Do you want to feel like a celebrity or socialite in New York for a night? If your answer is no, you might want to change your mind. If you answered yes—I like your attitude—follow my instructions: check out Beauty & Essex, the new IT place for dining and drinks, from the owners of Stanton Social.
If you ask for a dinner reservation, you may be told the only opening is at 10:30 p.m. Take it! Just remember to eat a snack around 7:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m.to avoid starvation. Take your time choosing your outfit; you have to look the part. Break out a pair of your highest heels, sport that metallic dress, wear that hot new shade of red lipstick, and add a final touch with that sparkly clutch.
Once you get there,in the heart of the Lower East Side, it’s all about attitude. You’ll see a line at the door, but since you are a V.I.P. you’ll go straight to the host, who will check your name on an iPad and let you in. You’llenter the restaurant through a pawn shop—so cool! Once you get into the actual dining space, a big spiral staircase and a beautiful chandelier will welcome you. You’ll be seated in about 20 minutes, so in the meantime you’ll order a drink at the bar and maybe take a look upstairs. There, you’ll find a cozy, modern lounge and an amazing lamp made out of large pearl necklaces. I will not explain every detail of the decor, so you can find out for yourselves!
I do have to say that the ambiance of the place is amazing; you will feel like a celebrity and think everyone there is one too. The server told me that I looked familiar and asked me if I was famous, and of course I had to go along with it. I said that I was famous back home in Venezuela, where I did Latin soap operas, and those were my 15 minutes of fame. I actually did spot some celebrities the evening I visited Beauty & Essex. I saw John Mayer, who told my friend that it wasn’t a “flash-appropriate” night because he was hanging by himself. I also saw Vienna Girardi, the winner of The Bachelor Season 14, who was dressed with sexy knee-high boots and posing on the stairs like a real celeb. Other celebs that have stopped by Beauty & Essex include Ashley Olsen, Kim Kardashian, Kelly Rutherford, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Ali Fedotowsky.
The food was extraordinary; chef Chris Santos’s menu of tapas and small plates is designed for sharing at the table with friends and family. The food is multi-ethnic in inspiration and casually elegant. My favorites included the Tomato Tartare with a Sunny-Side-Up Quail Egg, the General Tso’s Monkfish, the Yellowtail Crudo, the Kobe Beef Carpaccio, the Branzino, and the Charred Shishito Peppers. Finger-licking good!
Follow my instructions and you’ll have a great time feeling like a celebrity for the night! —Daniela Apeloig
Beauty & Essex
146 Essex Street, New York, NY 10002
I recently had a fun night out in New York City at the Darby, a supper club fashioned after those made famous in the 40s and 50s with their celebrity clientele, like the El Morocco. This updated incarnation has a swanky, hip crowd where media, fashion, and finance meet. Celebrity fans include Leo DiCaprio, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Ryan Seacrest, Charlize Theron, and Liv Tyler, to name a few.
The Darby, located in the Meatpacking District in what used to be the nightclub Nell’s, is the brainchild of Scott Sartiano, Richie Akiva, and executive chef Alex Guarnaschelli (the creative team from Butter). The space has an opulent feel, with dark-red, upholstered banquettes lining the back wall, oversized chandeliers, and antique oak chairs. The cabaret-style setting, with several tables in front of the stage, adds to the plush, heady atmosphere.
The minute you walk into the Darby, you feel as if you have been transported back in time. The lounge area with a bar is immediately on the right as you walk in. We headed straight to the bar and tried cocktails with names like Sunday Fizz, made with pink grapefruit vodka, and Spicy Dame, which is the Darby’s most popular cocktail (pictured) and is made with Belvedere Intense Vodka, mint, cucumber, jalapeño, and ginger syrup.
Once we were seated, our hostess adorned with blonde Heidi braids, explained, “The band will come on and sing in 20-minute sets, so you may want to order your food before they start—it can get loud.” We did, and soon after, the band took the stage.
The talented Darby house band includes lead singers Ron Grant and Lady Rizo (known as the House Mistress and always outfitted by Marchesa), who belted out a variety of tunes from Broadway and jazz to hip-hop and Motown. When Ron sang Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long,” it was an ’80s flashback. Now flash forward to today. John Mayer recently gave an impromptu performance at Gerard Butler’s birthday dinner. A few weeks later, Glee actor Charice Pempengco took the stage. Last Tuesday, Prince performed!
Seems there are celebs singing no matter when you’re there—or where. At one point, I went to the ladies’ room and heard singing in the stall next to me. The most beautiful, familiar voice. The bathroom doors swung open at the same time—and OMG, it was Mary J. Blige! I had interviewed her on the red carpet at the Gotham Magazine 10th Annual Gala. We had a good laugh!
The Darby’s food and service are very good, and the classic American dishes are made with market-fresh ingredients. Menu highlights include oysters Rockefeller and lobster Newberg. This type of heavy cuisine is usually not my thing. No worries—there is plenty of lighter fare. We enjoyed the tuna tartare with hazelnuts and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, the mixed-shellfish platter, the grilled striped bass, and the seared filet mignon. If you are a raw-bar fan, the impressive selection includes several types of oysters (my husband Michael ordered the bluepoints and thought they were fresh and delicious). I loved the baked Alaska and the dark-chocolate soufflé for dessert!
