My Dinner at Esca

March 17, 2016

You know how great it feels when you meet an old flame after a long time and find that you’re still in love?  That’s how I felt the other night at Esca.

When I worked at Gourmet I ate there all the time. Every Conde Nast editor did; the restaurant was just down the street, and if you wanted to take a writer out for lunch and not waste time traveling, that’s where you went.

Mostly, however, I went because I loved the food.

A long time has passed since then; it’s been a couple of years since I walked through those doors. But it felt a lot like coming home. There was Dave Pasternak – terrific chef and passionate fisherman – talking all things ocean.  There was the cosy, unpretentious room.  And the great wine list.

FullSizeRenderI began with shad roe – gorgeously cooked, still soft and rosy inside – surrounded with pickled vegetables. Hello spring!


A little bit of crudo.  I’m fairly sure Dave invented it; when the restaurant opened, he said that it was a classic dish, but whoever heard of Italians eating raw fish?


Grilled octopus. Tender, slight charred, lemon drenched, on a bed of beautiful beans.

FullSizeRender-3Spaghetti neri.  They laughed when I ordered it – they knew I would.  I can’t get enough of this funky, faintly spicy tangle of squid ink pasta, chiles and seafood.  It was as satisfying as ever.FullSizeRender-4Lovely vegetables – I especially liked that asparagus!

You will find this hard to believe, but a friend and I met for dinner at 7:30, and we ate and talked so happily we were stunned to look up and discover the tables around us growing empty; it was after midnight.

But that’s what happens when you find yourself at home again.

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1 Comment

  • Marilyn Moss says:

    Ah. I remember it well, when you took my friend and me there a few years ago. The meal was phenomenal and no lack of conversation and smiles all around the table. Is my memory correct…it was for lunch and you actually went back to work?