A lot has changed since our last visit to Essensia. Former Executive Chef Venoy Rogers has moved on, and Executive Chef Julie Frans is now leading the kitchen. Chef Frans is no stranger to the restaurant at The Palms Hotel & Spa: She’s back at the helm after taking a two-year break that included plenty of travel around the globe. What you see on the seasonal menu is inspired by these journeys.
One look at the selections, and you’ll find Caribbean influences across the board. The Bahamian-Style Shrimp & Conch Ceviche, for instance, features bright citrus and spice that pop on the plate and the palate; the accompanying crispy plantains are the ideal scoop for snatching everything up. Another appetizer — Grilled Octopus — wowed us on all fronts. We’ve had issues with other octopus dishes being way too chewy, but this wasn’t the case here. Everything about the plate was perfect, including the cold preparation and the touch of lemon that brought the flavors full circle.
Our favorite plate of the evening? The Jerk Spiced Pork Tenderloin. Each bite was an absolute delight. All of the elements, from the guava habanero rum sauce and cauliflower “couscous” to the chayote squash and jicama slaw, had us on Cloud 9. You get a tasty mix of sweetness and saltiness throughout the dish that’s oh-so-addicting. Pair it with one of Essensia’s Garden-to-glass cocktails (we suggest the Three Peared or the Lazy in the Shade), and you’re good to go.
For Instagram, you’ll be hard pressed to find a worthier dish than the Seared Local Corvina. It’s stunningly colorful, and there’s so many layers to the dish — carrot coconut ginger puree, cashews, garden greens and rainbow veggies — that it’s as much of an adventure for your taste buds as it is for your eyes.
When it comes to dessert, there are two words you need to remember: Pineapple Cheesecake. Dark rum caviar and pineapple chutney take this creamy cheesecake to another level. There won’t be any remnants of this nightcap on your plate. If cheesecake isn’t your thing, you have many other options to choose from, including the Passion Fruit Key Lime Pie. There’s no shortage of sweets here.
With this new menu, Essensia continues to be a “restaurant for all.” Whatever your preferences or restrictions — vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. — you’ll most likely find something to enjoy here. And that’s why Essensia is still one of Mid-Beach’s most popular restaurants: vibrant and accessible cuisine.