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Exceptional Food, Lush Surroundings and a Splash of Elegance at Essensia Restaurant + Lounge

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

South Beach in Miami is known for its nightlife and high-profile party scene. That's where Essensia Restaurant + Lounge is different. Although located in the beautifully remodeled The Palms Hotel & Spa, this is one place in the trendy SoBe neighborhood where you are not meant to see or be seen.

Instead, explains Public Relations Representative Julia Cavalieri, "We are romantic, laid-back, al fresco, tropical. A place to enjoy healthy food, conscious wines and cocktails and an unpretentious attitude." Step inside and you'll instantly be transported out of the city and back to nature, but with a splash of elegance.

Surround yourself with lush vegetation, natural colors and romantic lighting on the covered terrace or sit indoors in their intimate dining room. Perhaps you may prefer the more casual ambience of the poolside terrace overlooking the hotel's tropical gardens. Whatever your choice, Essensia takes your mind, body and soul, into account with its inviting tropical décor, natural sophistication and, of course, its tasteful menu.

"Farm-to-table, natural gourmet, local, seasonal and sustainable," is how Cavalieri describes the food. Menu options include a healthful children's menu and low-calorie items, as well as gluten-free and vegetarian dishes. There is even a vegan banana cream pie on the brunch menu. "We focus on clean, locally grown and organic ingredients wherever possible," notes Cavalieri, and "we can cater to many dietary requirements." Best of all, the restaurant is open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a special brunch replacing lunch on Sunday.

Cavalieri says Essensia's most popular dishes are "our Signature Kale Caesar Salad; the Stone Fruit, Tomato and Burrata Salad; and the Peruvian Ceviche. A powerhouse salad, the Kale Caesar is made with locally grown kale, shaved parmesan cheese, toasted pepitas, housemade croutons and anchovy vinaigrette. As the menus are seasonal, there are always new items to taste.

A classy tiki lounge with its warm shades of burnt orange and dark aqua compliment the restaurant. Open from noon to midnight, come for the great happy hour food and drink specials from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and stay for dinner. Fresh fruit, herbs grown onsite in the chef's garden and artisan spirits make up Essensia's signature cocktails. But they also have a variety of craft, imported and domestic beers and wines that are sustainable, organic or biodynamic. Even drinking can be good for the environment and for you at Essensia.

Sourcing local products, Essensia also uses herbs and produce from its onsite organic chef's garden totaling 750 square feet of growing space. The chef personally tends the garden. Ask for a garden tour only given by appointment and see for yourself the exceptional quality of the food served.

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