When ESSA opened to the public, it was perhaps one of the most anticipated arrivals in recent memory. Shrouded in mystery since rumblings about the project emerged in 2018, ESSA arrived to much fanfare in August 2021, showing off an architecturally designed split-level interior and menu of progressive and pared-back eats. The space, located a mere stone’s throw from James Street, blends contemporary industrial materiality (think brass mesh windows, green Verde Alpi stone, exposed brickwork and steel alcoves softened by leather-lined banquettes and a greenery backdrop) with a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. Head chef and co-owner Phil Marchant is flexing his culinary muscle with a menu that embraces ingredients sourced from local farmers, hunters and providores, with raw, pickled, smoked and woodfired dishes a specialty. Sustainability and ethical sourcing is a foundational aspect of ESSA’s approach, with elemental cooking methods and fine-tuned cooking techniques looking to bring the best out of ingredients that are at their seasonal peak. Though the menu will be in constant flux, guests can expect dishes on the same level as wild venison tartare with bergamot, toasted buckwheat and hibiscus, woodfired spatchcock quail with brown butter, caper leaves and salt bush, and organic pork chop served on the bone. As for ESSA’s beverage offering, guests are able to browse a dynamic wine list and a refined array of progressive and technically impressive cocktails.

Take note: ESSA’s raw bar is open for walk-in patrons from 4:00 pm, with small share plates on offer until 5:30 pm. After the kitchen closes at 9:00 pm, the raw bar remains open for late-night snacks and sips. Bookings of eight or more guests will be required to dine off our $92 set menu.


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