The success of the Lower East Side mega-club restaurant Beauty & Essex was bound to create some copycat establishments. Lord knows that there are plenty of drunk girls to cater to down there, and they all have one birthday (week!) every year. So it didn't surprise us to learn that a new, clubby restaurant opened in the old Mason Dixon space - although it did kind of surprise us that they didn't keep the mechanical bull.
This restaurant, Sons of Essex, is a damn near facsimile of Beauty & Essex, not necessarily in decor, but certainly in purpose. The idea here is exactly the same: Come looking good and looking to get wasted, and maybe have some food. Just like Beauty & Essex, there’s a fake out entrance before the entrance, this time a deli counter where you can even get a sandwich. And also just like Beauty & Essex, the food is just barely good enough to pass it off as a restaurant.
We will say that Sons of Essex has a more Infatuation Friendly vibe than some of the other popular night clubs with food, and that they cater a pretty sweet playlist of 90s hip hop to blast at your head while you eat. They also managed to get Padma (call me) in an otherwise terrible promotional video for the restaurant. The cocktails are all pretty damn good, especially the unique boozy tea concoctions that we were pounding. But this giant menu of upscale comfort food disappoints more than it impresses. We're not exactly sure why there needs to be a whole page of grilled cheese and mac and cheese daily specials, but there is. Instead, this place needs to cut down on the 75 different things it offers for dinner and instead do a few things really well. On second thought, I suppose it doesn't really matter much. You're too busy singing along to Tupac to care.
Food RundownTruffle Grilled Cheese
It's kind of a layup, as anything with truffles is inherently delicious, but we'll give this one credit for the effort. You won't be upset.Mac And Cheese Balls
These, on the other hand, were entirely forgettable. Actually, one of our friends said she'd had better at the state fair. Apparently we have friends who go to the state fair.Lump Crab and Artichoke Spread
This appetizer was such a snooze. We couldn't taste any lump crab or artichoke - only "spread". Don't order this.
Truffle Mushroom Pizza
See above for our thoughts on the truffle grilled cheese. Apply the same here.
Sons Of Essex House Salad
An iceberg wedge with some bacon and a heavy, Thousand Island-ish dressing. This won't blow you away, and it offers none of the nutritional benefits of salad - unless you are mayonnaise and bacon deficient.
This play on chicken and waffles (the hen is just smaller than a chicken) is by far the best thing we ate at Sons Of Essex. The bird is crispy and salty, and the waffle light and sweet. Get some.
Loisaida Skirt Steak
All you can taste on this steak is char. Maybe you like the taste of licking the inside of a Weber grill kettle, but we don't.
I'm not sure I've ever seen a veal chop this big. It's an imposing plate, and it's a boring entree. The veal is more tender than you might expect, but that's about the only plus.Essex Burger
We liked the caramelized onions on this gargantuan thing. They add some sweetness that will keep you eating, even though it's otherwise a pretty mediocre burger.Lobster Pot Pie
A nice idea, but the lobster gets lost amongst the mass of creamy filling.Fried Pickles
These are perfect. Get them.Chocolate Bacon Bark
This chocolate "bark" has tiny bits of the following in it: bacon, almonds, dried apricots, dried cranberries. It will confuse your mouth...because it's awesome.