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 Essensia Restaurant & Lounge  
 at the Palm Hotel, Miami Beach  
3025 Collins Avenue Miami Beach,  305.908.5458. www.thepalmshotel.com

Charming architectural details, palms trees, a soothing setting works in harmony with Chef Julie Frans'   sophisticated menu of seasonal farm-to table ingredients.

 

 

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food

 

 by Simone Zarmati Diament

photos: SFG

Built in 1939, a short distance from the hustle and bustle of what is today South Beach; the Palm Hotel still retains the soothing feel of times gone by thanks to the $20 million renovation by The Krause family, which include a luxury Spa, and Essensia, the restaurant and lounge.

Essensia, more Key West and Caribbean than Miami Beach, is a calming antidote to today’s stress.   The jazzy Essensia lounge bar, the elegant white-table-cloth indoor restaurant and the outdoor dining terrace - a curved wrap-around veranda with dark wooden floors, billowing white curtains and well-spaced tables under the lazy spin of ceiling fans - all overlook  the lush foliage, the organic chefs garden behind the Tikki Bar, the pool and the beach beyond and are a perfect setting to Chef Julie Frans’ farm-to-table seasonal menu.

Originally from San Diego, California, chef Frans, a graduate from The University of California Santa Barbara and the San Diego Culinary Institute, is keen on seasonal menus prepared with sustainable seafood, hormone-free meats, detoxifying ingredients and organically-grown products sourced from many of South Florida’s finest purveyors of farm-fresh produce. 

The wine list is stocked with  sustainable, organic & biodynamic selections in addition to a variety of wines,  and the specialty cocktail list ($12- $14) offers  choices like Poppy (Kinnikinick Craft Whiskey, grand poppy liqueur and muddled grapes); Cheer (Organic  Prairie vodka, middle pomegranate seeds, Hibiscus organic liqueur, organic Prosecco, fresh thyme from the backyard garden and apple bitters), Hot Tamarita (with tamarind, aji amarillo, organic tequila , agave, lime and Salerno blood oranges)…  A good wine-by the glass offering pairs nicely with a good freshly-baked bread basket or a cheeses and salami taster’s tray ($14). The affable waiters and sommelier are pleased to explain the menu (http://www.essensiarestaurant.com/menus/) and make suggestions.

Starters are packed with flavor and are large enough to be shared, from the seared grass-fed tenderloin tataki ($16), chef Frans’ version of Beef tartare seasoned with harissa vinaigrette, charmoula (a north African spice) and Turkish chile over a sweet beet purée and lightly seasoned greens, and the grilled octopus ($14), tender and flavorful  is served Spanish-style with chorizo and fennel, white bean purée, tomatoes confit and preserved lemon to the lip puckering Snapper ceviche  ($16), more salad than just ceviche with the addition of cut up fresh vegetables.

There’s also steamed mussels in Sam Adams beer ($12), grilled burrata flat bread (22) and beet bruschetta ($10).

The Thai lemongrass soup ($12) is fragrant with coconut milk, kaffir lime, tomato, mushroom, bok choy, herbs and can be ordered with the addition of shrimp or diver scallops ($8) which turns it into a main dish.

Salads are canvasses of tastes and textures like the walnut-crusted warm goat cheese ($14) with Brussels sprouts, pomegranate, Applewood bacon drizzled with honey-mustard vinaigrette; or the grilled beet salad ($16) with arugula, burrata, hazelnuts, vanilla oil and apple balsamic vinaigrette.

Entrees are divided into three categories: seafood, field & Farm and Vegetarian.

Every fish or seafood dish on the menu is well paired with sides – which are never repeated, and there’s hardly a false step in any of the creations ranging from the luscious local snapper ($36) seared Mediterranean-style with tomatoes, olives and capers and served over a bed of quinoa with grilled corn, pumpkin seeds and grilled mini peppers, to the sea whistle salmon ($30) grilled to moist perfection and served with green tea noodles, mustard greens, broccolini and Thai herbs.

From the fields and farm there are the grass-fed filet mignon ($48) with an abundant side of creamy polenta, a ragout of oyster mushrooms with leeks and white wine, roasted Brussels soups and truffle essence; the grilled New York Steak ($38) doused in miso-mustard sauce, a rare example that too many flavors can spoil a good steak and uneventful ricotta ravioli ($26).

There is a section of Shared Plates, such as Cowboy Steak ($89); a full rack of Mesquite-braised Korubata baby back ribs ($58) and seafood mixed grill ($95) with lobster tail, Amazonian paiche, prawns, diver scallops, all with a choice of two sides.

The Vegetarian offers a good choice of dishes like an Asian-style Veggie noodle bowl ($22), Eggplant Parmesan ($22) with kale pesto, gnocchi ($24) and more. We ordered a Za’atar roasted carrots and butternut squash ($18) with lentils, fresh herbs, feta and a tasty dollop of toasted cumin Greek yogurt − the tastier ingredient in the dish.

Desserts

And if you have any room left for dessert ($8 - $10), pastry chef Samantha Frei will treat you to a selection of Passion fruit cheese cake,    Coconut Panna Cotta with Fresh Papaya, Mango Sauce, Passion Fruit, and Chocolate Truffle Trio:  Pure Ecuadorian Chocolate 3 Ways; Flourless Cake, Ganache, Milk Chocolate Mousse, with Candied Hazelnuts and homemade ice creams and sorbets

At Essencia, Chef Julie Frans applies her philosophy to her dishes and the result is a rare opportunity to slow down, relax and indulge.

 

Essensia Restaurant & Lounge at the Palm Hotel, Miami Beach

es1Address: 3025 Collins Avenue Miami Beach, www.thepalmshotel.com
Phone: 305.908.5458.
Hours:   for  Breakfast daily 7:00am to 11:30am, lunch Monday – Saturday 11:30pm to 3:00pm, dinner  from 6 to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. on weekends) and  Brunch Sundays 11:30am to 3:00pm
Liquor: Full bar, organic cocktails 
Wines: A varied wine list  including sustainable & Organic  Wines
Cuisine:  Healthful, vibrant global and spa seasonal 
Prices for dinner: starters $10-$ 22; entrees $26 --$48; sides ($6 - $8)  
Service: Affable, competent
Ambiance:  casual chic
Cards: All major