I had never heard of Essex until I got a text from a friend inviting me out to brunch here. Located on the Lower East Side, it’s a bit out of my usual realm of things — I live in Midtown, and while I love the food scene in the LES, I’m by no means an expert on things below the East Village. So, I happily grabbed a cab and made my way downtown.
Brunch here is a prix fixe affair, and it’s a great deal. The menu has something of everything, so this is one of those places that it’s great to bring a group of friends to — everyone will find something. I got the Mexican Matzo Brei which was ridiculously delicious. Kind of like huevos rancheros, with scrambled eggs, tortilla crisps, avocado, monterey jack cheese, black beans, and pico de gallo. It was hearty without being heavy, and the portion was on the fuller side of perfect. My friend got the Challah French Toast, served with a braised bananas sauce of sorts, which would be perfect for those of you with a serious sweet tooth. Included in the fixed price of brunch are 3 drinks, and you get your choice of a Bloody Mary, Screwdriver, or Mimosa.
The space itself is completely nondescript from the outside. From the outside it looks like it could be a bowling alley, an Elks club, or an office space. Go inside, though, and you’re treated to a huge, atrium style space — double height ceilings make it light and airy, and surround windows at the top flood the space with sunlight. The vibe is laid back, and the crowd are definitely mixed — there’s the standard LES types, but they’re mixed in with people from all over the city.