When you first walk into Beauty & Essex at 146 Essex Street in the Lower East Side, the common reaction might be, “why am I in a pawn shop?” You will most likely clutch your pearls thinking that at any time your life of glam will be pawn away at a moment’s notice. However, as you move on to the next room, all your worries vanish once you take in the sight of the rest-lounge speakeasy with a lavish interior, paired with equally luxurious-looking food.
At Beauty & Essex, the “Beauty” peels off from the restaurant’s name and onto everything you see and eat. This sense of beauty is pronounced by the couture-wearing crowd, splurging with delight through a night of glam. The restaurant, with its gawk-inducing allure, houses four distinct dining rooms (one private), two bars, and a lounge.
The Beauty & Essex dining experience was started by Chef Chris Santos, who opened the restaurant on December 11, 2010. With more than 20 years of experience in the culinary world, he oversees the menu development and kitchen operations. In 2007, Chef Santos was named Star Chefs Rising Star and is also famous for being the resident judge on the Food Network’s series, Chopped. This fall, he will share his new gluten-free and vegan menus with a reimagined cocktail list at Beauty & Essex.
Traditionally, Beauty & Essex is known for their Tuna Poke Wonton Tacos, Spaghetinni, full raw bar, and Lobster Mac and Cheese. Now, you can satisfy your desires with some of their new dishes. For starters, their signature dish is Roasted Beet and Cucumber (chickpea hummus, braised fennel, and toasted hazelnut vinaigrette). As the main course, dive into the Lemon Pepper Ricotta (spring asparagus, morel mushrooms, and garlic chips). If you are going for a vegan dish, choose the Ginger Marinated Mushrooms with Thai red rice, lemongrass & coconut milk. If you desire a little spice, another vegan option is the Korean-influenced Vegan Char Sui Meatballs (Napa cabbage & scallion kimchi, and toasted sesame seeds). For dessert, the top choices are the Avocado Chocolate Mousse Parfait, and the Cherry Sorbet (coconut milk mousse, and champagne pour).
Beauty & Essex has four new cocktails to sample: Mai Tai café (manifest, Cazadores reposado tequila, coffee syrup, orgeat, and lemon), L.E.S. Crush (grey goose vodka, Aperol, red bull orange, lemon, and ginger), Jalisco Rosado (lemongrass infused Volcan Blanco tequila, Lillet Blanc, ginger, and grapefruit-lime soda), and Coco Cuatro (coconut oil infused Bacardi añejo cuatro rum, orgeat, lime, and salers aperitif). Before leaving this night of opulence, do not forget to powder your nose, and stumble to the women’s bathroom (another unique aspect of the location), complete with a salon decorated with antique perfume bottles, and a sofa fit for a queen.
Alongside its gorgeous interior, the continued evolution of the food and drinks atBeauty & Essex keep patrons loyal to this location. If you’re feeling adventurous, sample their gluten-free or vegan options and finish the delicious meal with one of their new cocktails. Whether it is your first time or one of many visits at Beauty & Essex, you will always leave with a smile on your face in satisfaction—and with a newfound sense of glamour. – GM
Partner & Executive Chef – The Stanton Social, Beauty & Essex (New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles), VANDAL. Photography by Quentin Bacon.
ABOUT CHEF CHRIS SANTOS
Chef Chris Santos has over twenty years of experience as an executive chef in New York City’s hottest restaurants. From the cult classic Wyanoka, which Sam Sifton described as “sexy…and outrageously flavorful,” to the famed Time Café and award-winning Latin restaurant, Suba, Santos’ distinctive career has been synonymous with unparalleled success. He is currently the managing partner of The Stanton Social and Beauty & Essex in the Lower East Side, where he oversees the menu development and culinary operations of both properties.
Throughout his career, Santos has appeared as a guest chef on NBC’s TODAY Show, CBS’s Early Show, The Martha Stewart Show, and The Rachael Ray Show. Most famously, he is a resident judge on the Food Network’s most popular hit series Chopped and recently became a City Harvest board member. Santos has served as a repeat Guest Chef at The White House and Camp David, and has been a brand ambassador for Jagermeister and Morningstar Farms, as well as a partner chef for the home meal delivery service Chef’d. In January 2016, Santos opened Vandal alongside TAO Group and Executive Chef Jonathan Kavourakis at 199 Bowery. A homage to street art and street fare from around the world, the 22,000 sq. ft. restaurant is his biggest and most ambitious to date. In April 2017, Santos debuted Beauty & Essex on the West Coast in Los Angeles followed by the brand expansion in Las Vegas in May 2016. Santos released his first cookbook, SHARE: Delicious and Surprising Recipes to Pass Around Your Table, in February 2017.