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.
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.
Spaghetti 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.Lovely 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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