The Essex Restaurant Centerbrook CT

The Essex Restaurant
Centerbrook, CT

Dreams do come true.  A few weeks ago I had a dream that I was walking through waist high water towards a small village.  Water in dreams most often means a good thing to come.  Once in the village I found myself standing inside a fish market.  There were beautiful displays of fish on all sides of the market and in the center the fishmonger was preparing the cuts of the day.   I asked for some fish and he proceeded to cut them into small perfect squares.  They were about 2 inches high, clear, translucent succulent looking pieces of perfect fish.  Since that dream I've had a craving for a piece of white fish and I finally found it here at The Essex Restaurant in Centerbrook, CT.  

My husband and I love going out to dinner for new eating experiences.  We had gotten into a rut recently and had been visiting the same favorites for a while and therefore we had somehow missed hearing about The Essex.  Until this past Friday that is when a friend passed along an invitation to a future event.  Once we read about it online and saw the menu we decided to take the ride to Centerbrook for happy hour and check it out.  We were so glad we did!

Originally, we thought we'd just try a drink and an appetizer at the bar from the bar menu and come back for dinner another night.  But then we tried the appetizers and wanted more.

This Crispy Pork Belly appetizer is on the regular menu.  It was a nice chunk of pork belly sitting on an apple carrot puree with tangy shredded carrots on top.   

Bob (aka the Carb Man...) had a non carby appetizer to start.  I might even say this could be a Paleo appetizer and we probably should have switched apps.  Octopus is his favorite go to appetizer though at any restaurant so it was a given he would try this.  It was the Duo of Octopus & Pork with 
black garlic, chickpea, blood orange.  We loved the presentation as much as the dish itself. 

Duo of Octopus & Pork appetizer

Once we heard the fish on the menu that night described we decided to proceed with dinner.  Walu, also referred to as snake mackerel, is a fish from Hawaii and is a white, buttery, yet mild, white fish.  Was this the fish in my dreams?  Well, it was what I was hoping for and couldn't have been any more perfect than it was.  It was accompanied with produce from Long River Farm.  Heirloom tomatoes, watercress, and a pesto went so perfectly and tasted so fresh I felt like I was eating Summer tomatoes and greens.

Walu fish with heirloom tomatoes and pesto

Dinner for Bob was the Fried Chicken and Biscuits.  This was delicious crispy, fried chicken that was moist inside and crispy.  I could taste a subtle hint of cinnamon in it that made it devine! The saltiness you get with the side of pickles and buttery goodness with the biscuits.  The biscuit was so buttery and soft and yes he shared half his biscuit with me thank goodness or I would have had to do some begging just to have more for myself ;-).  

Chicken and Biscuits

On to everyone's favorites, dessert time.  We have not been eating desserts lately so this was a real treat.  My dessert was a Winter Citrus bowl of citrusy goodness.  It looks like a pudding/mousse yet it was a tart, light as air not too sweet concoction with bits of lemon cake (I believe) underneath it all.  I'm not a sweet freak so this was so perfect for me.

Winter Citrus

And I couldn't hold back from tasting some of this visually stunning as well as delicious bread pudding with caramel.  

Bread Pudding

Overall, our visit was a wonderful experience.  The restaurant has a open, cozy, and warm vibe. It was so warm and inviting sitting at the corner of the bar that I wish we lived closer.  For now this'll have to be a treat to go to.  The bartenders, Dana and Mikaela, were friendly, professional, and were knowledgeable and focused on making impressive cocktails, shaking them to a perfect icy cold temperature.