South Gate at The Essex House- Is It All It’s Hyped Up to Be?

About 2 weeks ago, my boyfriend and I decided to dine like the rich- well, at least feel rich during restaurant week! If you don’t know what restaurant week is (which I hope is not the case, because it’s awesome and should be taken advantage of!!), it happens 2-3 times a year, where upscale Manhattan restaurants set a pre-fixed menu and charge a standard rate of $24.70 for lunch and $35.00 for dinner. It includes 3 courses, appetizer, entree and dessert. Let me just say that it is a SERIOUS PROCESS for a vegetarian to find a restaurant during restaurant week. I conducted a weeks worth of research to find a place that had either A. a single vegetarian option or B. multiple options on the menu. It’s really sad to see that the majority of these so-called “high-end” restaurants don’t even offer a single item for a vegetarian! Don’t they realize that more and more people are turning vegetarian AND vegan!? Sheesh!

Anyways, enough of my rant! I’m a huge fan of Zagat and pretty much agree with their ratings on food, decor and service. South Gate at the Essex House received a 24 for food- which, by the way is awesome, a 25 for decor and 23 for service. Basically, the restaurant was rated pretty highly! The menu had 5 appetizer choices- 3 of which were vegetarian, but only 1 entree. I decided to make a reservation for Friday night.

We arrived at the restaurant around 8:30pm and the hostess seated us at the bar till our table was ready. I asked the bartender which cocktail was the sweetest- yes i like my desserts sweet, and my drinks extra sweet :). He recommended the Strawberry Fields Caiparinha, made with rum and a strawberry-basil puree. It was yummy! Sagar ordered a beer- ewww.

 

Quick Rates: (out of 10)

  • Food: 8
  • Beverages: 9
  • Service: 9
  • Ambiance: 10
  • Price: 6

The Appetizers. I ordered the Roasted Beet Crostino (without the guanciale- bacon) and Sagar ordered Spinach-Ricotta Ravioli. Sagar’s ravioli was equally delicious- soft and fresh, it tasted homemade! It also wasn’t too garlicky or overwhelming with strong Italian flavors. It was more French-provencal style. The combination of the fennel and spinach-ricotta filling was great!

My crostini was nicely toasted and topped with soft- fresh mozzarella, yellow and red beets and a fresh-herby dressing. I really liked it, and the portion was surprisingly large!

The Entree. So as I said, we only had 1 option for our entree- Roasted Winter Vegetables: house-made farfalle, poached egg and truffled parmesan cream.

Honestly, the portion was kind of on the small side. It wasn’t a big deal for me since I’m a small eater, but for the average person it’s small. The truffled parmesan cream sauce was very good- flavorful and just the right amount on the pasta. The selection of “winter vegetables” was definitely not my favorite, but the combination of them tasted ok. I must say they were cut way too big- the brussel sprouts were only cut in half, so it wasn’t tender throughout and tasted a little bitter. I didn’t see any poached egg in my dish, so I don’t know where that went! In conclusion, the entree was decent, but the portion was small, and there wasn’t enough farfelle, but all-in-all it was a good dish.

The Dessert. I ordered the Semisweet Chocolate Pie with Salted Pretzel and Chantilly Cream, and Sagar ordered the Warm Chocolate Banana Cake with Malted Ice Cream. Mine was great- a chocolatey-smooth pie topped with a crisp & salty pretzel brittle, accompanied with a lightly sweetened dollop of cream.

Sagar’s was a warm chocolate-banana bunt cake with a side of ice cream- definitely not as gourmet as mine ;). I approved of the desserts though!

There is one BIG detail that I have not mentioned, but completely altered my perception of the restaurant. When they walked us to our table, they happen to seat us right next to another Indian couple, who were next to yet another Indian table. I felt like we were segregated in the back- it was kind of weird!! They weren’t disrespectful or rude, but it was odd that they sat us next to all the other Asian people in the back of the restaurant!!

US! In our segregated corner, hehe)

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