Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beauty & Essex - NYC

The meal at Beauty & Essex, in lower Manhattan, was the best meal that I have experienced in recent memory. 

Beauty & Essex opened in December 2010.  It's absolutely beautiful, with a theme of a jewelry store, what with the Ruby Room, etc.  It's complete with a pawn shop that fronts the joint and belies the decadent interior that unfolds once you're through the back door.  

It's also owned by the brother of a consultant that I've been working with.  When he found out I was heading into NYC for a meeting, he said, "You should go to my brother's restaurant."  Honestly, I was thinking it might be the Papaya King.  Then he said, "He owns the Stanton Social."  Right.  I don't even live in the state, and I know the Stanton Social.  "But don't go there," he continues, "go to his new restaurant - Beauty & Essex."  And he got us a reservation.

I had a train to catch that night, so we headed to dinner at 6:15PM.  The place was completely empty.  Great, I thought, totally beautiful, totally dead.  Then again, I'm on Central PA time, where people eat early, and places close down early, if they're open at all...  

The menu is structured to be small plates that are to be shared.  Between me and my trusty culinary colleague, friend and sommelier Tamara, we thought, 4-5 dishes should do it.  Of course, the great thing about being only once removed from the owner, is that you're quite well taken care of.  Our 4-5 dishes turned into 7 + dessert...

Roasted Bone Marrow with a Rioja Shallot Marmalade.  We each took a half of a bone and began our scraping and assembling of quite a different type of toast.  Creamy, fatty, sweet, righteous.  

Lobster Bisque Soup Dumplings with a Thai influence, some of them burst in my mouth with flourish - a coconutty spicy soup bath for the mouth.  Takes Mm Mm Good to a whole new level.  My only complaint is that some of them didn't have all the goodness to burst.

We ordered the pizzetta in the foreground - Apples, Bacon, Truffle Honey, Maytag Bleu Cheese.  The crust was so thin, it was like a cracker.  Totally genious.  The other pizzetta?  Roasted tomato pizzetta - compliments of the kitchen.  Stick with the first one - it's totally unique and utterly mind-blowing.

Salt & Pepper Shrimp.  Perfectly grilled and wonderfully seasoned, it's the one dish I feel like I've had before.  At a Chinese restaurant.  And it was called Salt & Pepper Shrimp.  Now, the succulence was unrivaled, but if you have to make choices, this should be closer to the bottom of the list.

Chicken Fried Oyster on a bed of spinach sauteed in bacon fat - and the angels began singing...  How the oyster could still remain quite raw, yet hot, is an amazing feat.  Lovely.

So... this champagne bar is in the Ladies' Washroom.  I'm not kidding.  By this time, it was 8PM, and the place was PACKED.  I had to shimmy my way through the crowd, and as I was washing my hands, I heard a female voice from somewhere "Would you like a glass of Champagne?"  I was like, what?  Where is that voice coming from?  And behind the mirror, is this sexy red bar with a bartender dishin' it out.  Seriously?!?  Seriously.  Then you walk back through the bar with a full-on flute of champagne - the women nod their knowing nods, and the guys are like, "where is all this champagne coming from?!?!"

There was one more "compliments of the kitchen" - the Chicken Meatballs, which were delicious, but not my fave - didn't even get a picture taken of it, and frankly, by that time, I was so full I was bursting at the seams.  But then they said, "Please choose a dessert - compliments of the kitchen," and I suddenly had just a little more space left to fill.  We ordered the Butterscotch Pot de Creme.  Oh heavenly.  Besides the stellar presentation, the tastebuds have voted.  So good it shan't be missed.  Rich and creamy with just the right amount of sweetness you just can't help but keep eating it.  Full stomach and all.

Beauty & Essex

146 Essex St
Btwn Stanton & Rivington St
(212) 614-0146

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you liked Beauty and Essex, check this out! Such great finds, I don't know which restaurant to go to stomach was growling just reading it.