We pulled open the curtains to blinding sunshine; a welcomed change to the slightly miserable weather that we awoke to the previous morning. Eager to get outside and play, Michael & I got ready in a flash and headed out to our first stop of the day – Smorgasburg food market in Brooklyn.
Smorgasburg came highly recommended by fellow foodies and, since it’s only open on Sunday’s (and I was only there for one Sunday), I made damn sure that we went and had a snoop, despite our champagne brunch booking at Beauty & Essex later that afternoon.
The market is located at Pier 5, with wonderful views of Brooklyn Bridge and New York City. The place was packed with hungry & happy food lovers.
The first stall to grab our attention was Red Hook Lobster, of which I had heard many great things. The tender love and care that goes into their lobster rolls is second to none, with every component of the roll thoroughly thought through and carefully put together. You can read the story of how these mighty lobster rolls came to be here – it’s quite something!
Unfortunately, with a belly still full from our EPIC sushi feast the night before and a big, boozy brunch due to commence imminently, I didn’t get to taste the beauties, but here is a picture that I’m sure will get you just as excited as I got when seeing them in the flesh!
^ People were going crazy for their lobster fix – I am a woman on a serious mission when next in NYC to get my chomps on one of these!
mouth-watering duck sandwiches from Duck Season;
^ I tell you, it took a lot of strength to stop myself from doing a grab and run!
ramen from Rai Rai Ken;
vegan food from The Vegan Pop-Up Diner;
fresh peaches from Georgia;
and monster ice-cream sandwiches, the stall of which definitely had the longest queue of all.
So, when I said at the start of this post that it was a nice, sunny day, what I should have said was that it was an unbearably, sweltering hot day. Even if we hadn’t been trying to save our stomachs for brunch, I honestly don’t know how people were managing to eat hot food.
In desperate need of refreshment, we grabbed two young Thai coconuts (my fave things in the world) from one of the stalls, and retreated to a blissful spot of shade to cool down.
^ I told you it was hot!
Then the time came for us to say goodbye to Smorgasburg, which I managed to do without a heavy heart, feeling safe in the knowledge that I will be returning with my appetite someday very soon.
Beauty & Essex is super quirky in that once you walk through the front doors you find yourself questioning whether you’re at the “right Beauty & Essex”, since the entrance room is a small pawn shop, with everything you see for sale.
I particularly liked the guitar-laden wall.
However, you can rest assured that you most certainly are in the right place, since once you pass through the hidden door at the back of the room you walk into a rather stunning, tasteful restaurant.
Since Michael & I were the first to arrive and my whole face had melted off in the heat of Smorgasburg, I seized the opportunity to freshen up in the Ladies.
^ Not your average bathroom…
I emerged to find Michael waiting at the bar with two cold glasses of bubbly. Exactly what the doctor ordered. I could have kissed him.
The main dining room is very beautiful with a large, glass dome in the ceiling, which floods the room with natural light (like at Mildred’s, but way better).
However, the Sunday Champagne Brunch is held on the second floor. Once everyone had arrived we made our way upstairs, leaving behind all restaurant norms, entering into what can only be described as a nightclub, with next to no light and booming music, and people covered in glowsticks, blowing whistles, dancing & drinking.
I must admit that walking into this setting sober and slightly hungover, when I was looking forward to eating good food and chatting, did make my heart sink a little. However, the feeling was fleeting; I embraced the unexpected and relaxed as the champagne began flowing.
The Sunday Champagne Brunch menu costs $55pp (+ service) and provides a one-person portion of each of the following:
Dark Chocolate Croissants
Red Velvet Waffles w/ cream cheese icing (for which they are famous, and for good reason!)
Kale & Apple Salad w/ apple cider vinaigrette, pancetta, candied pecans, shaved goat cheese
Grilled Cheese, Smoked Bacon & Tomato Soup Dumplings (these were PHENOMENAL)
Braised Short Rib ‘Huevos Rancheros’ w/ sunny side up eggs, black beans, cotija
Fried Chicken Biscuit Bites w/ tabasco honey butter, red cabbage slaw
Skillet Roasted Potatoes
Petite Cupcakes w/ red velvet cake & cream cheese frosting, and Guinness cake & Bailey’s frosting
+ 2 glasses of champagne
Some of the food really lived up to the hype, like the red velvet waffles and dumplings, but I found some of the other dishes rather lacklustre. Having said that, it was eminently clear from our surroundings that people don’t attend the Sunday Champagne Brunch for the food, with everyone standing and dancing whilst eating. Thus, it wasn’t really a fair test, food-wise. Plus, considering that the food was decent; we got to sample lots of dishes; the vibe and music were both awesome; and our server was more than generous when it came to top-up’s (I think we probably had a bottle of champers each), it was absolutely worth every penny!
Essentially, I wish I could have visited Beauty & Essex twice during my (far too) short trip, once for dinner (since Laura’s evening and food looked divine) and once for the Sunday Champagne Brunch, which is much more about the party than enjoying a meal.
Unfortunately for you, and much more for me, when we walked upstairs for brunch I managed to sling a full, open bottle of water in my (Prada) handbag, soaking all of my beloved possessions, including my most prized, my camera, which was instantly pronounced dead, breaking my heart as the photos from brunch would have been BEYOND amazing. Thankfully, life does go on, and I managed to distract myself with the help of (a lot of) champagne, but it does sadly mean that I have no photos to share of our amazing afternoon.
In short, I would really recommend the Sunday Champagne Brunch, but I would go much earlier, i.e. around 1pm, as the lights only get turned down low and the music starts blaring at 3pm, so that you can enjoy a normal meal, and then the party. Sadly, we just didn’t know about the timings, but now you do, and we do for next time!
We stumbled outside at 6pm (which is when the brunch ends) into blinding sunshine and intense heat, heavily intoxicated and nowhere near ready for the day’s fun to be over. After a brief discussion, it was settled, to Le Bain we went!
Le Bain is a (freaking awesome) penthouse discothèque and rooftop bar in the The Standard hotel, with some INCREDIBLE views of the City (forget The Freedom Tower!), for which I’m afraid the iPhone had to suffice.
During summer, they open a plunge pool on the dance floor and cover the rooftop with ‘grass’ and deck chairs, so that you can enjoy a bit of summer suburbia without having to leave the heart of Manhattan. Too good to be true?
We drank many too many a bottle of prosecco in the dwindling day’s light, and watched the beautiful sunset.
I then drunk ate an entire pig’s worth of ribs.
It was such an epic day enjoyed in great company in the most magical city. I am still sad that I don’t have good photos of the whole day but, as Kam rightly said, I have the (best) memories.