It’s hard to write about Esca because Esca doesn’t seem real. The first time I ate there, it was for Chapter 8 of my book, the chapter where I met Ruth Reichl for lunch. I was so nervous that day, so focused on the person I was about to meet, that the restaurant didn’t feel like a real restaurant, it felt like a movie set, assembled for this scene in which I was about to participate.
Subsequently, I took Craig there for dinner after seeing a Broadway show. I tried to convince him it wouldn’t be expensive, that it wasn’t fancy, it was casual, that it was totally in our range. It was an absolute lie but we loved it and pretended that the check at the end was just a prop, much like the restaurant was just a movie set.
Now, if I say the word “Esca” after seeing a Broadway show it’s like saying a dirty word or casting a magic spell. A dirty word because spending that kind of money without occasion is obscene; a magic spell because once you say the word, it’s hard not to go there. I didn’t care, however, on a night two weeks ago after Craig and I saw the Broadway play, “Speed-The-Plow.” I uttered the word “Esca” and cosmic forces sent us hurtling down 9th Avenue to 42nd street, where Esca sat waiting for us, ready to indulge us once more.