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The Early Word on Resto/Club/Pawn Shop Beauty & Essex

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Krieger, 12/7/10

Last week, the folks who brought you Stanton Social and Lavo opened up their latest money minter, Beauty & Essex on the Lower East Side. This monster of a club/lounge/restaurant/pawn shop boasts multiple dining rooms on multiple floors serving food from Chris Santos, as well as a couple of bars and lounge areas and a gimmicky functioning pawn shop out front. It hasn't even been officially open for a week but the club kids (and others!) are already weighing in with their opinions. To the early word:

The "Trendy, Sophisticated, Sleek" News: Food Comas visits and is happy about everything here - the design, the decor, the drinks, the food - everything. "The ambiance is everything one would expect from such a ingenious combination: trendy, sophisticated, sleek and A-list worthy. Among the many trendy restaurants in NYC, it is very rare to find one of equal quality in decor and cuisine." There's even free champagne in the restrooms! "Yes, the rumors are true: there is free champagne in the ladies’ lounge. In fact, there is even a bartender serving up free glasses of bubbly from behind a mini champagne bar across from vanity mirrors stocked with vintage perfume bottles." And the food? "I was blown away by the quality of the food. The menu takes inspiration from many global cuisines, and the results were simply superb without being too over-the-top as some dishes at The Stanton Social are." Of particular note is the chestnut & ricotta ravioli where she makes a bold proclamation. "This was just as good as Babbo’s pumpkin sage lune pasta!" She'll be back, if not for more of the food then at least for free bubbly in the ladies' room. "The menu is a bit more refined and elegant, and it works quite well here. I can’t wait to come again and try more dishes! (And hang out in the ladies’ lounge again?)" [Food Comas]

The "Made for Ballin'" News: The always entertaining Eddie Huang visits and writes about it on his Fresh Off the Boat blog. "We went to Beauty & Essex tonight and it's pretty much the shit. I'ma be there a lot in 2011. Yall know I'm not into dressed up... I'm more a draped up, dripped out dude, but B&E strikes a balance between being edgy enough for The People Under The Delancey and nice enough for your friends from Great Neck who you imported from Soho Grand. And of course, the food is on point. White boy came hard with the General Tso's Monk Fish. Since I lost my wok at Xiao Ye, I'll be getting my fix here...This joint is made for ballin, but it's not stuffy and OD. You can wild, you can bring exotic birds, and you don't have to leave the neighborhood. Bawse." [Fresh Off the Boat]

The "Changing the Face of LES" News: It's changing the face of the LES because it's going to bring in more Bridge & Tunnel crowds and MePa douches? Nope! Yelper susan s. thinks "Beauty & Essex is going to change the face of LES from hipsterville, to classy and luxurious type of crowds." Oh really? Please continue: "The partnership of Beauty & Essex really put some thought into every little detail including pearl chandeliers, fur lined walls, winding staircases, jewelry designed cubby holes, and VIP vault-style dining rooms." Bold predictions aside, there's the matter of the food and it's almost a home run. "For food, I tried the avocado toast, which were a little too small to enjoy, and Chicken Fried Oysters, which I'm still dreaming about swimming in. The flavors in the Oysters were delicious. Every bite was savory and made my mouth water for more! For entrees, we tried the burger with duck fat fries, pan seared salmon with polenta. I enjoyed the burger a lot more than the salmon. Salmon was lacking flavor." [Yelp]

The Pessimistic News: Most Eater commenters, not so shockingly, are quick to diss the menu and the space. Says one, "The menu is ridiculous and most likely creates more wasted food than consumed food on a daily basis. Congrats to the owners and chef, you have built a Mecca for for the mindless diner complete with an ironic pawn shop, how clever you are! Lame." And another: "The cops should raid this tasteless douche magnet instead of my old haunt, Motor City." [Eater Comments]

More Good News: Menupages is on board as well: "It’s great new all in one spot with excellent food, multiple floors, with bars and plenty lounging areas, great music and excellent service. And an attention-grabbing pawn shop right when you walking. It's a must go to spot." [Menupages]

The Twitterific News: @djdieselboy tweets, "omg. straight murdering warm apple pie / cheddar ice cream / cheddar crumble dessert at beauty + essex. unreal!" @eczarny tweets a simple note of praise. "Just had an amazing meal at Beauty & Essex." @emilyjanebanks tweets and posts a picture of her dessert. "Box of Doughnuts at Beauty & Essex... delicious" @eliaenne has some plans for this place. "Uh oh.. found a spot for my birthdayyyyy :)" @whatJTsees does not sound like a fan. "Some asshole thought the LES needed to be more like the MPD, so they made Beauty & Essex. And then it was Jersey." @andywangny doesn't think any place can measure up now that he's been here. "Beauty & Essex design is wild and place really goes on and on and on. Anywhere I end up next is going to feel like a shoebox" [Twitter]
—Gary Wong

Beauty & Essex

146 Essex Street, New York, NY

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