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Monday, December 7, 2009

Essex Restaurant and Sugar Sweet Sunshine Cupcakes

So a couple of you readers can tell by my blog that I always seek out good deals (read: poor and frugal) ... Some of my readers that actually know me in real life and are probably students much like me. With my graduate student stipend going up slower than inflation, my pay is less and less every year, so going out to a decent dinner, much less any dinner is a stretch for me considering I'm saving to attend at least two destination weddings next year (so far), one of which I'm a bridesmaid in. But eating at home gets pretty boring ... Come on, let's be honest, no matter how many different recipes we try from different countries, it kinda all tastes like my cooking! I can make Italian or Japanese, and it tastes like my cooking ... Ha ha! Even my boyfriend admits if I gave a bunch of my friends a recipe, and we all made the same thing, he would be able to tell which one I cooked ...

So anyways, the point to this little speech is ... I DO go out to dinner sometimes. I love eating out. I love the atmosphere of it. It doesn't hurt that I don't have to do a sinkful of dishes either! I hate dishes!

One of my favorite little outings is one I do with my very close friend from graduate school (well, she's actually a postdoc). We hike all the way down to the LES, which is a good 45 minute to one hour train ride from my lab. First we hit Sugar Sweet Sunshine for the best cupcakes in NYC. Oh, please don't tell me you're a fan of the dry cupcakes at Magnolia! And then Essex Restaurant.

Sugar Sweet Sunshine is a little bake shop in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, NYC. Their decor is just so warm and inviting with comfy couches and little tables. But their real draw is their super moist cupcakes. My all-time favorite is their Pistachio cupcake. I can just order 4 of these for a full box and be happy! My second favorite is their pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting. And then its the Sexy Red Velvet with their "the Moose" frosting. Though sometimes their Red Velvet is a bit dry. One of my other school friends likes the Lemon Yummy. Sometimes I'm in the mood for their yellow cake. Their frostings aren't as buttery as Magnolia, but the cake is way moister plus there are more flavors to choose from. BTW, if anyone has an awesome moist recipe for pistachio cupcakes, please let me know. I've seen a couple recipes, maybe I should actually try one. I even bought a box of pistachio pudding mix to try one, but never got around to it ...

Next we hit Essex Restaurant for dinner. Actually, we just order cupcakes, not eat them, and then have them for dessert after Essex. Why do I love Essex so much? Why do I travel one hour on the train to get all the way down here just to eat here? First of all, they have this unreal $16 lobster deal on Wednesdays. A lobster with two sides for $16! They have other daily specials including $1 oysters (Mon and Th) and unlimited mussels $16 (Wed).

Then there's the fact they have happy hour with half priced drinks from 6-9pm Monday through Thursday. So I can get a Stoli tonic or decent glass of wine for only $5! And, to top it off, if I'm I decide to go Sunday through Tuesday for dinner, I can use Restaurant.com to get a $25 Gift certificate (must spend at least $35 on food) there for only $10. But generally they have a discount code. So currently its 70% off, so you can get a $25 Gift Certificate for $3. So if you calculate this out, you can get a $35 for only $13! Plus whatever drinks you decide to have. Its a great deal. Just so you know, Restaurant.com also has GC to other restaurants, but sometimes they don't let you use them. I think restaurants use it as a ploy to get you in the door and then you're too embarrassed to leave, so you just end up eating there. So, If I were you, I'd call before you buy the certificate, because this has happened to me twice already. I've never had a problem at Essex Restaurant. The only thing is you can not use the gift certificate/coupon for their daily specials, which means you can't use it for the $16 lobster deal.

As for recommendations at Essex other than their lobster deal:
warm goat cheese salad with roasted beets, walnuts & arugala $7
fried calamari with habañero-avocado dip $8
jumbo lump crabcake over hearts of palm salad $10
braised short ribs & polenta in a porcini mushroom sauce $11
herbed Colorado lamb chops over sautéed spinach & ricotta gnocchi $21
manchego macaroni & cheese with edamame, haricot vert & citrus salad $12

Sugar Sweet Sunshine
126 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002-2300
(212) 995-1960

Essex Restaurant
120 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002-3211
(212) 533-9616


Epicurette said...

I'm a Billy's Bakery girl myself, but that probably has to do with how close I work to Chelsea, and my great love of Red Velvet. Will definitely try Essex, that lobster is only $2 more then a lobster roll at Lukes in the East Village.

www.dhaleb.com said...

I'll have to try this bakery whenever I'm in the area. If you're looking for cheap eats, try Oh! Taisho in St. Marks. Great yakitori!

Jenn said...

Epicurette, def try the pistachio cupcakes ... did I mention their cupcakes are only $1.50 each?!? When I'm in the Billy's neighborhood, I'll try their red velvet ... online it says their banana cake is good too ...

dhaleb, please try it. I love Oh! Taisho ... But for even better yakitori, I adore Yakitori Totto or Torys. Its pricier, but the quality is unreal. Tho it does lose the dirty quality that yakitori places should have!

Anonymous said...

I love Essex. They have an awesome brunch menu as well! I've never tried SSS Bakery, but I love Sweet Revenge and Babycakes, if you are ever curious to try them!

Mr. P said...

I never got the chance to check out SSS but I love how they chose their name. They ahve amazing looking cakes, much better than crappy Magnolia.

Jenn said...

experimental, I've tried to do brunch there once, its good, but the wait is just too long for me ... Dinner is great, inexpensive, no wait, lots of specials, and a great happy hour! I'll have to check out those bakeries!

Mr. P, if you ever get out here again, you must def try their cupcakes ... esp if you can figure out a good pistachio cupcake recipe for me ... hint hint! ha ha!

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