Essencia

Let’s just get the excuses out of the way, shall we? Holidays, work, family, stress, blah, blah, blah. I know. It’s been a long time since we’ve chatted, Dear Reader. My bad.

I had every intention of doing some sort of Holiday Roundup, with a rundown of all the places I ate for free, thanks to the wonder of corporate Yuletide merriment. But you know what? I just got frakin’ lazy. (Speaking of frakin’ lazy, what’s up with the BSG season premiere not happening until March now? I mean, has the writer’s strike not punished us enough? But I digress.)

On to the subject at hand: Essencia. A tiny Peruvian place in oh-so-happening Hayes Valley. I was pretty stoked to check out Essencia last night as I remembered the phenomenal Peruvian meal I had a year ago or so at Andina in Portland.

The feeling of stokedness lasted through the description of the evening’s specials, which included a Wild Mushroom Ceviche. Color me joyous—it sounded divine. And its presence sort of made up for the fact that there wasn’t a single vegetarian entrée on the menu. Our waiter, a man both eager and earnest, assured me that the chef would be glad to make a special dish for me. Something about a Canario Bean Tacu Tacu with lots of veggies on top. I was game. I was even impressed when our waiter returned to the table to double check if eggs were okay with me. (Some folks don’t even bother. So kudos for him.)

But my happy dance ended when the food arrived. It wasn’t bad. It was just painfully mediocre.

The Ceviche was all lime and no nuance. Put enough lime and chile on a pair of sneakers and they’ll taste good, you know? None of the mushroom flavor made it through.

At least my entrée felt like an entrée. You know how I hate getting served a collection of sides. The Tacu Tacu—a fried bean and rice patty—took up a good portion of the plate, so the dish seemed substantial, if nothing else. (Emphasis on the “nothing else” part.) The flavor, however…well, I don’t even know what to say. It just kind of sat there. Perfectly edible, but boring. Like some guy your friend thinks she should date because he’s inoffensively nice, but secretly, she hates him because he has no passion. Oh, relationships.

Anyway, we skipped dessert for fear of calories wasted on unspectacular confections. (There’s no worse feeling, is there?) Their Quinoa Cannoli sounded promising—but then again, so did the Mushroom Ceviche. We just had to pass.

Onward and upward in the New Year, though, eh? I’ve got dinner plans at Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant tomorrow. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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Filed under Mid-range Meals, Reviews

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