To date I’ve enjoyed four delicious dinners at Room 12, the new Farm-to-Table restaurant located at the Essex Inn. That’s to say, two delicious dinners in situ and a fifth tasty meal that was prepped, packed and ribboned for me to enjoy at home. A culinary hat trick! (Essex Inn Welcomes New Chef and Innkeeper)
Since my first review two months ago, I’ve at least quadrupled the number of perfect Essex Inn meals I’ve enjoyed. Each is as good (or better) than the last. No kidding! And while the best proof that they’re serving up delicious fare in a warm and inviting atmosphere is a memorable dinner (call 963-4400 to make a reservation any night except for Tuesday or Wednesday, when they take a well deserved break), I simply must share with you my most recent experience in case you didn’t realize that Essex Inn takeout is available and oh-so-good.
Tasty Essex Inn Takeout
Offering takeout is a tricky business for restaurants. It’s challenging to juggle telephone orders and preparation with in-house orders. In a sense, they’re two different beasts. The timing is different (everything needs to be completed simultaneously), the presentation is obviously totally different, temperatures are difficult to ensure, etc. So given the built-in challenges, most fine dining establishments opt for the simpler path.
But Keith Castro is not one to choose the easy way out. Right from the get-go he made a commitment to serve takeout, and he’s consistently impressed me with made-to-order specials, custom tailored to my diet and preferences, again and again.
I’ll let my bride describe for you her decadent creamy tomato and crab bisque and the spinach and cheese stuffed artichoke hearts that she begrudgingly allowed me to sample. Flag her down on Main Street; it’ll be worth the effort.
In the meantime, here’s a quick review of my Essex Inn takeout dinner last night.
Oenophile’s Shabby Chic?
I laughed upon arriving at the Essex Inn to pick up my meal. A repurposed wine crate served as the ultimate “shabby chic” take away box. All of the fuss goes into the food, but each dish had been meticulously annotated so it was easy to tell who’s dishes belonged to whom. This is helpful in a household with diet peculiarities. For example, it prevented my vegetarian bride from accidentally diving into my duck confit, heaven forbid!
It’s also worth acknowledging a couple of downsides to ordering Essex Inn takeout. It means forgoing the enchanting atmosphere, Lanai’s beautiful smile, Keith’s laughter, and “bumping into” neighbors. It also means dining sans Katie Zilch, the smart and articulate server who acts as our culinary tour guide whenever we’re fortunate enough to eat in the Essex Inn dining room. Luckily I arrived just as Katie, Lanai and Keith were converging, so I stalled a minute to enjoy their good humor.
I’ll let the photographs above entice you, but I will admit that I oooh’ed and aaah’ed through the diver scallops wrapped in prosciutto. Keith performs inspired feats of flavor with scallops. Gastronomic alchemy. These were no exception. A bed of delicate shredded lettuce and grated cheese with zesty wine dressing offset the rich protein perfectly.
And what better main course than duck confit on a frosty winter’s ever? Especially when paired with wild boar sausage and fingerling potatoes… Smoky, grilled fresh vegetables (zucchini, asparagus, onions, peppers) rounded out the meal while putting to rest any notion that I was being too decadent. A balanced diet. Delicious!
If your stomach just rumbled, you know what I’m talking about. If it didn’t, hustle down to the Essex Inn before it’s too late!