Essex Restaurant – One of Life’s Little Surprises

There are always surprises in life. The math geek who wins homecoming prince. The airplane flight that takes off AND lands on time. The Jewish girl who doesn’t like pork.
Clearly, that girl is not me.
But this restaurant is the exception to my rule. Essex has a $20 brunch menu where you get a main course plus 3 bloody marys, screwdrivers or mimosas. In NYC, that is a pretty great deal. So, you would expect 2 things. Namely, 
1)The place would be PACKED every weekend
2)That the food would stink, since for that low of a price, they could get away with it.

Clearly, you would be right about the first thing.

And if you guessed I would be starting the afternoon off with a dirty Ketel 1 martini, you would also be right. $10 gets you a very well made martini, and while the drinks are included and the bloody marys are very good (just enough heat and loads of black pepper), they also have a LOT of sodium. As it is, I tend to be a rather thirsty lady, so rather than indulging in 3 bloody marys, I preferred to pony up the extra cash and just have one bloody mary and a couple of diet cokes. 
Yes, I had a martini and a bloody mary. Don’t judge

My favorite brunch item is the LEO – house smoked gravlax, scrambled eggs and onion served with a bialy from Kossar’s. A bialy is kinda like a bagel, except that it isn’t boiled before it is baked, so it has a crunchier exterior. Oh, also, where there is usually a hole, there is a huge well of onions. 
Bad for making out, GREAT for eating.
The gravlax was velvety, salty and mild tasting – since it wasn’t smoked, there was no powerful smoky sense to overwhelm the creamy eggs and delicately caramelized onions. Lox and onions are just made for each other – a sweet, salty, umami packed delight. The rich and creamy eggs balanced out the strong flavored ingredients, and even hot sauce could not have improved this dish. With the lightly dressed salad, freshly fried (if a wee bit limp) fries and that wonderful sour, oniony bialy, this was a totally fantastic meal.
One of my dining companions got the Mexican Matzo Brei –scrambled eggswith tortilla crisps, monterey jack, avocado, black beans and pico de gallo.

Basically, the same thing as Tex-Mex migas. It’s a breakfast burrito on a plate, and it is just delicious. Not what I would call a light or subtle dish, this is for someone who likes spice, who needs to sop up the booze in his/her system and who is able to take a good 2 hour nap after brunch is done.

Napping after eating is one of life’s great pleasures, isn’t it?

And, really, so is Essex. They take reservations, so if you don’t have them, you are kinda out of luck. It’s busy, it’s loud, it’s not where I would bring my dad, but it is also great food at a GREAT price.
And that is a great surprise.
And  isn’t just the martini talking.
Essex on Urbanspoon


  1. I am all about Kettle One dirties. Seriously. Also, I need more bialys in my life. Delish!!

  2. Are these pics with the new camera? I like 'em!

  3. Anonymous says:

    OMG I ate at this place years ago with kara. Totally loved it. I'm sorry, 3 bloody marys with brunch. It was a dream come true for me!!!

    Michelle C

  4. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Sarah – Agreed on both counts. And, of course, I need more Sarah in my life!
    @Hungry-yes! it was a HUGE investment, but I am so glad that you like the end result!!
    @Michelle – CLEARLY, I agree!!

  5. ANDDD…the service was top notch. If you are oh so lucky (and just as friendly in return) you may just get a fourth mimosa on the house πŸ˜‰

  6. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Lauren-unless you already had a martini…in which case you will be WAY too schnokered for an extra!!! πŸ˜‰

  7. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Lauren-and by you…I meant me!!!