402 West 43rd Street off Ninth Avenue
about $700 for four, with a lot of drinks, with tip
â™¥ â™¥ â™¥
Some friends I met while traveling in Ireland were in town. Remembering how much we all liked our seafood while we were traveling, I booked a table for four at Esca. At least two people are required to order the tasting menu per table, so my companions opted for that while I ordered the crudo appetizer, or tasting portions of raw seafood: uni served on its shell, an oyster, scallops with chervil, razor clams with chilis and hamachi with scallions. I’ve never had seafood worshipped this way. I salivated over the carpaccio yellowfin tuna and the linguine with mahogany clams and pancetta. The shrimps with caper and thyme vinaigrette, the squid-ink spaghetti with cuttlefish and the striped bass with caramelized apples were all delicious. The Maine halibut was a little bland if not eaten with the burdock root and black trumpet mushrooms, but the scallops were perfectly seared. I loved the warm fruit turnover and the raspberry ice cream for dessert. Unfortunately, I could not find room in my stomach to accommodate the creme brulée.
There was no Guiness beer but there were plenty of other wee-drinks: a bottle of Marchese di Gresy, another bottle of Moscato D’Asti and yet another bottle from Piemonte for dessert. Champagne, vodka and gin and tonics were also ordered several times before the main courses were served. Esca, which means bait in Italian, is a great place for groups–just don’t bring Irish friends who can outdrink you.
It’s not surprising that Esca includes Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich