Despite the fact the iconic Empire Diner takes up what is now a quite valuable piece of real estate on the edges of Chelsea, the establishment remains a stronghold in the neighborhood. It has gone through multiple transformations since its 1946 inception, yo-yoing between abandonment and resurrection over the years, but always remaining at the nexus of the art world, surrounded as it is by countless galleries, and, in more recent years, the Highline.
The neighborhood has changed drastically over the years. Long forgotten are the grittier days when artists started to populate an area overgrown with gas stations, machine shops, and auto part stores. Truly emblematic of the shift in the area is the menu of the recently (re)resurrected Empire, manned by chef Amanda Freitag, who cut her chops working under chef Jean-Gorges Vongerichten, going on to become quite the television personality. You might have seen her on Food Network or The Next Iron Chef.
But at Empire, the food is the star of the show, and rightfully so. The menu features all sorts of curious combinations that look practically unpalatable on paper but impress the palate. It is diner fare, refined.
Heard: Our charmingly quirky waiter and pretty much anything that came out of his mouth.
Seen: Art-modern in all its NYC glory.
Tasted: Sweet pea “panzenalla” salad, Buffalo skate wings, chili cheese fries, skirt steak & potatoes, charred broccoli & pecorino romano, banana split.
Drank: Levinson’s Old Fashioned (rye, averna, bitters all spice dram), Ramsay Pinot Noir 2012
Details: 210 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011