Restaurant Guide

Essa: Restaurant review

An elegant take on progressive dining.


It's a different restaurant to the one originally envisaged, but Essa fits seamlessly into its swish just-off-James Street neighbourhood. Since its late-August launch, the moody, split-level space has been thronged; a mix of dark charcoal walls, exposed brick and striking green marble creating a bolthole for diners to happily disappear within. Phil Marchant's (ex-Gauge head chef) understated menu is created with an eye to sustainability and underpinned by meticulous technique. Grilled Brisbane Valley quail arrives plump and rested – its paper-thin skin is crisp, the bird's meatiness magnified by brown butter and offset by a garnish of tart pickled caper leaves. Airy chickpea beignets score a slick, bisque-like caramelised scallop sauce; while hand-rolled malloreddus shells come bathed in a 'nduja and carrot sauce that showcases the co-starring Fraser Island spanner crab. Service might suffer occasional teething problems but sommelier Phillip Poussart's (ex-Fico, Hobart) list delivers a lively mix of classic and more on-trend choices. Essa is an elegant take on progressive dining.


181 Robertson St, Fortitude Valley, Qld
(07) 3177 1011
Chefs Phil Marchant & Fin Burgess
Price guide $$
Bookings Essential
Wheelchair access Yes
This review was made independently for the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide. The guide's reviewers visit unannounced and pay their way.