Modern, contemporary and complete with quirky free-flowing pink Champagne bar in the ladies’ room, accompanied by a charming pawnshop selling handpicked vintage jewellery, classic guitars and tributes to the spirit of the Lower East Side, this is Beauty & Essex Restaurant. The gem of the Lower East Side oozes early sixties glam, from the two-story chandelier and gorgeous central atrium to the peacock-themed grand dining room. The atmosphere is both grand and intimate, moody yet effervescent.
Given this, and the beautiful crowd the place attracts, it wouldn’t really matter too much if the food was average, but for the most part, it is outstanding!
Our wine choice for the evening was a bottle of Hall Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from the Napa Valley, a classic California Sauvignon Blanc. A bright and refreshing wine with light tangerine, lots of floral action as well as citrus fruit, mango and guava – actually a rather complex wine. The palate is medium bodied showing a touch of some spice, gorgeous and bright. I absolutely recommend! The label showcases this quote… “A toast from our family to yours! May your future be full of great promise and great wine and may much of that wine be Hall”.
The globetrotting menu features mostly small plates that emphasise upscale ingredients designed for sharing at the table among friends and family. Beauty & Essex is rooted in a bold bistro direction, focused on reinventing modern family style dining that is both whimsical and sophisticated.
We started the evening’s meal with an accustomed amuse bouche of Gazpacho. This chilled tomato soup showed off the vine-ripened goodness of tomatoes with just a dash of spiciness to the palate. Good start!
First choice on the menu was the “Sashimi of Tuna”. This dish was served tonnato style (a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce flavoured with tuna) drizzled with lemon zested olive oil and crunchy chorizo all wrapped up with a pinch of sea salt. A great dish! The crispy chorizo was deliciously crunchy with the lemon zested olive oil just cutting in there to leave behind an enchanting lingering delight on my taste buds.
The next dish we tried was the “The Stanton social’s chipotle grilled shrimp”. Once again, an amazing dish with great textures. The chipotle shrimp is a great fat big one with loads of smoked chilli flavour. The Shrimp was complimented with a delectable tomatillo and feta relish. For those non-foodies out there, tomatillos are also called "tomate verde" in Mexico (which actually just means green tomato) and are considered a staple in Mexican cooking .Tomatillo has a distinct lemon-herb grassy flavour when it is green in colour, but when allowed to ripen, it has a hint of pineapple overtones. Tomatillo can be eaten raw like a tomato, or cooked to reduce the raw tart flavour.
Last of the savoury dishes was one of my all-time favourites - the “Pan roasted scallops with smoked tomato and sweet corn risotto”. These were well sized, tender as can be, sweet - yet a little buttery and my-oh-my, so delicious. Scallops remain, hands down, still one of my favourite things to eat with their tender, slightly sweet flesh.Our third sharing dish for the evening was the “Asian spice rubbed pork ribs”. This was served with a five-spice salt, bok choy and spicy roasted peanuts. The origins of five-spice salt are lost to history. It's thought that ancient Chinese were attempting to produce a "wonder powder" that encompasses all five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and a fifth taste that is alternately known as hot, pungent or spicy. The pork ribs were cooked to perfection - sticky, tasty and just finger licking good. The bok choy and spicy roasted peanuts flattered the dish and all-in-all a great all-rounder.
Dessert was a difficult choice with such amazing offerings, but we opted for the “Black bottomed butterscotch pot de crème (coconut chantilla)”. The coconut chantilla was prepared and showcased in the form of two intertwining spoons. Think of sunshine in your mouth, a golden delight, rich, sweet, buttery, a seriously good butterscotch with creamy dark chocolate at the bottom.
Playing a great mix of 70’s and 80’s music, Beauty & Essex Restaurant also offers a great atmosphere accompanied with amazing food.