BRISBANE | Essa Restaurant is the new venue from ex-Gauge head chef and co-owner head chef Phil Marchant. An unassuming street frontage opens up to a long, narrow, moody space. The windows are covered, lights are hidden and turned down low. Dark leather, exposed brick, black timber and green marble completes the look.
Behind the main long bar, the showpiece wood-fired grill built by Melbourne’s ‘The Brick Chef’, is on display for all to see. It announces to diners that they can expect food cooked over fire to play a big part in their meal. And it does.
Essa is home to some of the most exciting dining in Brisbane right now. The food is produce driven and approachable, founded in Marchant’s fine dining training. The menu rotates regularly, but judging by the excellent tasting menu on offer when I visited, you’ll not be leaving here disappointed.
Highlights on my visit included a simple plate of charred shishito peppers, fried chickpea beignets with caramelised scallop cream, and heirloom tomatoes with garlic emulsion and charcuterie with lashings of house made XO sauce.
Of the more substantial plates, hand rolled semolina gnochetti with spanner crab, carrot, and chilli were outstanding, as was the spatchcock quail with brown butter, caper leaves, and salt bush.
For drinks, it’s an impressive wines list, backed up with creative cocktails that compliments the food, and considered craft beers. We let Phil Poussart, formerly sommelier at Fico in Hobart, guide our drink choices, and his recommendations were spot on.
If the full tasting menu isn’t your thing, there’s an a la carte option available. Additionally, there’s a raw bar operating between 4:00pm and 5.30pm, and after 9pm. On that menu you’ll find small plates like oysters, caviar, crudo, tartare, and charcuterie. A great option, then, for either a full meal, or a drink and snacks.
181 Robertson Street
Telephone: (07) 3177 1011
Sat, Tue – Thu: 5:00pm to 11:00pm
Fri: 12:00pm to 3:00pm, 5:00pm to 11:00pm