Here at The Worley Gig, we like to have nice things – because you only live once, as the kids are fond of saying. If you, too, enjoy the finer things in life, and are also a fan of the Boozy Brunch, let me tell you about what I believe to easily be the Best Brunch in Manhattan, and that is the newly re-launched Champagne Brunch at Beauty & Essex. A week has passed since our visit and we just cannot shut up about the delicious food and great service we experienced at this elegant and hip hot spot lighting up the Lower East side.
Beauty & Essex is a place to go when you want to feel like a Superstar. Separated from the street by a cool storefront Pawn Shop, the restaurant’s interior is simply stunning, with antique accents and amazing light fixtures including a dazzling crystal chandelier that extends from the ceiling all the way to the first floor.
Although a full (and very extensive) brunch menu is available, we chose to go with the Chef’s Choice Prix Fixe Menu; a 4 course meal which offers you a generous taste of eight different dishes as well as two glasses of Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne for the bargain price of just $45 per person. Let’s Eat!
(Note: Since dishes are served family style and portioned for the number of people in your party, keep in mind that the portions shown in these photos are meant to serve two people).
Your “Brunch Party” – which is what we are calling it – starts out with your friendly server asking if you have any dietary restrictions or requests, as Beauty & Essex will happily modify any dishes to accommodate vegetarian or gluten free diets, or any food allergies where possible. And then, the food just starts coming out to your table – and what a sumptuous feast it is!
The first course consists of Red Velvet Waffles with Cream Cheese Icing ($12 a la carte). These 4-inch diameter waffles arrived piping hot and freshly made from the waffle iron, crispy on the outside an tender/ fluffy on the inside. There is no need for butter or syrup as the cream cheese icing drizzle adds the perfect additional decadence.
Miniature Dark Chocolate Croissants ($9 a la carte) — flakey and buttery pastry stuffed with rich dark chocolate — are also part of your sweet first course.
Should you feel any pangs of guilt from your “Dessert for Breakfast” course, redemption in the form of a fresh chopped Kale & Apple Salad ($12 a la carte) arrives next as part of your second course. Dressed lightly in a tart Apple Cider Vinaigrette, tender Kale and Slivered Green Apple are tossed with Candied Pecans, Crispy Pancetta and Shaved Goat Cheese in this light and healthy dish. It is understood that kale is a food that often strikes fear in the heart of the foodie, but be assured that there is no trace of bitterness anywhere.
Because Soup and Salad go together, course two also includes Grilled Cheese, Smoked Bacon and Tomato Soup Dumplings ($16 a la carte). Despite being described as “Soup Dumplings,” what you are really getting are Gilled Cheese and Smoked Bacon Dumplings (think: Dim Sum) resting atop a puddle of roasted tomato soup. Semantics aside, this dish is delish!
Oh my, are you full already? Well, better make some room in your tummy, because it’s time for course three, and you won’t want to miss a bite of what Beauty & Essex has in store. Check out these Fried Chicken Biscuit Bites ($14 a la carte): a crispy fried morsel of chicken breast on a buttery homemade biscuit, topped with crunchy, tangy Red Cabbage Slaw. A ramekin of Tabasco Honey Butter is also present for spreading meltily (made up word) onto the hot biscuit. So simple, yet so sublime.
At this point in the meal, our server made the rounds, bestowing a gift to all diners of these colorful, flashy light-up disco rings! Par-tay Brunch in the house! The only thing more exciting than these rings was the fact that there was still more delicious food to eat! See for yourself!
Look! It’s Braised Short Rib Huevos Rancheros: a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg is layered on top of tender short rib and black bean puree on a crisp corn tortilla, resting in a tomato ranchero sauce, and topped with Mexican Cotija Cheese. Ole!
Course three is rounded out with a huge serving of savory Skillet Roasted Potatoes with roasted peppers and herbed sea salt seasoning. Don’t explode yet, because dessert is coming.
This gorgeous thing is called a Caramel Mousse Bombe, and it is just insane. Inside this spherical chocolate shell is a light and fluffy caramel mousse on a chewy caramel cookie base. It is hard not to completely devour the Bombe, even when you have just eaten all of the food on the planet.
As you can see by this visual culinary journey we have just taken together, the Beauty & Essex Chef’s Choice Prix Fixe Brunch is a lot of food for a ridiculously reasonable price. And even though the menu says it includes “Two Glasses” of champagne, our glasses were topped off regularly and I don’t think anyone was really keeping too close of an eye on it, if you get what I’m saying.
Beauty & Essex is located at 146 Essex Street (F train to Essex & Delancey), New York, NY 10002. Brunch is served on the second floor from 1 – 6 PM. Phone (212) 614-0146 for more information, visit Beauty and Essex for Menus and Visit Open Table to make a reservation at This link.