To say that Essensia is a great restaurant would be an understatement. Nestled inside The Palms Hotel & Spa, this upscale Mid-Beach restaurant fuses global influences for flavorful dishes that delight the senses. After trying out their latest seasonal fare and getting a sneak peek of their Miami Spice offerings, all the praise in our previous review still stands — and then some.
Here’s the thing about Essensia: You’ll walk out of there feeling like a million bucks; Executive Chef Venoy Rogers III, Chef de Cuisine Julie Mitchell and the kitchen team have figured out how to make healthy food taste delicious. Unlike other spots where healthy food tastes likes cardboard or isn’t worth the price tag, Essensia strikes the delicate balance of value, flavor and healthfulness.
When we finished our 12-dish feast, there was no hint of a food coma and every hint of satiety. In fact, we walked out pretty energized. It’s hard not to feel good after a meal with vibrant starters like House Potato Gnocchi and Tuna & Compressed Watermelon. The crazy soft and fluffy gnocchi sat underneath a layer of arugula, aged Parmesan and truffle that just made our palate sing. The tuna and compressed watermelon was as much a feast for our taste buds as it was for our eyes; the chiles cut the sweetness of the watermelon and made for an “OMG THIS IS SO GOOD” moment. It was almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
As for mains, it’s hard to pick our favorite. Was it the Gulf Shrimp and Chorizo with plump crustaceans and a delectable summer pea puree? Was it the Certified Angus Beef Sirloin with its primo meat, delicious jus and a mind-blowing sweet potato-manchego mille feuille? Or was it the Pan Seared Natural Chicken with a creamy Parmesan-pea polenta and super-fresh chile-corn relish? All three of them deserve a gold star, but that chicken …
At Essensia, the decadent desserts are equally creative. A Cafe con Leche Pastelito with coffee semifreddo and guava-yuzu sauce elevates the Cuban pastry while retaining that corner bakery charm we locals love. Just as memorable was the Chocolate Indulgence, which lives up to its name unabashedly. Chocolate cremeux, Cocoa Krispies, sea salt and olive oil powder come together for a sweet, satisfying end to the meal.
Given the talent in the kitchen, it’s no surprise that Essensia continues to blow us away with innovative, healthful food that lingers on our mind well after enjoying it. Aside from the new and fantastic seasonal fare, the restaurant has gotten a head start on Miami Spice with a pre-Spice menu this month. For $39 (or $23 for lunch), you can enjoy three courses, including some of the items listed above and other highlights like Baby Beet & Burrata and Gnocchi Caribe. Whether you opt for the regular menu or the prix-fixe offering, you can’t go wrong — Essensia Restaurant + Lounge delivers an exceptional dining experience.