After our day at the mall, the BH, the Grad Student, the Makeup Artist and I were set to dine at Essanay Café, a fairly new eatery in historic Niles Canyon in Newark. The Makeup Artist had to bow out, after too much visiting with friends she was tired. But the three of us who were still standing made the reservation and ate at Essanay.
The Essanay Café from the outside looks much like it belongs in another time. Small and rustic, it is exactly the sort of establishment that belongs in Niles, with it’s original wooden structure intact, and it’s picture windows facing along a street that still looks as though horses should come marching down it pulling buggies. Quaint squared.
The food was really impressive. A nice combination of down home and upscale, without really hitting either too hard. They don’t serve hard liquor, so we all started with variations on a champagne cocktail, a nice fizzy opener to a hearty repast. After I downed my champers, I had a glass of Merlot that was delicious.
We began with two appetizers. The first was a fresh asparagus prepared with bacon and croutons. It was magnificent, the asparagus tender and the flavors delicate but hearty. A nice blend of butter, seasoning and the perfection that is bacon.
The other appi we tried was Essanay’s take on crab cakes. Not as perfect as the asparagus, as they were a bit on the salty side, but they were good nonetheless. The patties had a nice fluffy consistency, and the crab itself was sweet and tender. I think if I hadn’t just had the world’s best crab cakes at Sea Salt still ringing on my palate, I would have been more impressed with these. They were a solid effort and definitely worth eating.
My daughter and I couldn’t decide between the Squash risotto and the Steak with Blue Cheese, so she took the steak, I ordered the Squash risotto and we shared them. The risotto was creamy without being too wet, the rice fluffy. The dish had good texture and body, and it was absolutely mouth-watering.
Since it was a special night we ordered desserts. The two we chose to split were a chocolate cake recommended by our hostes, who said it was the owner’s mother’s recipe. The slice was really moist, and came accompanied by a lovely mint-chocolate-chip ice cream. Our second offering was a “s’mores” prepared as a creme brulee. It’s bottom layer was graham crackers, layered over that was a covering of marscarpone cheese, and cremy marshmallow, with the final layer being a healthy topping of melted chocolate.
It was a unique meal, prepared with love and so unlike the standard fare offered in most of the high-end chains that pass for restaurants here in the quiet little suburb I call home at nights.
If you are in the Fremont neighborhood, you really ought to come by and check it out. They have a gorgeous back bar where live music is featured often on weekends, and it’s very Disneyland and yes, also quaint. See for yourself, check it out. Bon appetit!
37533 Niles Boulevard
Fremont, CA 94536
Table size: adequate
Noise: One Bell (quiet and romantic)