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The Early Word on Matt Levine's Sons of Essex

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Sons of Essex, the newest restaurant from Matt Levine, has been open for over a month now. The deli in the front sells baked goods, coffee and teas, while the restaurant in the back is serving New American fare. Labeled as a club/restaurant (they even have a promo video), the aesthetics are clearly a major draw, but how do diners feel about the overall experience? On the early word to find out more.

The Fairly Good News: From Open Table: "Great for an out of the ordinary brunch in the neighborhood. Portions are a little light if you want your brunch to last through dinner but all the dishes were as described. [Open Table]

The Great News: Via Foursquare: "Get the truffle mac n cheese, sinfully good! Chocolate bacon bark is awesome! Great music and totally fun vibe!" [Foursquare]

The Excellent News: A very enthusiastic Yelper writes: "ALL my senses were piqued here on a packed Friday night. The eclectic (mostly throwback hip-hop) music pumped by a DJ blared but it didn't even matter. We didn't have reservations but the friendly hostesses found us a table and we only waited a half hour at the bar. I had the Grand Sachem and was totally overwhelmed--by far the most unique and best cocktail I'd had in a long while. After we were seated, we ordered a rack of apps, including the Lump Crab and Artichoke Dip, Chinese Five Spice Pork Belly Sliders and the Fried Guss' LES Pickles. When it was all over, we'd had several more cocktails, the Loisaida Skirt Steak, Mac n Cheese Balls and awesome service. I think we stayed longer than we expected because we were singing and dancing (in our seats) to the good azz cuts the DJ was spinning. I've got to go back and check out brunch. You HAVE to try Sons of Essex." [Yelp]

The Pretty Bad News: From an Eater commenter: :Sons of Essex= great design, cool look but TERRIBLE FOOD.#fail". [Eater Comments]

The Bad News: Another Yelper was not so impressed: "I went at 7:30 on a Saturday night with my boyfriend--it took 40 minutes just for the waiter to bring us our drinks. We ordered the truffle pizza, chicken & waffles, and brussel sprouts. The pizza was pretty good, but the chicken & waffles and brussel sprouts were sub-par. The service was not impressive and the food did not live up to the talk. The restaurant is decorated nicely, but the tables are too small for the plates." [Yelp]

More Bad News: The most important part of the restaurant didn't impress this Open Table reviewer: "Great example of style over substance. Restaurant looks good, employees look good but the food is another thing. Scallops were so over salted that they were inedible, everything else was forgettable. Maybe they will get it together. I hope so, I like the idea of incorporating the diverse influences of the neighborhood in one menu." [Open Table]

The Bad Hostess News: This patron didn't even stay to eat: "I walked in last night for a dinner reservation with my parents. When I told the hostess my party's name, she asked me in all seriousness, "Is that the older lady and older gentleman?" "They wouldn't appreciate being called 'old'" I responded and walked out. We dined somewhere else where my parents could actually feel comfortable with their age. Despite the pretentious bouncer and not-so-new attempt to make this the "hip" speak-easy, the place was less than half filled up with its prepubescent customers at 9pm on a Saturday night." [Yelp]

The Fantastic News: It's not all bad. The sole Menupages commenter adores the place: "Great establishment! Very impressed with the food, decor, and service. I ate here with a few friends and we tried just about everything. Some of my favorites were the Eggplant Parmesan Stuffed with Tomato, German Mac N Cheese, and Hen & Waffles. The hip hop music is an added bonus. Not too often can you go to a place and hear old school Dr. Dre and Snoop. I look forward to coming back." [Menupages]

The Really Unappealing News: A Foursquare diner is pretty grossed out: "The exterminators came right after we ordered. Walked str8 thru the restaurant non-discreetly, faces covered in masks and all. WTF. Leave now!" [Foursquare]

—Alexis deBoschnek
[Photo: Bowerie Boogie]

Sons of Essex

133 Essex St., New York, NY

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