Theatrical dining experience, good food, great entertainment, and Hollywood glamour all under one roof? Run, don’t walk—if you can score a reservation! —Melissa Meyers
246 West 14th Street (Seventh and Eighth)
I discovered Silkstone Catering and Events, the creative team behind the Fat Radish restaurant, when I attended an event at the offices of HSN this fall. FEED Projects co-founder Lauren Bush and HSN CEO Mindy Grossman were collaborating with UNICEF to launch the FEED Trick-or-Treat Bag. I happened to notice how yummy and unusual the hors d’oeuvres were while at the event,so I asked one of the servers for a card.
Being a fan of everything organic, I called to get some info on the food and heard that Silkstone Catering had just opened a restaurant called “The Fat Radish.” (I thought the name was quite interesting—and the restaurant does serve fresh radishes with an olive oil tapenade at each table.) I learned about Silkstone’s unique concept and that it happens to be the caterer of choice to several celebrities and the NYC fashion scene. It was time to check it out . . .
So, my husband and I headed downtown with some good friends to try the Fat Radish. I was told that the restaurant’s interior was inspired by London’s original Covent Garden marketplace. The Fat Radish definitely has a down-to-earth, minimalist feel that combines the original, historic, Chinatown details with a welcoming, communal environment. We all loved the distressed farmhouse tables.The crowd was young and hip without being pretentious—a really good vibe. The menu is eclectic and well-executed. Dishes to try include the beet crumble with aged cheddar and oats, the cured lemon sole with pumpkin seed and dandelion, and our favorite—the honey-glazed duck with kombucha squash and wheat berries.The dark-chocolate and beetroot cake and caramelized banana and cream desserts were amazing, too!
What makes the food special at the Fat Radish is that it offers modern British cooking with an emphasis on farm-to-table practices and local sourcing. (In fact, there is nothing else like it in NYC.) The talented duo of Brits Ben Towill and Phil Winser are the creative team behind this unique eatery, and source the finest seasonal produce from specialist local farms to create healthy, delicious dishes.
The Fat Radish wine list was created by Erin Fitzpatrick. Many of the wines are bio-dynamic and are produced in family vineyards that use sound farming and vinification practices. Erin also serves as a sommelier at Manhattan’s famed Waverly Inn.
The cocktail menu is also of interest and is curated by David Clelland, one of Britain’s leading mixologists and head bartender from Apotheke. Clelland has created fresh cocktails for The Fat Radish that reflects the fruits, herbs, and spices in season. —Melissa Meyers
The Fat Radish
17 Orchard Street (between Hester and Canal)
One of my favorite Spanish culinary claims to fame—tapas. This nation has figured out how to balance the dining-out desire to taste many dishes and satisfy appetites with the need not to over order. While many Spanish restaurants offer extensive selections of tapas and appetizer-sized dishes—and the small-plates trend has broken free of the Spanish border and taken hold in other national cuisines—my favorite authentic tapas restaurant in the States is Barcelona in Greenwich, Conn. On a date or out with your girlfriends, sample a variety of flavors by ordering several small plates for round one. If you are feeling ambitious, go for round two. I love a glass of traditional Spanish Cava with a plate of sautéed shrimp cooked in garlic and sherry. Other favorites include chorizo with sweet and sour figs, grilled asparagus with Meyer lemon, and Serrano ham croquettes with Manchego cheese and garlic aioli. And, the beauty of tapas extends to dessert. Bye-bye lone appetizer, main course, and dessert; bienvenidos, tapas!—Courtney Bannerot
Visit Barcelona Greenwich
18 West Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, Conn. 06830
With the economy in its current state and young 20-somethings not wanting to give up their weekends out on the town, the Exchange Bar & Grill, which opened in the Gramercy area this past April, offers an alternative to the expensive nightlife scene in New York. The bar serves up affordable drinks and a fun night out. The gimmick? Bar as stock exchange—prices for all drinks and food fluctuate depending on what’s popular at the moment. We sense a global trend. Footsie in Paris and Bar La Bolsa in Barcelona operate on the same stock-exchange principle with a ticker tape listing drink prices scrolling across the bar. You won’t regret investing in a night here.—Ariel Gononsky
Exchange Bar & Grill
256 3rd Avenue (between 20th St & 21st St)
New York, NY 10010
I consider myself a curious eater. I love trying new things (my favorite shows include Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern). So, I’ve had dessert crêpes before but I’ve never tried a savory one. So I jumped at the opportunity to visit the Crooked Tree, as they are known for amazing crêpes. And whoa! Have I been missing out or what?! With black forest ham and mozzarella, it tasted like a panini but the deliciously fresh ingredients are in an incredibly delicate buttery shell. If crêpes aren’t your thing, try their crostini and bruschetta. All come with a mixed green salad.—Hyejin Kim
I am NOT an adventurous eater and would never imagine myself eating a chocolaty, sweet dessert—with bacon. But after spotting the chocolate, almond, and bacon crêpe on the menu, I (and my palette) was feeling a bit daring. The first taste was definitely interesting, like nothing I’ve ever tried. However, by the second salty, sweet bite, I was hooked. I may or may not have hogged the entire dessert—sorry Hyejin—but I could have licked the plate for its chocolate-bacon goodness. So go visit to this charming East Village crêperie and indulge your sweet (or savory) tooth yourself!—Lindsay Leff
What we loved!
– Crostini with warm goat cheese and pesto on toasted bread, $6
– Bruschetta with chopped tomato, onion, garlic, basil, and olive oil, $8
– Brie, tomato, and arugula crêpe, $8
– Black forest ham and Jarlsberg crêpe (we substituted for mozzarella), $8
– Chocolate, bacon and almond crêpe, $8
Visit The Crooked Tree