The psychology behind the COUPON:

My mother is one of those frugal Asians. She refuses to buy things like Folgers Coffee until it’s on sale and until she has a coupon. She doesn’t buy toilet paper from BJ’s until there’s a rebate. In other words, she’s everything that a company would hate. She knows how to use her coupons because she uses them on products she’d buy anyway.

Now, I have this friend. She also uses alot of coupons because her disposable income isn’t that much. When she receives a coupon from American Eagle, she’ll make an effort to utilize that 10% off offer. When she gets a coupon from Dunkin Donuts, she’ll go and buy that large latte to save that $1. In other words, she’s everything that a company would love. She spends more money using coupons on products that she normally would not buy.


Mimosa, Bloody Mary, Screwdriver

And then there’s me. I have high expectations for brunch entrees that set me back $15 or more. But throw in a prix fixe, especially one that includes drinks, and I am one happy camper even if the food isn’t that great. It makes no sense since the entree that I ordered at Essex sure as heck wasn’t $18 worth, but I left so happy, because they threw in three mimosas. The weird thing is, I don’t even care about drinks. I’ve never ordered an alcoholic beverage at brunch. The fact that they included not one, but three drinks, into that $18 deal made me think I was getting a super-cheap brunch.  It’s like using coupons in the wrong way.

So yes, brunch at Essex is $18 for an entree and three drinks- a choice between (3) Bloody Mary, Screwdriver, or Mimosa. And the food is okay, though I’d only be willing to pay around $12 for my Cubano at any other place. The Mimosas actually err on the side of being too champagne concentrated, which in some ways, is better. But the highlight wasn’t the drinks or the food. I actually thought it was the venue.

The Essex is two storied, and if you dine on the ground floor, you have sweeping ceilings that are at least 20 ft. tall. We dined on the second floor, which felt totally different. Satin and sheen curtains hanging on white paneled windows made the place feel intimate instead of the loft-like ambiance downstairs. And although they had some ghetto looking sunlights, it was great to have the sun shining down the whole time.


The Essex Cubano with sweet plantains // 3 eggs any style with fresh fruit & choice of bacon, chicken apple sausage

The walls are brick white and showcase some awesome abstract pieces. They sorta remind me of Jackson Pollock, but less crazy. Anyway, I really love the way the restaurant is decked out. The only complaint is how cramped everything is, but I guess if I had a restaurant that had reservations hours long, I’d also make use of every square foot.

essex cubano
The Essex Cubano up close

So how was my Cubano? It was delicious, but not the best Cubano I’ve had. It’s a pressed sandwich with goeey, melted Swiss and ham and roasted pork right smack in the middle. Then there’s a small side of those plantains, which really are as soft and delicately sweet as they look. I thought it lacked KETCHUP, but I think that’s just me. Would I recommend the Cubano despite everything I said? Yes- especially if you want savory food.

baked egg
Baked eggs over crisp ham with peppers, shitake mushrooms & monterey jack*

I really wish I ordered this. It’s the savory dish that your mouth craves for when it’s hungry in the morning. Literally, they layer everythhing on top of each other and bake it so that the cheese melts perfectly over the eggs. The eggs are undercooked so that when you cut into the egg, the yolk starts running out. I will admit that it’s a bit too heavy and rich, meaning that it’s good up until like the 10th bite. Everything that ends with an asterisk on the menu is served with home potatoes and a side of salad.

essex apps
I almost forgot! The stale garlic bread! Yeah, so they serve store-brought garlic bread that’s a bit stale. I guess with three drinks and an entree, I shouldn’t expect in house baked bread. The service was timely despite how busy the place was and the servers were constantly refilling everyone’s drinks. As a note, it’s illegal in NYC to serve alcohol before noon on Sunday, so if you go during that time frame, all teas and coffees are complimentary.

I don’t expect that I’ll be coming back here again. It’s one of those places that you should go for brunch only because “it’s one of those places” that everyone talks about, and it’s group friendly. But it’s definitely not worth a 20+ minute wait so make reservations at 11am and get there on time. Before noon, you can still snag seats for groups of 5, but be prepared to wait as soon as noon hits. The food is good, but not great. The whole deal, for $18, is worth it though, especially for all of the choices you get.

120 Essex St.

New York, NY 10002
at Rivington St.  See Map | Subway Directions

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212-533-9616 Send to Phone
Essex on Urbanspoon

Photo du jour:

[47/365] Rain drops keep falling in my bokeh