I have been a waitress, bartender, pastry chef, as well as an executive chef; and I can say with certainty that my meal at Beauty & Essex fell short on many levels.
Upon entering under the brightly lit sign, you are first ushered through a pawn shop, then behind a closed door is the actual restaurant.This lends a certain charm to the atmosphere and gives one the feeling of entering a 1920s speakeasy. I’m sorry to say, however, that this is where the charm ends.
Having a reservation and waiting for my other guest, I was not invited to sit at the bar or relax at my table (even though the restaurant had plenty of empty ones). So I, as well as other guests, was forced to stand awkwardly around the hostess. It may seem like a small detail, but this truly set the tone for the night.
Once seated, it was evident that the waitress had limited knowledge of the menu. The meal started with tapas including tuna poke wonton tacos from the raw bar and crab rangoon. Both delicious and beautifully crafted, but the entrée portions seemed to be completely out of sync with the tapas ‘theme’ the waitress had promised. The burger was massive and served with a heaping portion of barbecue fries (it’s important to note that this was mouthwatering at first glance and did not disappoint). The burger was served with a delicious garlic aioli and feta goat cheese. The herb ricotta ravioli was MUCH smaller in comparison and in my opinion should not have been listed as an entrée portion next to such a monument of beef.
As a prior pastry chef I find myself overly critical of desserts more than anything. There in mind, this mistake takes the cake. To finish the meal, the waitress suggested the chocolate semifreddo, which was served tapas style as three small cylinders on a long plate. When cutting into the chocolate shell with my fork, I found no resistance from the semi frozen dessert, because it was room temperature mousse. The mousse was nicely balanced with salt and a simple shortbread crust underneath, but it should have been sold as a decadent chocolate mousse, not the delicious frozen treat that the restaurant failed to deliver.
Overall I would say that this restaurant has been way too hyped up and details like these build on top of one another to create a displeasing meal. If you want to experience a change of pace with Beauty & Essex’s interesting real estate then by all means make a reservation, however I will not be returning.