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“High end prices with unimpressive food”

Esca Restaurant & Wine Bar
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Ranked #34 of 156 Restaurants in Middletown
Cuisines: Italian
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Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Bar scene
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Late Night, Reservations
Level 6 Contributor
119 reviews
101 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
“High end prices with unimpressive food”
Reviewed May 26, 2010

We made a last minute decision to dine out on a Friday night and chose Esca because we had heard about it from a friend. We called 30 minutes before for a reservation and was told no problem, just show up. We arrived at 6:15 to a mostly empty restaurant. There's a few tables along the sidewalk...why anyone would want to eat on the corner of Rt. 66 and Main St. is beyond me, but sure enough, their were people outside trying to enjoy a meal amidst the non-stop din of cars and trucks 10 feet away. We were greeted at the door and shown a nice table on the mezzanine overlooking the action. Service was prompt and friendly, and in a few moments we were sipping our drinks looking over a most interesting menu.

I chose the zuppa di mussels. The meat was overdone, not much flavor all in all, a few bits of tomatoes, pancetta that looked and tasted like american bacon. Rather lacking in taste and somewhat disappointing. My wife ordered the antipasto misto which was a small plate of prosciutto slices, olives, mushrooms, a small stuffed pepper, and some camponata. I have eaten plenty camponata to die for, and this was lousy in comparison. The rest of the plate was barely ok, but certainly didn't live up to its billing.

My main course was the grilled halibut in a tomato reduction special. It consisted of about a six ounce piece of very fresh meat cooked to perfection although almost no seasoning that I could taste, sitting on a very ordinary risotto, garnished with arugula (I think), with the most delicious sauce all around. The sauce made the dish although I would have preferred a little more seasoning on the grilling and a garnish with more taste. Our other meal was the crispy chilean sea bass. Rather than get into the details, lets just summarize, lacking flavor and not worth ordering. Desert was a creme brulee made with made with "tahitian vanilla" that was yet another half-hearted attempt at good marketing, plus a decaf coffee that was undrinkable.

Dinner for two, including appetizer, one drink each, main course, dessert and tip was over $140. A little pricey for the quality and we left a little disappointed. Having said that, service was excellent, the seating was comfortable, and the ambience was good. I would like to go back and try some of the meat dishes at some point, but there are lots of other restaurants around that look more interesting.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank JoshuaMConnecticut
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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