Published on August 17th, 2012 | by Greg0
Beauty and Essex: Through A Shop, A Wonderland Of Food And Drinks
Details are important. And with large-scale projects, whatever their nature, it’s all too easy to overlook some while focusing on the bigger picture. So: yes, there is a beautiful two-story chandelier, and there is a fun “hidden” entrance through a storefront that sells everything from jewelry to antique collectibles, plus a solid location in the Lower East Side (near the Essex stop, obviously). But it’s the details that make for a memorable experience, and Beauty and Essex for the most part nails the little things as well as the big ones.
Brought to life by the restauranteur behind Stanton Social, we were impressed with most every aspect of the B&E experience, from the fairly daring menu to the excellent drink selection, the staff that were friendly and knowledgeable to the presentation. The crowd is eclectic: we were seated between a quiet late-30s professional couple celebrating an anniversary, near a boisterous 20-something birthday party, and noticed plenty of other groups that bridged the “bridge and tunnel” and “Brooklyn hipster” crowds. The music selection was similarly unusual, and the space did get a bit loud at times- this isn’t the best spot for a quiet date, but does offer great people watching and occasional celebrity spotting opportunities.
Focus on the small plates- including a dish we would recommend to anyone, the roasted bone marrow ($17), which offered incredibly large bones, perfectly prepared marrow, lovely accompaniments. The yellowtail crudo was also excellent, though a bit more standard- fresh fine cilantro with decent avocado and a nice yuzu touch. The menu also includes items like Kobe beef carpaccio and whipped ricotta, plenty of interesting ingredients, prepared with a deft hand. Tempted by the “General Tso’s” monkfish, we instead opted for the charred shishito peppers ($10), which are an incredible value- the perfect appetizer for a group, a little spicy and with lime salt, spilling out of a sizable bowl.
Mains range from a burger to parsnip ravioli and baby back ribs, but we aimed at the crispy sweet & sour pork belly ($23), again with an impressive portion and great sweet/salty balance. Come with a hearty appetite, prepared to sample, and ready to drink as well- a so-so beer list was offset by an impressive selection of wines. Cocktails ($14), though, are where the real creativity lie, and though they don’t quite get up to Manhattan’s speakeasy levels, they still inspire. Try the Book Burner, an eye-opening pepper-infused rum drink with a bit of grapefruit and sour cherry jam, or the Blood Orange-Jalapeno Margarita, which wasn’t quite as balanced but was a nifty twist on the classic, or the Dark Chocolate Velvet, combining Guinness… and prosecco.
Reservations recommended, all major credit cards accepted, and open from 5PM to 1AM every day. Check out their brunch as well on the weekends! Beauty and Essex is located at 146 Essex Street in New York City, and rates a solid four stars for a menu that offers something for everyone, with plenty of intriguing takes on classic drinks and dishes, in a fairly luxurious environment that feels transplanted from somewhere a few decades ago (perhaps with a little Las Vegas in the mix).