This week the crew behind Stanton Social and Tao opened the gigantic, opulent, bi-level bar-restaurant-lounge Beauty & Essex on, well, Essex Street. They serve food, they serve cocktails, they have a wall covered in horse hair, a ceiling covered by a pearl chandelier, two floors of dancing and DJs, a bartender pouring champagne in the ladies' room, and in the front, a pawn shop. To paraphrase Marge Simpson, "Now we've seen everything!" It's all housed within the century old M. Katz & Sons furniture store, which the award-winning design firm AvroKo transformed into something rather extraordinary. Or as mavericky chef Eddie Huang puts it, "This joint is made for ballin, but it's not stuffy and OD. You can wild, you can bring exotic birds, and you don't have to leave the neighborhood. Bawse."
Beyond the pawn shop (which displays old jewelry, a saxophone, and boom-box), a spectacular staircase leads up to the second floor, winding around a massive two-story crystal chandelier dangling from the ceiling without a care in the world. There are dining rooms and bars on both floors, and in the main dining room a 20' foot oval skylight "undulates like a soft wave." Beyond this room, there's a private dining room called "The Vault," with security cameras pointing at prized jewelry like someone's plotting a Great Muppet Caper. The walls in another room are lined with 1,000 carved wood panels inspired by a vintage jewelry box design.
In short, this place is kind of crazy, and maybe in a good way, if you've got a little money to spend? Or crazy in a bad way if Judgment Day comes and your body is preserved in Beauty & Essex through the long nuclear winter like a Pompeii corpse clutching a bottle of Cristal? There are worse fates. Really, the main question here is sort of rhetorical: How fast will B&E go all B&T?
But maybe we won't get what we deserve and we can all have some innocent fun here, dancing and dining on chef Chris Santos's "multi-ethnic" share plates. Options include Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Dumplings; Crispy Bahn-Mi Spring Rolls with Char-Sui Pork and Sriracha Aioli; "Jewels on Toast"—a nightly selection of crostinis with toppings like Roasted Bone Marrow with Rioja Braised Shallots. There is also an "unorthodox" Raw Bar with selections such as Tomato Tartare with a Sunny Side Up Quail Egg and Grana Crostini.
146 Essex Street, between Stanton and Rivington // (212) 614-0146