Loved the atmosphere and culture in Essex. It is very lively and happening, and is quite loud, so maybe not the best for an intimate, romantic setting. They have a lovely cocktail menu, and prices are on par with other Charlotte places.
I went for restaurant week. At most places, restaurant week isn’t a great judge of quality or character (in my opinion), because either the menu is limited, or places are cooking in advance. I didn’t feel that way about Essex. They had everything available on the menu and offered the option for TWO entrees. They did cut down on the appetizers and offered just a greek or kale salad for your starter. The menu is wide ranging, and delicious, with various seafood, meat and flatbread items. I went with a girlfriend and split things to try it all. We went with the short rib flatbread, the bang bang grouper, the shawarma pita, and the lamb sliders.
Of all, my favorite was the bang bang grouper. Our server told us it is one of their more popular menu items – it started as a special but has stayed on the menu due to popularity. It did not disappoint and had the perfect balance of sweet and spicy with fried batter. Yum!
Overall, service was good, considering it was restaurant week and very busy. I wish it were a little quieter inside. It was difficult to have a conversation at our table. There’s still much more I’d like to try on the menu if we ever return.