Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sons Of Essex: A Lower East Side Hot Spot Worth Checking Out

By: Anne M. Raso

So many hip restaurants on Essex Street and so little time--first there were the casual restaurants and stands inside the Essex Market, then just Essex Restaurant, then Beauty & Essex. Now, Sons Of Essex is the big hotspot. The refreshing decor combines old school decor featuring antiques and immigrant style photos mixed with distressed woods and modern tables. There is dim lighting, so you might want to ask for an extra candle for your table. The crowd is young, and when I went to visit, loud rap music was blaring--we hear that the background music is of all types, though! I was probably the only person over 30 and SOE definitely attracts the beautiful and hip--who happen to appreciate good food. The best way to start off a meal there is by trying the Grand Sachem ($13), which included Grey Goose Poire, lemon peel, lemon juice, spiced sugar and cardamom syrup.
Grand Sachem
I enjoyed the luscious maple coated Hen & Waffle (probably the only place serving it south of Harlem) as a starter and found it well worth the $15 even though the portion of chicken was only about 6 to 8 ounces. The homemade Belgian waffle was as tender as they get. I would actually like to be able to try one plain someday if the staff will let me do it—I bet they would let me do it at their much talked about weekend brunch. I must actually have this waffle of all heavenly waffles three ways, actually--with the “hen,” just plain for breakfast and as a dessert with gelato on top.
Hen and Waffle
I chose the Apple Crumb Pork Chop ($28) as my entree and it is rare to find a good old pork chop and apple combo on a menu these days even though it is a very traditional American Dish. The super thick bone in chop is topped with simple butter-sautéed apples and topped with graham cracker butter crumbs. This is a very large portion (the pork chop on is about 12 ounces) so two people could share if they wanted.
Apple Crumb Pork Chop
My guest had the restaurant's most famous dish, Lobster Pot Pie ($29) that looked like something on the cover of vintage cooking mag from the 40s. As my friend broke the top of the pie with her fork, I noticed huge one and two inch wide pieces of Maine lobster and chunky vegetables and everyone around us had to sneak a look, too. A lobster pot pie in a trendy Manhattan eatery is a rarity and this one has garnered accolades from Yelp to New York magazine!
Lobster Pot Pie
I also tested out the Losaida Skirt Steak ($27) which came perfectly medium as requested with and what made it special was not only the tenderness of the meat, but the numerous "secret" Latin spices that it was marinated. I know for certain that rosemary, cinnamon and cumin were in the mix. It came with both salsa verde and pico de gallo for dipping and both had a kick and were perfectly fresh, as they were made using tomatoes from local gardens.
Losaida Skirt Steak
Wonderful sides that I tried include the nutty and buttery Roasted Brussels Sprouts ($9) and Shoestring Truffle Fries ($9), which came topped with fresh herbs including rosemary, and had the nutty taste of top-notch truffle oil.
Shoestring Truffle Fries
The three desserts I sampled were Butterscotch Pudding With Brulee Bananas, Fried Chocolate Wontons With Hot Butter Rum Dipping Sauce and Churros With Creme Anglaise Dipping Sauce. (All desserts at SOE are priced at a reasonable $9.) For those who crave richness beyond their wildest dreams, I would suggest the Butterscotch Pudding--it's not quite the kind the grandma or great grandma used to make as it has both caramel and brunt sugar topping it, as well as fresh banana slices.
Butterscotch Pudding with Brulee Bananas
The Fried Chocolate Wontons really tasted like a traditional Chinese wonton that would normally have vegetables or pork inside, but instead, had liquid warm dark chocolate sauce. They are deep fried so the chocolate is indeed super hot and oozing. To be honest, my favorite part of this dessert was the Hot Butter Rum Dipping Sauce--this was something Captain Morgan must have fantasized about when he was alone on his ship--this is an exceptional sauce that would be great over ice cream or even the aforementioned Butterscotch Pudding.
Fried Chocolate Wontons
The Churros were soft, tender and cinnamony and the delicious vanilla scented crème that accompanied it kicked this dessert out of the ballpark. It would not be farfetched to say that these are the finest churros ever offered north of the border!
Churros with Creme Anglaise Dipping Sauce
My final verdict is: bring BOTH your sons and daughters to Songs Of Essex. It would also be a great place to impress a date!

Sons Of Essex
133 Essex Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 674-7100

Sons of Essex on Urbanspoon

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