Beauty & Essex – Essex Street
Beauty & Essex in the Lower East Side may not be the newest restaurant in town, but it is on my list of favorites in NYC. Mostly because they have free champagne in the bathroom.
What appears to be an old pawnshop on Essex Street actually leads you into a beautiful, dark and elegant dining room with oversized furniture. The cocktails are delicious and the menu – broken up into sections like ‘Accessories’ and ‘Jewels on Toast’ – was perfect for a girly, celebratory birthday meal.
The menu is largely made up of sharing plates and they will accommodate whatever size group you have. Most small plates are made for 4 people, but as we had six diners they added a few extra bites to each plate (this of course was not free of charge).
Tomato Tartare with a Sunny Side Up Quail Egg
Lobster and Asparagus Pizza
Grilled Cheese & Bacon Tomato Soup Dumplings
I also loved the lobster tacos, root beer & cookies dessert, and of course the free champagne in the bathroom.
Earl’s Beer and Cheese – Harlem
When Earl’s Beer and Cheese was named New York’s best cheap eat joint by New York Magazine, it instantly made its way to the top of my to do list. Although it’s further than one would usually travel for beer and cheese, it is worth it. They have a variety of beers on tap as well as cheap cans, and the chef comes from Momofuku, adding an unexpected Asian twist on some of the dishes with ingredients like kimchi and miso.
They have the most delicious beer cheese spread to start with, and our sandwiches – including the NY Cheddar, pork belly, kimchi and a fried egg – were insane. The best sandwich was definitely the Calabro mozzarella with miso mayo and dill pickles on an English Muffin. You can skip the goat cheese and rosemary mac ‘n cheese – it sounds better than it tastes.
And if you’re still not sold on Earl’s, let me just tell you about their bread pudding. Made with brioche, maple syrup, brown sugar and granny smith apples, and topped with maple cotton candy, it is reason enough to trek it up to Spanish Harlem any day of the week.
Main dishes range from $6-$11 and beers are about $5.
Paulie Gee’s Pizza - Greenpoint, Brooklyn
I love this pizza place so much. With toppings like fig, prosciutto and gorgonzola cheese or their famous ‘hot honey’ and salami, you can’t go wrong. The restaurant in Greenpoint is dark but lit with candles (better for fall/winter or a rainy Summer night) and the pizza oven was imported from Naples, Italy. Whether or not this pizza is “authentic” Italian, I don’t really care. It is incredible. And Paulie Gee, the cutest man ever, walks around to each and every table making sure his customers enjoyed the food. Pizzas are about $15.