Last night we had dinner and Beauty and Essex on Essex between Rivington and Stanton, not far from it’s sister restaurant Stanton Social. We were dining with a friend who has just moved to town from London, and she had been wanting to try it, so we made an early bird reservation (only times available were 5:45 and 6 p.m.). Even at this late-lunchtime hour the place was pretty busy when we arrived.
The space is gorgeous. It is sprawling, as only a Lower East Side place can sprawl. You enter through a quirky shop, which looks more like a room filled with memorabilia, through a second door which takes you into the bar area. The place has high ceilings, and is beautifully decorated. The tables are private and comfortable. If you wander down to the bathroom you will find a woman standing at a bar serving free champagne (now that’s a new one!).
The menu is vast and interesting, but the presentation serves to disappoint as nothing tastes quite as good as it looks. Their take on Stanton Social’s Onion Soup Dumplings (Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Dumplings) were overwhelmingly smoky. Everything was spiced way too much. Their Charred Shishito Peppers were covered with spices… peppers do not need spices (they are already hot enough). The entrees were just okay. Nothing was a standout.
The restaurant is fun. There is great decor, they offer interesting cocktails (though nobody thought they tasted any good), fun desserts such as donuts which arrived in a box, bursting with jelly and warm chocolate. The staff is friendly and professional. Beauty and Essex is a campy fun place to go with a group, and it’s a place that you may want to try once but don’t go if you are looking for a fabulous meal.
Here is Beauty and Essex’ motto:
“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the carats in a diamond.” (Mae West). This quote pretty much sums up the restaurant.
I’m glad we went. Now I know what I haven’t been missing.