After a long night of kicking boys’ butts at ping-pong and pool at a local bar, my friends Sonya and Beth and I met up for brunch at Essex around 2 p.m. with my boyfriend Kamran in tow. Well, actually, Kamran and I showed up first and had to wait a few minutes, and I only mention that because two hostesses came by separately to ask us if we were waiting to be seated, which is very rare in this city where people pretend to not notice each other. One of them had wild curly blonde hair cut short and was wearing a vintage-looking pink lace dress (that Beth later informed us was actually from Forever 21), and the other had dyed-platinum unwashed hair and cute thick-framed glasses, so they had every right to act too cool for school, but they didn’t.
The decor was very black/white/red and hip, but the clientele was the same as every other brunch place in Manhattan–a bunch of twentysomething girls in jersey dresses giggling about godknowswhat. (So naturally, we fit right in.) I was amused that they offer a Sunday evening brunch until 8 p.m. after my assertion here that brunch in NYC can last strangely into the evening. Maybe that’s when all of the hip people come in. Or maybe all the hip people got lost, since the entrance to the restaurant is actually on Rivington Street instead of Essex.
Sonya had originally suggested the place solely because they include three drinks with your meal and sell you additional ones for only $3, adding that the menu looked “okay”, too. But the Essex brunch menu turned out to be so full of deliciousness that all four of us had the worst time deciding what to get. Challah french toast with bananas foster sauce? Manchego macaroni and cheese with chicken apple sausage? Chocolate-blueberry pancakes? With mimosas or screwdrivers or bloody marys?
In the end, I ordered The Southern, a biscuit with a sausage patty, scrambled eggs, and sausage gravy. The biscuit would have been too dry on its own, but with the gravy, it was amazing; I couldn’t stop sharing it with Kamran just so I could wait for him to make yummy sounds. Kamran ordered the lobster benedict, which was chopped a bit too small for his liking but still tasted delicious. Sonya ordered the salmon eggs benedict, which arrived with very rare salmon; as someone who doesn’t care for smoked salmon, it would’ve been a pleasant surprise for me, and Sonya eats all manner of salmon, godloveher. Beth ordered poached eggs with chicken apple sausage that she said were “decent”, but Beth is super-picky and can therefore be completely ignored.
The best part of the meal was something that we weren’t supposed to care about, though–the home fries. They were big, soft hunks of potato soaked in . . . I don’t know what. And Kamran, who has the most discerning palate of anyone I know, was just as befuddled. They were sort of orangey-red and spicy, and I could’ve eaten an entire plate of them. Kamran agreed that they were the best, but when I talked to Beth about them later, she said, “The potatoes were okay. I’ve had better.” I said, “Seriously?! Kamran and I loved those potatoes, though I have no idea what was in them,” and Beth said, “Yeah, they were dunked in so much stuff I had trouble finding the actual potato in all the onions and stuff. I like my potatoes a little more crispy and less mushy.” So I guess it all depends on how you take your potatoes, but once again, I vote that we ignore Beth.
The one thing we might have complained about was the drinks included in the meal. Our waitress brought them so quickly that the bartender might have had 50 of them pre-made and lined up on the bar, and going down, they tasted alcoholless. But then we stood up and tried to cross the street pretty unsuccessfully.
Needless to say, we’ll be back.
This is for you, Sonya and Beth, for always complaining that I post the worst pictures of you.