The Essex

4.5
174 reviews
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$31 to $50
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American
Wrapped around our fully open kitchens, The Essex is a world of action. Focused on our locally sourced products from the New England Family Farms, Fishermen, and our partner farm in Old Lyme, we provide an energetic environment with an upscale casual a la carte style cuisine that plays with the flavor profiles and techniques from around the world while staying rooted in classic concepts. Eat, drink and be merry!
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
American, Gastro Pub, Contemporary American
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Hours of operation
Dinner
Wed–Sat 5:00 pm–10:00 pm
sunday supper
Sun 4:00 pm–8:00 pm
Happy Hour
Wed–Sat 4:30 pm–6:00 pm
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Phone number
(860) 237-4189
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Colt Taylor
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Essex Steam Train
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Parking details
Parking in Rear
Additional
Banquet, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cafe, Chef's Table, Cocktails, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Entertainment, Fireplace, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Late Night, Non-Smoking, Private Room, View, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Specials

New Year's Eve Special Menus & Offers

7 course Omakase featuring caviar, foie gras, wagyu beef and a champagne toast! Free admission to After Party at Los Charros!

Monday, December 31, 2018

What 174 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.5
service
4.5
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
89% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
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1
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F
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The Essex has never disappointed. Their inventive menu, coupled with a thought out wine list, makes for a memorable event. Go with confidence!

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s
New England
2 reviews
Dined on November 3, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

We dine frequently around SE Ct, and for some reason hadn't been to Essex before. We also travel extensively in Europe and elsewhere. Our meal far surpassed that of any restaurant we have visited anywhere in CT, and, really, anywhere in the world! The 3 course price fix was very fairly priced, particularly considering that we received some 5-7 small, surprise items between each course with a wide range of imaginative flavors. My Halibut was cooked what was called in the style of Japan, steamed. Very fresh, moist and tender. The wines were also fairly priced. A good selection by the glass. The atmosphere was terrific too. All tables surrounding a fireplace in the center of the dining room. I marked down one star for ambience only because several of the tables involved couches that were not comfortable. (They graciously found a table with chairs for us). The servers were terrific. I dropped a star for service only because they were so busy with delivering the added items between courses that everything felt a little rushed, and they didn't have time to really talk with you. Perhaps adding a server would help.

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PC
New York Area
8 reviews
Dined on November 3, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Excellent place for dinner with unusual and somewhat limited menu selection owing to emphasis on local and sustainable. Comfortable, uncrowded and unrushed. Great place for a night out. Prices a little higher than other restaurants in area but you get what you pay for.

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l
New York Area
27 reviews
Dined on October 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

well done! we are thrilled with all the changes with the restaurant. Peter our waiter is the best!

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JR
New England
2 reviews
Dined on October 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 5

Wonderful dining experience. Very creative cuisine.

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OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on October 21, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Amazing food with plenty of small plate surprises. The quality and consistency that comes from this kitchen is amazing.

They hit every note and made the meal feel like an adventure. It’s a great reminder that food can be so much more.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on October 21, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Connecticut more inventive restaurants like this one in the state. Rarely do you find this level of attention to detail with the cuisine in addition to the service.

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AC
Philadelphia
1 review
Dined on October 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We were delighted to be seated right next to a burning fireplace, and the tables were spaced so that we didn't feel crowded. All 4 of us ordered the 3-course tasting dinner for $55 per person. There were, in fact, several mini courses added to the 3 courses, each and every one mouth wateringly delicious and inventive. The food was scrumptious and beautifully presented. Service was fabulous, and though we sat for 3 1/2 hours catching up with old friends, we never felt rushed. The owner came out to chat about the menu and check up on how we were doing a couple of times, which was great. All in all, we loved it. A bit expensive for every day, but worth every penny!

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OT
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on October 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Just a charming, pleasant experience all around. The food was better than you'd expect to find in rural Connecticut but a welcome surprise. My girlfriend and I visited with another couple we're friends with and we all had a wonderful time. The service was attentive, professional, and very friendly and the chef came out to visit us on numerous occasions.

The ambiance is laid back, semi-formal but comfortable, and kind of a modern rustic vibe. There's a fireplace in the middle of the room and a soft buzz from the bar in another area of the restaurant humming through the walls. It was quiet the weekday night we went in but it's a small dining room so I can imagine it fills up on busy nights and might not be as quiet then.

The food was great, I'd guess locally sourced but not 100% sure on that and even the dishes we didn't expect to love were fantastic.

It's priced to fine dining but that's apparent up front so you won't have any surprises going into it, it was well worth it in my opinion. Four of us had three course meals with drinks and spent around $300 including tip.

