After some deliberation as to where we should dine this past Friday, also Christmas Eve, my friends and I decided to try the newly opened Beauty and Essex on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Brought to the neighborhood by the same people as Stanton Social, Beauty and Essex is the mecca of chic dining within an exquisite setting. The grandiose space is divided into four separate rooms, each of its own personality, and all concealed by a working pawnshop at the entrance to the restaurant.
And just when you think you’ve been awed to the max by the opulent decor of pearl chandeliers and peacock feathers, there is a bartender in the ladies bathroom serving rose champagne. Gals can sneak away to fix up their make up while enjoying a complimentary glass of bubbly and relaxing among several couches in the ladies room lounge. No detail is left untouched.
Past the list of house conceived cocktails, the menu is divided into four parts, beginning with a raw bar assortment, which includes anything uncooked from oysters to steak tartare, and ending with an array of red meat entrees. Similar to that of Stanton Social, the menu ranges from small plates to more substantial offerings, all of which are meant to be shared. We were three people, which seemed to be the perfect number considering most dishes came with either three or four servings.
Committing to layout of the menu, we began with three of their cocktails and a few selections from the raw bar portion. The drinks were flavorful and strong. For our small plates, we had a half dozen Hama Hama oysters, which were sweet, clean and plump in size, followed by the yellowtail crudo and the hand cut prime steak tartare served with crispy mustard and chive sticky rice cakes. The yellowtail was incredibly refreshing as was the steak tartare, which went beautifully well with the contrasting texture of the sticky rice cake. To continue we had the whipped ricotta with grilled pears, honey basil and chile from their “Jewels on Toast”. The Beauty and Essex version of crostini with various toppings.
With another order of cocktails on the way, we moved onto the more substantial plates. By recommendation of our server, we ordered the lobster soup dumplings, kale and apple salad, and lobster tacos from the warm small dishes and chicken meatballs as well as the grilled salmon from the larger portioned plates. Favoring more of the smaller dishes, which burst with flavor, the meatballs and salmon did not measure up to the rest of the menu and were a bit on the bland side. But all was forgiven when we went for the kill and ordered the black bottom butterscotch pot de crème for dessert. The jar of gooey rich butterscotch crème, accommodated by edible cookie like spoons, was the prefect conclusion to our dining fable.
Beauty and Essex combines elegance and delectable culinary creations all within a space that offers much more then just dining in style. With rooms of various offerings, it’s an entrapment of pleasure and entertainment and many reasons to come back for more.
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