EssexThe first thing we noticed about Essex is the cool, double-decker space. It looks like one of those loft spaces you dream about stealing for fifty-grand from some dying, old lady who has no idea what she has. Of course, those dreams never come true, but anybody can walk into this restaurant/bar and swill some cosmos, or chow down on some decent food. Everything I read described the food as a mixture of Jewish and Latin grub, but we found the menu to be a little more ethnically neutral–I had a very tasty steak with mushrooms and gnocchi. Last time I checked, my Jewish grandmother in Florida wasn’t making gnocchi, or steak for that matter. Brisket empanadas anyone? We were there for a private party up in one of the two loft-like balcony spaces, so we didn’t get the full experience, but we did go down to the main floor a few times, squeezing between the packed crowd to get to the bathroom. The patrons seemed to be generally in their early-thirties, pretty well-dressed and certainly more hip than your typical t.g.i. Friday’s crowd. The party was great, as we had our own space away from the general admission folks, along with our own bar and waitress service, but unlike a lot of party rooms at other restaurants and bars, we could watch the main space from our vantage point above the crowds. A good time was had by all… maybe we’ll go back for brunch and experience the while thing again during the day. [MF]

119 Rivington Street (at Essex)