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H
New York Area
18 reviews
Dined on October 13, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 5ambience 4

Very disappointing: this was another Emperor's New Clothes. Very expensive meal for very little food, but worse than that, very non memorable. The sources are impeccable, but I guess when you order $40 Waygu beef you expect to get 1 1/2 ounces, maybe less, half of it tasty fat, and a short rib (one) that is no better than what I make. No sauces, almost no vegetables......I guess when the sources are so superb you only get a tiny bit. Fish was no better. But the service was exceptional and the wine and margaritas superb.

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KH
Dallas
1 review
Dined on October 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

This was our first time in Essex and I’m so glad we found The Essex! Everything about our experience was amazing. I would highly recommend the prix fixe option (we chose the three course) on the menu. We were pleasantly surprised by the many little “extras” in between the courses and came a way more than satisfied. It’s obvious that everything is locally sourced and extremely fresh. The chef owner definitely has a winner here!

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J
1 review
Dined on October 6, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

The Chef was fabulous and what he put together for us I can only rave about.

Absolute pleasure

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VP
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on October 6, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Service was impeccable, 7-course tasting menu was imaginative and increasingly delicious. Not only is their owner/chef brilliant, but their pastry chef is certainly at least on the same level. Great stuff.

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LH
1 review
Dined on October 5, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Words cannot describe. It wasn’t just a dinner but rather an entire culinary experience.

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MN
1 review
Dined on October 4, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The location was great for pre-concert dining! A short walk to the arena and menu selections were unique and delicious!

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KH
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We thoroughly enjoyed our experience at The Essex. From the moment we walked in to the time we left there was fabulous service and great food. The server was phenomenal. We tried a wine suggested by the head chef as he heard us discussing wine selection at our table. It was great and not the most expensive wine on the menu (which often happens at other restaurants). If you want to experience a wonderful dining experience, we highly recommend The Essex.

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CC
1 review
Dined on September 27, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Peter, our waiter, is very good at what he does. We’ve known him for years and has always given us good service. When ordering drinks he usually brings them right away. Some wait staff in other restaurants take 10-15 min to bring the drinks which is unexceptionable. Chef Cole really is a great cook as well. Keep up the good work.

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AW
New York Area
1 review
Dined on September 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a wonderful experience at The Essex. The food was creatively prepared, delicious and just the right amount. The ambiance was homey and yet elegant. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and provided excellent service. A delightful evening, and 5 minutes from the Ivoryton Playhouse!

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TM
New York Area
8 reviews
Dined on September 26, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was our first trip to The Essex and we had a great time. Great service, an imaginative menu, and the food was obviously produced from quality ingredients.

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RC
New England
2 reviews
Dined on September 22, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Dinner with family was a very nice night out. Theee of us had the swordfish dish which was excellent. I had the pork chop which I must say was the best one I ever had in my life. Perfectly cooked. The desserts were excellent as well. All plates were thoroughly enjoyed.

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m
1 review
Dined on September 21, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our server Peter was very knowledgeable and helpful; really helped guide us to what turned out to be a fantastic dinner. cocktails were fantastic. Entrees were cooked to perfection and arrived hot. The central location of the kitchen added to the entire dinner experience. Will definitely go back.

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TH
New York Area
7 reviews
Dined on September 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Tried this place for the first time on a Saturday evening. Never noticed it before. They may have put up a new sign or something. Regaurdless
We have it a shot. And it was fabulous. Service was way above the norm. Food selection was incredable.
The presentation and flovors were spectacular.
I can’t wait to go back.

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JK
New York Area
1 review
Dined on September 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Exceptional Restaurant! The food was delicious, the drinks were fantastic, and the service was wonderful. We will defiantly return.

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MV
1 review
Dined on September 14, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

As the executive chef of the Mystic Marriott I am always looking for modern ahead of the curve type food, this place has it. This is a place where chefs eat.

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k
New York Area
19 reviews
Dined on September 13, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 4

The Essex just misses the mark. It's good food that is poorly prepared, which is a shame- because it has such potential. To be fair, we were there for "taco night" - a preview of the new Los Charros. The gazpacho had so much vinegar in it it almost tasted like a vinaigrette, the guac had a weird flavor, and the chicken tacos were so hot (as in spicy) that my mouth burned and eyes watered. All that said, we'll try it again....because the margarita's were good and the place has a nice atmosphere.

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OT
1 review
Dined on September 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

From the original cocktails to the dessert, everything is unique and flavorful. Combinations that sound strange, turn out to be unexpected treats. Two of us had swordfish and two had the flounder. The spices and sauces were outstanding. Both were delicious! I would highly recommend The Essex, particularly for foodies who want to try something new.

