By definition, Esoteric means something intended for or understood by a small number of people. Before having dinner at the Virginia Beach based restaurant, I read an online review where someone was turned off by them based solely on their use of this word. While this may have been intentional on the businesses part, it didn't bother me because a quick skim of their menu didn't require the use of too much brain power. I had been reluctant to visit due to their attraction to the hipster crowd. I saw that to downgrade them, but so often restaurants with that following serve food that is only aesthetically pleasing (i.e. no real flavor).
What I am attracted to is their farm to fork business model. People say it, but not many are actually doing it. Esoteric has convinced through their use of the names of the farm where the meats and greens are being sourced from on the menu. I stopped in for a 3 course meal during Restaurant week, and lucky for you (if you like what you see), most of my choices come from their regular menu.
For my 1st course I had Cauliflower Soup with Arugula and Olive Oil. I was delighted by the creaminess and understand why people substitute cauliflower for potatoes and rice (all the flavor without all the calories). Although I saw that arugula was in the soup I was expecting it to be blended in, so it came as a surprise that it wasn't. The greens were fresh, crisp and likely grown in the garden right behind their building.
For my 2nd course I had the Grilled Pork Chop with Sweet Potatoes, Bourbon and Bacon Braised Brussels (don't read that thinking you're getting bacon like I did), Fried Pickled Onions, and a Smoked Honey Gastrique. The Pork chop, from Seven Springs Farm was divine. The meat was moist and cut like butter, and the honey gastrigue gave it a subtle sweetness. I was hoping for a larger portion of sweet potatoes and the cut was thinner than I liked, but they were cooked tender enough with being mushy. The Brussels sprouts, which were shredded and not the mini cabbages that I'm accustomed to had a crispy texture, but the fried pickled onions seemed non existent and got lost in all of the sauces and other vegetables.
For my 3rd course I had the Cinnamon sugar donut with cinnamon sugar Ice Cream. If you want to compare it to a chain donut shop, it was better than Krispy Kreme and a close cousin to Duck Donuts. Not too light that I felt like I was eating air, and dense enough to withstand the ice cream. I only received one (on my Monday visit) but I noticed on social media that later in the week they were giving out 2. I was pleased with my portion but I wish they has been consistent.
This meal would normally cost around $42 pre-tax, so for $30 not only did I get a good deal, I also got a "good for the instagram" and appealing to the stomach meal that both hipsters, cultured eaters, and foodies of all ages would appreciate.