Squiggly gold lamps unraveled in the kitchen window. A white marble bar with a honeycomb print was etched on its side. This place was chic.
Now that Esoteric had won me over in the aesthetics department, it was time to sink my teeth into their food.
My forever date and I arrived Saturday evening around 8 p.m.—the nice cushion of time right after the dinner rush and right before the late night crowd. Esoteric just opened its doors in the ViBe Creative District at the end of October. In fact, they share a wall with the new brunch spot, Commune.
Tables lined the front window and others were scattered in the space between the kitchen and bar area. We grabbed the last open table with our backs to the spunky wallpapered wall of climbing carets. Instead of a button-up and slacks, our waitress was dressed in the cutest black eyelet dress.
First things first, the drinks. After our waitress’ recommendation, I went for the Jalapeno Mule ($12.50) of vodka, lime, ginger beer and syrup, bitters and slices of jalapeno. This sipper packed a punch, yet remained refreshing without leaving too much of a sting. The husband went for his favorite beer of the moment, Founders’ Backwoods Bastard ($12).
As far as food goes, you can take the tapas approach or order an entree with all the fixings.
We chose the former and kicked off the evening with their Poutine ($12). It’s always neat to see different takes on a poutine. Esoteric’s hand-cut fries soaked up a creamy gravy. Slices of Edwards’ ham and chewy bites of chunky cheese perfection that were their cheese curds mixed throughout. Topped off by fresh, thinly sliced radishes, this poutine was pleasing to the eye and the palate.
Their Charred Octopus Special ($14) for the night hit home. Charred with chili and cocoa, the wonderfully crispy, smoky octopus rested among an orange ginger puree and fiery berbere aioli.
Two snacks later, it was time for round two of our drink orders. I went with the Bees Knees ($11) with gin, lemon, honey syrup and lavender bitters. Closely resembling an adult lemonade with a lavender hint, this was the bee’s knees. He ordered Dogfish Head’s Burton Baton ($11).
After snacking on their Pimento Cheese ($5) and housemade crackers, the husband and I had different ideas of what was coming next. “We’ll take the che—” “We’d like the Pots Du Creme, please!” I chimed in. My sweet tooth was strong, but that’s no surprise.
A ramekin of dense chili chocolate pudding ($9) was brought to the table. Spicy bits of caramelized ginger and pistachio were sprinkled over top. Akin to hot chocolate pudding with a kick, we couldn’t have ended the evening on a better note.
If you’re on a different train that doesn't include fries with cheese, a cheese board or other cheesy-focused goodness, they have creative soups and salads like their roasted cauliflower with golden raisins, greens and pine nuts in a brown butter vinaigrette. For the main courses, I’ve heard their Nashville Hot Chicken ($22) with house pickles, potato bread and a honey mustard potato salad is a winner.
From the stylish waitresses to the swanky cocktails, Esoteric isn’t messing around.