I write this with a heavy heart.
Esca is a favorite place of mine (always dinner) and I have had two sets of friends who were disappointed there (both lunch) which amazed me. I started with grilled polipo and my friend with bufalo mozzerella with sundried tomatoes. We both enjoyed both. My friend had frito misto which was terrific for awhile, lovely crispy shrimps and squid rings, and I had my favorite pasta with crab and sea urchin roe. Mine was mighty disappointing this go. The pasta was Al Dente To Death, and the usually delicately prepared dish was a congealing, unpleasant amalagam. Oh, well. My friend made a face and asked me what I thought of a corner of a piece of fried scrod. It smelled strongly of ammonia, and we flagged down our waiter who offered to bring her something else. She said she didn't want something else, she just wanted that fish to go away. The dish was taken away and the manager came by to report that the chef was "dissecting" the plate to identify the problem. It seemed to me that there was some cross-contamination of the food by an ammonia-soaked cloth. No one was contentious and our service was attentive.
They brought out a replacement fairly quickly, but we were very short on time at that point and unable to finish our meal. It was unfortunate all around, not a great experience, and we were disappointed and a little surprised that we had been charged for that entrée. Time was of the essence, though, and we decided to let it be.
I have had other restaurant experiences where I have felt lunch to be sort of a second string operation, and lunch on a Wed. in the theater district is asking for trouble, I suppose. Still, this was pretty crappy stuff, and embarrassing for the one whose big idea it was to go there.
An aside, one of the objections that friends made was that their bottle of wine was not left with them at the table but whisked away. Their service was spotty, empty wine glasses neglected (our was not). The explanation to their inquiry was that they would never have enough wine buckets for everyone. ?
Dejected to find my favorite bartender gone, too. Sad, sad day.