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GP
New York Area
1 review
Dined on September 6, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

I had been once before and loved the food. This time I found the menu poorly written and the food bland.

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MB
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on September 6, 2018
Overall 1food 3service 1ambience 1

Service was awful. We were totally ignored unless we signaled our waiter. A drink was spilled due to a wet slippery glass and we were still billed for that drink plus a replacement. Salmon dish over cooked even tho asked for a specific temp. Over-priced chicken dish was dry and accompanying item mushy and over cooked. Mixed drinks barely half filled a glass. Many patrons asked to be moved from our overly chilled dining room. Terrible experience and will never return or recommend.

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NV
New York Area
9 reviews
Dined on September 2, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Staying in Old Saybrook for Labor Day weekend we made reservations at The Essex and I am
So glad I did! It was so incredible from beginning to end. The waiter, Eric was so wonderful. Everything we ordered was INCREDIBLE the chicken was so moist & the tilapia was outstanding. Than the deserts OMG we did the tasting and Meridith the pastry chef wowed my palate with incredible desserts. One after another! We are certainly going make the hour & a half trip back it’s worth it!

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RM
New York Area
1 review
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Food was excellent . The individual Pizzas
Were fantastic.

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OT
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Very delicious food and great drinks! What a gem of restaurant in Essex Ct

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CT
Tampa
8 reviews
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Awesome! The food is perfect in every way. The lobster and beets might be the best meal I've ever had! The clam chowder was fresh and delicious. The chocolate tasting was so good I would have ordered another one except I was full. 😀 I can't wait until we go again!

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NE
1 review
Dined on August 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We went for our anniversary and had an amazing time enjoying the omakase. Will definitely go back many times.

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N
New England
26 reviews
Dined on August 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

First time for us. Great, creative menu and locally-sources ingredients. Menu provides lots of detail on the growers and providers. Open kitchen is fun to watch. Server was knowledgeable and friendly. Black bass with mushrooms was flavorful. Ceviche starter with watermelon was outstanding. Lobster entree over beet pasta was generous in the lobster portion and homemade pasta was cooked well. We will return for sure! Chef came out to check on the meal and provide some insights which was nice.

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a
New York Area
6 reviews
Dined on August 29, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

This was our second visit to the Essex. The interior is really nice. The food is really good, fresh and locally sourced as much as possible which is a big plus. The fluke was amazing, salmon yummy, and the pork chop done just right. The pizza looked great. The wait staff is great. All of our food was delicious. The desserts were just ok on both nights. The house spun ice cream was very icy both nights and not creamy probably because it was not kept cold enough ( I used to work in an ice cream store and made all the ice cream). The chocolate on the ice cream tasted not homemade. The popcorn dessert was very sweet and hard to eat as the meringue was very hard. How about applying freshness of local produce to the desserts like local peaches, apples, plums and honey and cheeses. More gluten free options too like almond cake, cobblers...try with gluten free oats, brownies ... so easy to make with real chocolate, mousse etc. it is cool to see the kitchen in full view, super clean but the staff a little distracting. One staff member was eating out of a container with her hands.. did she wash them after? And drinking leftovers. Overall I would definitely return and highly suggest you give it a try.

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KL
New York Area
15 reviews
Dined on August 28, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 2

Over priced

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W
New York Area
31 reviews
Dined on August 26, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 4

Our group sampled six different menu items. A couple were good, four were pretty ordinary. The restaurant aspires to a higher level than it is attaining. The menu writer makes it all seem mouth watering. The reality is something else. There are a lot of four and five ratings on this website, which is what attracted us. Perhaps this was just a bad night for the chef. But, that's what it was.

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LM
New England
1 review
Dined on August 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Terrific single-floor layout with open kitchen, vibrant bar scene, market, and several smaller rooms comprising the dining areas (including a quiet nook that worked great for my elderly Mom who wears hearing aids). Attentive service, delicious & creative food with attention to detail, presentation, and sauces, using lots of local and seasonal ingredients. Great wine list and craft cocktails. Everything (including the soup crackers!) made in-house. Portion size just right for enjoying at the restaurant (wanting portions big enough for leftovers is a terrible American habit). Dessert was an incredible bread pudding with house-made ice cream, caramel sauce, and hazelnut butter.

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GG
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on August 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Go there you won't regret it!

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C
New York Area
7 reviews
Dined on August 22, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 5

The staff is very disorganized - especially about things like Happy Hour - I don’t know how long it has been opened - the Pizza was very good but drinks are expensive as is the limited Entrees - $95. For a steak ?

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