Restaurant Review: Essex

Filed under all of my friends are prettier than i am, living in new york is neat, restaurant ramblings

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.


  1. Sarah says:

    Hiya– I’ve been visiting your blog for a couple of weeks now thanks to an introduction by Mr. ThriftStoreUndies, himself. I’ve really enjoyed the articles and have been equally impressed by the photos–if not always flattering, definitely crisp…can you tell me what model of camera you use?

    • Hey, thanks for introducing yourself! (And thanks, Mr. UsedUnderpants!)

      It’s funny that you chose this entry to comment on, because I used a different camera than I usually do for these pictures and was pretty unhappy about how they turned out when I resized them. For these, I was using Kamran’s Canon PowerShot SD600, which is so slick-looking and nice to handle but just doesn’t output like my camera does.

      I bought my Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P150 on a whim for $179 just because it was small and had a 7.2 megapixel resolution. But when I brought it home and researched it, it turns out that it has a Zeiss lens, which a bunch of articles I read claimed was the best sort of lens. I have no idea why it’s supposed to be so good, but I’m always impressed with how clean my photos look. It has next to no manual settings, but it fits in my pocket and is great for my totally amateur use. I’d definitely recommend Sony and Zeiss, if you’re in the market for a camera.

      Sorry that was probably about 400 times more information than you wanted. If it’s any consolation, I added you to my Google Reader so I can keep up with you now.

  2. Sarah says:

    Hey, Thanks for the info, [with all the decadent extras]…I did honestly wonder if it was a different model for these shots {or that choice one of you with the ciggybutt}…being a fat girl myself, I should have been more forthcoming with the fact that it was the corn dog shot that cemented the NEED to speak with you on this topic…but my current yogic “situational ovo-lactic vegetarian tendencies” [as diagnosed by Dr. Leath] prevented such a confession…because let me tell you, detest Nathan’s but that pic was near conversion-inducing/worthy…! Will be on the look-out for Ziess bargains! Happy Snapping…p.s. if you subscribed, does that mean I have to transcribe more than occasional brain drivel? God help us both!

    • (I’m really anti-flash, so the cigarette one can be explained away by the fact that the picture was near-black and then got pretty wrecked by my complete lack of Photoshop skills. Don’t blame the camera.)

      I’m so pumped that the corn dog almost converted you! And now I can’t wait to post my pictures from the next weekend, when we went BACK to Coney Island and ate about a million more of them. If the good doctor is calling your eating habits only “tendencies”, then I’d say there’s plenty of room for a one-time corndog pigout feast in NYC.

      If your most recent entry is any indication of what’s in your brain, then transcribe all you like. But it ain’t “drivel”.

  3. Mr. Used Underpants says:

    The link to the picture can be found HERE

    • I really enjoy that the picture in the link is so small that I can’t make out much more than the headline. I get that there’s another meaning, but I’m not going to acknowledge it.

  4. Tracey says:

    Home fries as something you’re not supposed to care about?! But… but! Breakfast potatoes are only the most important component of any brunch. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed them, but I imagine I would have agreed with Beth about the crispiness. (To which you will reply with something about how we can’t be friends anymore.)

    • I’m sorry, dear, but you and I get a bit more excited about potatoes than the rest of the world does. And that, despite your need for crispiness, is what keeps us together.

  5. Tracey says:

    We should move to Idaho.

    (Yes! Lamest comment possible!)

    • Hey, I’ve been there! There’s snow-covered mountains in one direction and sand dunes a mile in the other direction! And an entire hut that sells nothing but condoms! Awesome!