I try not to break the bank when I travel, but I always make sure to give myself one free pass per trip. This means I get to splurge on something that I really want to experience. When I went to Europe, it was skydiving from a helicopter in Switzerland. When I went to New York last August, it was a feast at Beauty and Essex, a really cool speakeasy in the Lower East Side.
Back during Prohibition, speakeasies were establishments that illegally sold alcohol, usually in a secret bar that was hidden somewhere on the premises. Even though Prohibition has long been over (thank god!), there are plenty of modern-day speakeasies still rocking the NYC streets.
NJ and I had to do a double take when we first saw Beauty and Essex, since it didn’t look like a fine dining restaurant from the outside. Even when you enter the front door, all you see is a pawnshop with glass cases filled with vintage jewelry and other knick-knacks. We were told to go through the back door if we were after some grub.
Stepping through that door was very much like going through the wardrobe and landing in Narnia. Crystal chandeliers hung above round wooden tables with leather-backed seats. Giant peacock feathers sprouted out of golden vases. Beauty and Essex was dim, elegant and emanating cool from its pores.
And the food was amazing! We started with the melt in your mouth Roasted Bone Marrow with braised shallot marmalade and buttered bread. I couldn’t resist the Lobster Tacos, which was made with sweet beer battered Maine lobster and finished with a spicy poblano crema.
Did I mention that I had a cocktail, too? I sipped on the Beauty Elixir, a refreshing gin, cucumber and strawberry drink topped with sparkling rose.
For my main, I had the amazing Brick Pressed Chicken on a bed of creamy mascarpone polenta, while NJ got her NY Steak fix. Her dish came with four house sauces, including an amazing white truffle cream sauce. We also grabbed perfectly crisped fries because we obviously have eyes bigger than our stomachs lol
Since we were going all out, we grabbed dessert despite being super full. We shared sweet Mini Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts and an extremely decadent Molten Chocolate Bread Pudding.