Essensia at the Palms

At Essensia, I discovered a gem of a family-owned hotel and unearthed a phenomenal restaurant where the talented Frank Jeannetti, former chef at top spots Pacific Time, Nemo and Pearl, runs the show. I was immediately impressed by Jeannetti’s sprightly, modern menu with artfully sourced ingredients and a healthful bent.

Ambiance: The elegant setting is straight out of a Caribbean plantation, with a wide curved veranda that serves as the larger part of the dining room.  Generously spaced tables are set with unfussy china, streamlined silver and a champagne-colored marble candle bowl with cozy upholstered wicker chairs. Chocolate brown paddle fans spin overhead, while a cadre of nattily dressed waiters. The inside dining room is equally stunning, with its delicate lighting cast from a cluster of flowering bud chandeliers and well-spaced tables dressed in white.

What Worked

  • An exceptional breadbasket that includes sesame-laden flatbreads perfect for dipping in the trio of housemade toppers
  • Creamy eggplant topping with a good zing of spice
  • A tiny chilled fingerling boat with peppery crème fraiche and a smattering of black Tobiko caviar eggs
  • A sliver of fresh fish doused in citrus with a nest of newborn sprouts
  • Steamed black Prince Edward Island mussels luxuriating in a harissa-spiked tomato and garlic broth
  • A pair of pristine crab cakes in a greaseless golden shell complemented by crunchy red cabbage slaw and a velvety lemon caper aioli
  • Near perfect signature yellowtail snapper with an emerald shoot of bok choy
  • Sensational, moist-as-the sea halibut resting on slivers of baby golden fingerling potatoes and pinky-thin green beans
  • Pepper-crusted beef tenderloin
  • Sweet caffeine-laced braised beef short ribs over rich mashed potatoes
  • Thrilling, dense, salty, slightly spicy orechiette with threads of earthy oyster mushrooms, tidbits of zucchini and eggplant and strips of sundried tomatoes
  • Subtly sweet orange-tinged cheesecake delicately laced with hazelnut brittle and a buttery hazelnut crust
  • A sustainable, organic and biodynamic wine list