February 29, 2012

Essensia Restaurant & Lounge

A friend of mine invited me to share a meal with her at The Palms Hotel in Miami Beach. The restaurant, called Essensia, was situated at the edge of a lush, tropical garden facing a pool where guests were working on their tans...

Essensia Restaurant is all about using organic, natural and local Florida ingredients to prepare their dishes. The food on the plates was really good-looking, so pretty that I was hesitant to destroy them with my fork!

Tri Colored Citrus Salad ($12)

This was nature on a plate: Dates, Marcona Almonds, Shaved Parmesan, frisée Salad in a Spanish Sherry Vinaigrette. The ingredients were all very fresh and I loved the way the salad was crowned with a stunning orange flower which just served to enhance the beauty of this luscious mélange of goodness.

Their salad menu is extensive, all made from ingredients sourced locally. I got to taste the burrata, goat cheese and heirloom tomatoes and they were exquisite. It was nice to see the names of the Miami farms where the ingredients came from like Paradise Farms and Teena's Pride.

Lavender Thyme Grilled Rack of Lamb ($39)

This gorgeous lamb was Served with Pistachio Mint Yogurt, Finished with Juniper Berry Balsamic, Israeli Couscous with Fire Roasted Red Peppers and Eggplant. I cannot praise this dish enough: the lamb was tender and rare, the yogurt sauce creamy and succulent. I loved the couscous salad, so much so that I rushed to the supermarket afterwards to get some couscous and try to replicate this at home to share with my kids.

Local Grass Fed Braised Beef Short Ribs ($38)

...served with Fig Ancho Chile Chocolate Demi and so soft and tender that it practically melted in my mouth like butter, each morsel traveling gently down my throat to make my belly smile.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding ($10)

This was practically a chocolate bomb, each bite an explosion of pure chocolate flavor that hit me in all corners of my mouth, the blow softened just a bit by the sweet strawberries that topped the pudding.

The cuisine here is indeed "food for thought": it made me think again about the importance of using ingredients produced locally instead of importing items that can be sourced right here in Miami. The prices are reasonable and Essensia Restaurant has a wonderful brunch on Sundays and a delightful kid's menu...and all this in a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere amid swaying palms and ocean breezes. It was like eating in paradise.

Essensia Restaurant

3025 Collins Avenue

Inside The Palms Hotel

Miami Beach, FL 33140

Websites for the local Miami farms:

By Contributor Writer Brenda Benoit

Essensia Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

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