Photos courtesy of @beautyessexla. Follow for mouthwatering pics and cocktail envy!
The enormous, lightbulb lit sign can’t be missed, and still one pauses to wonder upon entering the glitzy shop with its distracting array of fine jewelry and guitars, “Am I in the right place?” No one guides you so you move to the door at the back left as the only logical option to move forward.
We Angelenos are no stranger to “secret” entrance establishments, see: Magic Castle, Blind Barber, or the Houston Brothers’ impressive catalog of speakeasies… La Descarga (enter through a closet), Good Times at Davey Waynes (enter through a refrigerator door), No Vacancy, Dirty Laundry, and the list continues.
Still, briefly disoriented by the change in light, you gingerly put one stiletto in front of the other until you reach what appears to be the check-in for reservations. A model/actress/restaurant hostess greets you and escorts you to the bar to await the rest of your party. You were previously informed about their strict policy regarding no seating until all have arrived, and there’s nothing fashionable about being late in your book. You’re a boss…punctual, efficient, and ruthless in a pencil skirt.
Perhaps you have a Pink Panther while you wait… A frosty gin cocktail featuring pink peppercorn or perhaps it’s the Beauty Elixir, another gin based beverage but with cucumber, strawberry, and sparkling Rosé. If you’re me you opt for the Oaxacan Old Fashioned…Herradura silver tequila, El Silencio Mezcal, anchor reyes chile liqueur, lemon-thyme, orange oil, and angostura & chocolate bitters... (I prefer my cocktails like I prefer my friends: strong, complex, and with unmistakable fire.)
Since LA’s newest buzzworthy eatery opened just over a month ago I’ve been lucky enough to dine there twice: once in celebration of my beautiful best friend, Tiffany Keller’s birthday, and the other, more recently, with an intimate group of travel industry professionals hosted by Eric Floyd, Director of Luxury Sales in North America for Accor, and Megan Peri, Head of Strategic Partnerships for One Fine Stay.
Between the two I’ve done a considerable job working my way through the menu, and I have to admit… I’m impressed. With a similar “scene” attached to it I rather expected it to be like Hyde Sunset, bland food and plastic people. Though some items (ahem tuna tacos) are all too familiar to the “trendy, tapas style” menu, Beauty & Essex accomplishes something that not all others do… They’re good. Actually, some items are really good.
The chipotle Mahi tacos, for instance, are surprising delicious with their unexpected kick of spice. The savory Mexican street corn ravioli with roasted poblano crema, jalapeno, and cotija, is rich and comforting, while the medium rare bone-in ribeye comes perfectly undone, juicy and flavorful.
We also enjoyed the oven braised chicken meatballs, grilled asparagus, ‘chile relleno’ empanadas, kale & apple salad, Peruvian salmon ceviche, oysters, steak tartare, heirloom tomatoes & burrata, grilled cheese & tomato soup dumplings, lollipop sprouts, Garganelli, Movie Theater Sundae, and devil’s food layer cake. (Yes, I went to Runyon five days in a row following that.)
The space, too, is gorgeous. 10,000 square feet of vintage inspired opulence crowned by a 20 foot oval skylight. Should you care to refresh your lipstick you’ll want to do it after the complimentary champagne that’s served in the ladies’ room (which happens to look like the inside of Barbie’s dream house). I did not get a chance to see the second level patio, but I look forward to enjoying its outdoor seating as the nights continue to heat up. Dining in LA, of course, is preferred al fresco. Altogether a job well done by Tao Group and Chef/Partner Chris Santos…but don’t take my word for it. Strap on your shoes, lace up your dress and go see for yourself!