Entering through a pawn shop, one walks into a dark, decadent, and sensual dining area. I'd been once prior for a not so satisfying brunch but we had wanted to try it at dinner time, check out the scene, the cocktails, and dinner menu.
The cocktails were somewhat inventive and priced pretty much on par with the wines, making it the obvious choice, especially for the environment. What about in terms of food? You guessed it -- a variety of small plates. However, unfortunately for us non-meat eaters, the menu was pretty meat heavy.
We split their pan con tomate with burrata -- a simple preparation again that I found was somewhat lacking in punch and flavor -- burrata is so decadent that you should get that voluptuous roundness in each morsel, not here...
Santos, I think is most successful when he sticks to his interpretations of American comfort foods -- like his grilled cheese and tomato soup dumplings and lobster mac n' cheese. The dumplings hit just the right note of inventive and cozy comfort food for a snowy Saturday evening. The lobster mac n' cheese was flavorful and aromatic but dynamic and delish, not too heavy.
Overall a great place for groups for a fun Saturday evening out on the LES. I'm glad we went for dinner and there are plenty of other places I'd try before going back. Perhaps I'd go for the cocktails and the upstairs lounge at a later date.
Beauty & Essex
146 Essex Street