Just wanted to write about what a lovely experience I had at Esca tonight.
First of all, I got there before my date, and the host graciously asked if I would like to wait at the table for him.
We were served some complimentary bruschetta with cannellini, mackerel and onion, as well as a bowl of olives. There was whole wheat foccaccia and sourdough bread. The waiter informed us that there were 17 kinds of olive oil in the kitchen!
You can imagine what a tough time we had deciding on what to order. The menu is divided into "crudo", hot antipasti, primi (mostly pasta) and secondi (fish).
We began with the hamachi crudo in a Gaeta olive aioli. This was superb. The portion was a little small, but it only whetted our appetite for more.
We also ordered the mozzarella in carozza. It came with an herb salad and was absolutely greaseless and very tasty.
We split an appetizer course of the gnocchi in tomato basil bufala mozzarella sauce as well.
The main course is what really stood out. A huge salt-baked branzino (sea bass) for two. They showed us the giant fish before they filleted it, and then served it with a little fruity olive oil. We also ordered the delicious grilled asparagus and roasted fingerling potatoes on the side.
Then it was time for dessert: a warm banana cake with banana gelato and macadamia nuts, and a chocolate almond cake. A side of complementary cookies accompanied the dessert: pistachio biscotti, chocolate cookies, raspberry gels, and lemon cake.
All in all, a fabulous evening! Next time I might try the prix fixe... there were some fascinating items like monkfish liver, bucatini with spiced baby octopus, and wild seared salmon with ramps.