Monday, November 7, 2011


I am fairly certain that in upcoming weeks Sons of Essex will become too crowded and trendy for the likes of me, but I will enjoy its relative obscurity until that time comes. After a three-hour bus ride from Philadelphia, it was a relief to sink into one of SoE's mismatched chairs and gobble up some complimentary cornbread and Lower-East-Side-born pickles. The aptly titled "Bowery Mission" with its Maker's Mark and honey peppercorn syrup further eased the way into a relaxing, speakeasy sort of end to a stressful ride.

The real star of the menu is probably the grilled cheese, a concoction so dense and buttery that the menu recommends it "for the table," rather than as a one-person meal. We had the truffle variety, and I never met a mushroom I didn't like; on other days, there's apple, Cuban, a whole promising array. The grilled cheese comes with a little cast-iron pot of tomato soup for dipping (Brussels sprouts and caraway-flavored cabbage also come in these nice compact vessels)--perfect comfort food. The ambiance, too, is comforting, hidden behind a deli storefront and full of wood, books, and portraits that look imbued with historical significance. I can imagine settling in here on a snowy winter day and being reluctant to enter the outdoors again.

My "entree" (technically an appetizer, but we ordered so many things to share that a real main seemed daunting) was less sensational than the grilled cheese but tasty in its own right. Regular readers of this blog will know I can never turn down chicken and waffles, a technique that can occasionally backfire but usually works out just fine, as it did at SoE. The hen in my hen and waffles was perhaps no Riverpark fried chicken, but the skin was flavorful and the meat moist. I liked the way the three pieces nested, Russian-doll-like, on top of the waffle. And the waffle itself wasn't your usual overdone giant monstrosity (or an Eggo like the winsome Queens Comfort's) but instead a sweet bite, gaufre liegeois-style. A nice dense twist on a perennial favorite of mine.

The dessert menu looked tasty, but we were too full. Never too full to pick up a cupcake, though--in fact, I'm ashamed to say that cupcakes are how I heard of SoE in the first place--and I look forward to eating the chocolate graham cracker cake later today, but for now it is nestled in a perfect little cupcake-sized container, a perfect analogue to the cozy space of the restaurant itself, if you will.


  1. Can we please go there sometime? It's in my 'hood and I've been curious about it.


  2. Are you around at all over the thanksgiving weekend? Perhaps I should take this conversation to email.