Beauty & Essex

I went to the most divine restaurant when I was in New York a few months ago, I feel almost ashamed that I haven’t written about it already. Alas, sometimes life gets in the way, so I’m bringing to you now. Sorry! (not that sorry).

I wanted somewhere special to go for our last night in New York, so I got a recommendations from a friend who has fantastic taste and is in the know. We end up at Beauty & Essex on the Lower East Side. It sounds like a line out of a Banksy documentary, but we really do ‘enter through the pawn shop’, complete with guitars on the wall, vintage jewellery and collectibles beneath glass and a skinny, grungy(ish), long haired shop assistant who really does look the part.

The restaurant is on an unassuming road, so for all intents and purposes it could have ended there. You might be forgiven for looking in the shop, and going on your merry way, or not finding it in the first place. But there is another door, and through that door we step; into the most beautifully opulent room, featuring chained chandeliers under an enormous glass skylight, through which you can see the trees.

The décor itself is lush. Enormous, romantic feather and flower arrangements towering above the comfy booths on each side of the room. The lighting is dimmed, the curtains are drawn, the upholstery is leather and the candles are lit. We are already eating with our eyes and the food hasn’t arrived yet.

And so we enthusiastically turn to the menu. The menu ethos is for sharing, so we order a number of different things from the ‘raw bar’, larger plates and a few hot dishes.

All piscaterian we begin with the Spicy Salmon Tartare ($16) – orange & black tobiko, pickled daikon, radish, guacamole and the tuna poke wanton tacos ($18) micro cilantro, radish, wasabi kewpie from the raw bar. They are both crunchy (I love crunchy), with their own distinctive flavours; I especially enjoy the wasabi kewpie which has a great kick to it and a real complexity of flavours.

Next, the house salad – market greens, carrot-harissa vinaigrette, pickled carrots, crispy chickpeas, manchego cheese ($14), and the crispy eggplant pizetta – charred san marzano tomato sauce, whipped ricotta, chile oil ($17) which, rich and luxurious, works perfectly in tandem with the salad. Then the Spaghettini – zucchini, lemon, parsley pesto, parmigiano, sunny-side up egg ($22) with an ‘accessory’ of crispy panko vidalia onion rings with miso honey mustard and sambal ketchup ($12). Was divine. I would have liked to try some of the meat options, but that will have to keep for next time.

Thoroughly stuffed and sated, we exit from the luxury into the pawn shop, and just like that, like passing through an alternate universe, into the crisp New York air; It already feels like a very delicious dream.

Beauty & Essex – 146 Essex St, New York, NY 10002, USA

You can check out their website HERE

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