Thursday, August 11, 2011

No Peeing in the Champagne Room

Beauty and No Beast
I know I'm late to the table on this review (better late than never right?). I knew I would love Beauty & Essex the minute I read about it back in December 2010. Shortly after it opened, I paid a visit to the pawn shop/hip lounge/restaurant for drinks. Barely five feet into the place, and I was already mesmerized.

Fast forward eight months and still no second visit. I kept raving about the restaurant, the decor, the vibe, and most of all the free champagne in the lady's restroom (yes, ladies you read that correctly) but had yet to taste a single morsel of food.  I was seriously putting my street cred at risk every time I made the recommendation.  So when my boss invited me to dinner and asked me to pick the place, the next destination in my NY food exploration had to be Beauty & Essex.

The Trendiest Pawn Shop South of Houston St.
How NY Does Garage Sales

Music to My Ears
Once again, I was intrigued by Beauty & Essex the minute I set foot in the first half of the restaurant-the pawn shop.  The whole idea of having a pawn shop act as the entrance with a bustling restaurant tucked behind its doors is fascinating to me.  I also learned that the pawn shop is an actual functioning business and not just for show. Nice touch.

Opening the door, we were immediately greeted by the 1950's with sensual decor, delicate mood lighting, stunning chandeliers, and a grand staircase. The upstairs is just as lavish with walls covered in display frames with antique jewels-a girl's dream jewelry box so to speak. Our table was in the large seating area on the first floor featuring a round skylight to let light into the dark and majestic dining room.

My Camera Started to Get Drunk Eyes
We'll Take The Entire Right Left Side
Deciding on a drink proved harder than solving the national debt crisis.  Luckily I'm not too picky when it comes to interesting cocktails. With our waiters recommendation and the fact that it was 100 degrees outside, I opted for a refreshing Ruby Mojito. Then the decision making only became harder when we paged through the menu.  The menu, taking a cue from the decor, is broken into kitschy categories like Jewels on Toast (crostinis) and Accessories (sides).  The concept is small plates to share with nothing-not even the entrees-being excluded.

For our Jewels, we ordered the Whipped Ricotta with nectarines, honey, basil and chile.  We. were. whipped. Continuing with our summer theme, we ordered the Watermelon and Feta Salad and the Roasted Tomato Pizzetta. The watermelon salad was refreshing but the pizzetta was another head over heels moment.

As an accessory, we ordered the Skillet Roasted Corn. Being in fashion I naturally get excited when I see that word and was excited when the Mexican style corn reached our table of colorful bites. As if all of this wasn't enough, we desperately wanted to try the burger.  Each word in the description made my mouth water and when the waiter told us it was juicy, like butter, we were sold. Out came this burger with beefsteak tomato, goat feat cheese, and spicy roasted garlic aioli with an accessory of herb dusted fries. I wanted to kiss the waiter for giving us a spot on recommendation.

Antique Perfume Bottles Jazz Up the Ladies Lounge
Bubbly in the Bathroom
Thoroughly pleased with our grand finale, we ordered one last the women's restroom. One of the highlights, if not the cherry on top to this fine establishment, is serving champagne in the spacious, well decorated women's bathroom. It makes the restroom one of the best hangouts-and that's hard for a bathroom to do. So now I can stand behind my recommendation the next time someone asks me where to go out.  If it hadn't gone so well, I'd be toast.

Places of Interest:
Beauty & Essex, 146 Essex St., 212-614-0146

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