After catering to the refined tastes of Clapham for the past 12 years, we decided that Esca restaurant was due for a revamp. The new restaurant now serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch with amazing wines and cocktails and a menu based on a plethora of tastes and styles of cooking. The main thrust here is the theatre of the open flame; the simplest and most ancient way of cooking; influenced by good seasonal produce based on the history of Celtic, Latin and British cooking.
Owner Sami Wasif has relaunched the Esca restaurant with a completely new emphasis. Over the last 20 years he’s been involved in a number of successful London restaurants, among them Eco, Franco Manca and Hakkasan amongst others but Esca is his favourite and most personal project to date.
The word ‘Esca’ is very old. Scholars argue whether its roots are Latin but also Celtic, British or Gaelic. It’s meanings are various: ‘fodder’, ‘lure’, ‘bait’, ‘decoy’ and ‘tinder’, but the word was most commonly used mean ‘river’. Artist Paul Davis has used these ideas as the starting point for a unique mural commissioned for the restaurant.
The word 'Esca' is very old. Scholars argue whether its roots are Latin but also Celtic, British or Gaelic. It's meanings are various: 'fodder', 'lure', 'bait', 'decoy' and 'tinder', but the word was most commonly used mean 'river'.
Artist Paul Davis has used these ideas as the starting point for a unique mural commissioned for the restaurant and in collaboration with creative director Stephen Coates he developed a related artwork for the signage, menus and website.
Despite the large wall space that Davis was given as a canvas he decided to create something that wouldn't dominate the new environment. He wanted to enhance, not disturb the convivial experience of eating great food and drinking good wine in an alluring space. The idea of a riverlike shape snaking its way along the 19-metre length of the restaurant was suggested. It would be carved into the existing plasterwork to reveal the base brickwork. After much chopping and chiselling [and discussions with the owner Sami Wasif], the result is dramatic and apt.
Related imagery surrounds this central carved motif. These are drawn directly onto the surface with pen, brush and spray paint and include early grills and cooking utensils, diagrams showing the science of water-flow and fire, how things combust, equations explaining the often overlooked, the technology of the canal, water-system symbolism, and strangely named fish hooks. Davis has also annotated certain areas of the wall with invented names of river domains using the old English waterbased suffixes like bourne, shore, strand, pond and stream. Aerosol blobs were later added to lead the eye across the artwork, perhaps directing them to discover discreet and often witty details.
For Coates, the river theme suggested a graphic solution based on an unbroken flowing line used singularly or in multiples - where possible these lines were to appear continuous, looping and meandering across and around the awning and fascia, the menus and the website.
In the interior, there are two other artistic interventions. Towards the back of the restaurant, filling the wall space above the leather banquettes, are a set of specially-commissioned large prints also based on science and geography. Their layered surfaces depict now extinct dry riverbeds from our moon, Mars and the moons of Saturn. They are again made by Davis but utilise a more graphic aesthetic - though they are visually linked by the use of the same aerosolapplied coloured blobs. A further set of individual prints line the stairwell and continue this theme where old cookery engravings juxtapose scientific diagrams and images of planetary canals. Amongst these the large print called 'Planets of UnFailure', is Davis's beautiful and witty commentary on the state of the world.
©2016 Paul Davis
Monday to Sunday 9am to 11pm
Breakfast daily 9am to12pm
Brunch Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 3pm
followed by late night opening.
The Great Table can take up to 18 people
and will need to be reserved by telephone
on 020 7622 2288
Our candlelit Great Table is available for groups of up to 18 people. For smaller groups we also have two cosy booths with sumptuous leather-clad banquettes for parties of between 8 and 10.
Please call to check availability