After spending nearly 15 years in New York City, it took roughly the same amount of time to label myself an ‘out of townie’. I made up this designation as a substitute for the pejorative term tourist, that I prefer not to be identified with. I don’t own a good camera nor the plaid shorts. As my years in the exurbs notched up, the city years were eclipsed with one regretful result, ‘I am simply less and less familiar with the city I used to be so in the know with.’
I love New York and always will, but I admit to the fact that it now requires more catching up with. My next-door neighbor is my ‘go-to’ girl when it comes to restaurant recommendations. She frequents the city and is a willing experimenter of all class of trade. From uptown to downtown, she can be counted on to offer up a number of worthy choices. Her enthusiasm for lower east side newcomers, Tao and Stanton Social, led her to suggest I try Chris Santo’s newest joint extraordinaire, Beauty and Essex.
As you near the neon light of the pawnshop on Essex Street, I glance up at the adjacent empty building and recall applying for my first job out of graduate school there. At the time, it was a gritty substance abuse clinic, and not exactly the first social work position I envisioned for myself. I’ve told the story about my interview experience countless times. Fresh out of Wisconsin to New York City with high hopes for a Woody Allen therapist gig this job offer did not make. I had not laid eyes on the place again until this evening. Was this a harbinger of the countless surprises in store for my friend and I behind door number 2?
The entry to Beauty and Essex is through the pawn shop. Door number 1. Yes, a real pawnshop with glass display cases showcasing an array of jewelry and assorted treasures. Security cameras are part of the object d’art and are pointed at the glittering cases in the pawn shop entrance. Another case is inside the “vault”, the dining room on the main level. The century old M Katz and son furniture store is a huge space that is transformative. AvroKo, the award winning design team is attributed for the phenomenon. As the rear door opens, this would be door number 2, the view is a grand multi-story staircase with a drop chandelier that focuses attention on a bi-level bar that both captivates and cautions a step to the inside. A wall is covered in horsehair and another wall of vintage wood jewelry box paneling. The food is small plates, saying nothing about a farm or a table. Instead, the menu boasts a smattering of mixed ethnic tapas from Thai to grilled cheese and tomato soup dumplings. It was rather dark in our corner when the food arrived, leaving me uncertain of differentiating between the plates, however we were appreciative that our choices were (mostly) scrumptious.
The entire place is a bit surreal to be sure. And then, the visit to the ladies room brought it all back home. As my girlfriend and I descended to the lower level to use the ladies room before departing, yet another experience was to await us behind door number 3. There is a bartender (female) pouring champagne, actually a very good glass of champagne. A few sofas in the back and a gaggle of women hanging out in the lieu! Who knew? This is the first destination bathroom of it’s kind I was told. Sitting down with my girlfriend, a jazz and cabaret singer, I think it’s time and place for a song. Soon enough we are joined by a bigger group and before long we are all singing along with Marcie. As we take a break to laugh and introduce ourselves, we learn that this is a bachelorette party, with the bride wearing a celebratory costume for the Queen’s jubilee. I can’t believe how much fun this is, nor that this is the New York I am catching up with. So when we ask when and where the wedding is, and learn that the whole group is from Fairfield, Connecticut? You can’t make this stuff up. There we are, my night out with fellow ‘out of townies.’ To Kristen, Bride in the Bathroom, congrats from Marcie and I. It was very nice meeting you and your wedding party in the ladies room!
Kristen’s wedding took place Saturday the 21st of July at Longshore in Westport.
Linda Patscot has had a successful career as CEO for Pulse, a marketing research firm specializing in behavior and trend analysis for Fortune 500 companies. Her interest in politics and medicine inspired her to found BirthRoad, a consultancy helping intended parents explore 3rd Party Reproduction. She lives In Fairfield with her family where she is currently writing a book.
Linda can be reached at email@example.com