DANVILLE—If you are looking for a fine meal topped by exquisite pastries, head for Esin Restaurant at 750 Camino Ramon in the Rose Garden Center (formerly the site of Navlet’s nursery).
The husband-and-wife team of Esin and Curtis deCarion met in cooking school and now operate the restaurant plus upscale taverns in Danville and Lafayette. They established their first San Ramon Valley location tucked into the corner of a San Ramon shopping center in 1998 and ran that successfully until moving to the Danville location in 2008.
Their combination produces an excellent menu that evolves with the season as well as the desserts overseen by Esin. The dessert menu typically has 8-10 offerings plus a first-class list of single malt Scotch, bourbon and other suitably fine sips for after dinner.
We headed there for my bride’s birthday dinner—it is an excellent special occasion place with quality service—very suitable to celebrate a big day for my loving wife. It was surprising, for a Tuesday evening in late November, how busy the dining room was. We were happy that we made a reservation—it was the first question asked when we checked in.
Esin offers a number of specialty cocktails in addition to the fully stocked bar. My bride selected a XOLO, top-shelf Reposado tequila with agave nectar, gum syrup, fresh grapefruit and lime juice. I’m not a fan of mixed cocktails—prefer my bourbon or Scotch without adornment—but this was enjoyable. My bride loved it.
There were many interesting options for starters including cheeses, olives, soup, salads, roasted beets, burrata and grilled octopus. We opted for the Dixon lamb meatballs in a tomato-chili sauce. Not the best match for our cocktails, but we liked the meatballs and mopped up the sauce with the optional order of bread. Unless you are watching calories, include the optional bread when ordering dishes with sauces.
We’d pre-selected entrees to match the aged Hafner reserve chardonnay we brought from home for the special occasion. Esin has a wide-ranging wine list to suit any taste.
My bride selected the filo-wrapped chicken breast stuffed with three cheeses (feta, goat cheese and Grana Padrano). It was presented sliced in half over couscous with a roasted tomato coulis. The breast was perfectly cooked, moist and delicious with the cheeses and the coulis.
I opted for the grilled wild prawns and day boat scallops served with roasted potatoes, spinach and a caper and cauliflower relish. Being no fan of cauliflower, it was blended so well into the fennel puree (a favorite) that it was delightful. Both the scallops and the shrimp were perfectly cooked—a note, the shrimp were 13-15 to the pound if not the next size up. A light but satisfying entrée.
The birthday celebration for my bride brought a complimentary vanilla gelato while I debated between the pumpkin bread pudding and the LEMON MERINGUE TART with Gingersnap Cookie Crust and Raspberry Sauce. I went with the tart, which our server said was their most popular desert, and accompanied it with a straight up shot from the after-dinner list.
We departed delighted with our meal, the service and ready for our next special occasion visit.
By Tim Hunt