dishes, so I can't comment but they seemed to like it.
For dessert, pineapple upside down cake and chocolate tart were ordered. The pineapple upside down cake was disappointing for 7 bucks. The requiste pineapple ring on the top was paper thin, the cake was passably buttery and crumbly but the dollop of 'coconut cream' was absurdly small for it to be listed in the description. While you could justify the cost of the tart, I'm not a fan of eating chocolate in the consistancy of refridgerated butter, so it wasn't for me. The tart was served with a small ball of some sort of homemade ice cream and whipped cream.
So thats my take. ES can be an outstanding restaurant given an enthusiastic server, and a careful selection of dishes. However, there are enough hickups in the system that could make your experience an unfavorable one because of the price you end up paying. Our bill came out to 35pp for 4 and we did not have alcohol.