28 Jun, 2016
In a scruffy street full of mismatched low-rise buildings and semi-industrial businesses, one premise stands out. “Beauty & Essex” is spelled out in illuminated globes of the make-up-mirror kind found in the dressing room’s of Hollywood stars. A faded glamour of yesteryear pasted over the more faded signage of the buildings’ previous origins, Katz’ Furnishers. The sign headlines a pawn shop of the more upscale variety selling classic guitars and vintage jewellery for the discerning treasure seeker. There is however a big secret through the back door of the shop. Big both in scale and surprise. Ten thousand square foot of bejewelled glamour lie behind the unpretentious frontage and humble entrance of Beauty & Essex. An oxymoron in design presents a lounge and restaurant of bewildering proportions and astonishing allure. It is as though one has tumbled into a cache of gems. Cascading chandeliers like waterfalls of diamonds, bevelled mirrors and plush fabrics create the oversized jewellery box sensation just as the creators intended.
The magnificent dining area is prefaced by a bar that demands both your attention and a cocktail while providing a welcome pause and vantage from which to absorb the eye candy. Uncovering such a jewel lends an ambiance of exclamatory excitement to the suitably stylish patrons. Buzzing pagers hail the punters to their tables while the back door of the pawn shop keeps opening a crack to usher in an evermore awestruck audience.
The menu playfully continues with the study in contrasts. So Thick Cut lamb Chops and Burgers sit alongside the more sophisticated options of Pan Seared Scallops with chickpea purée, housemade harissa and cauliflower gastrique or Braised Short Ribs with morel mushrooms and grilled asparagus. There are even some surprising juxtapositions on one plate such as the Heritage Baby Back Ribs with hushpuppies or my choice, the Lobster “Mac ’n Cheese”. A veritable treasure trove for the tastebuds.
The tiara in this collection of bijoux lies in the dessert menu. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse with Kahlua ice-cream attempts to out-sparkle the Black Bottomed Butterscotch Pot de Crème with coconut chantilly while a Box of Doughnuts beckons with the promise of chocolate hazelnut cream and raspberry jam.
Flip open the jewellery box here:
146 Essex Street
New York 100002
tel: (212) 614 0146
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