As we were looking for a place to eat after a solo exhibit from one of Jodi’s friends, Patty, trying to go back home before the announced storm that fortunately did not happen, we stumbled upon Empire Diner, an upscale retro diner serving an elevated fare. For sure, the mural on top of it from Eduardo Kobra called "Mount Rushmore of Art" and representing famed artists Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat attractedour eyes as we walked on 10th avenue.
Yes, this is not your regular diner and this place, after shutting down several times since its creation in 1976 seems to have found its way in the culinary scene, with an interesting menu that has few southern touches, the most apparent being their buttermilk biscuits that they offer instead of bread. Fantastic and addictive, it is funny to see the staff walking around the room with a cake holder topped with a mountain of these. One was not enough for sure and I could have eaten a bunch.
For the appetizer, I tried their deviled eggs with chicken cracklings: just ok, a bit too much mayonnaise.
For her entree, Jodi who was not that hungry ordered their soup of autumn squash made with roasted delicata, red mustards, Greek yogurt and a pumpkin seed pesto. This was a very good soup, quite comforting.
On my side, I had the New York pastrami sandwich, a classic diner dish that was made with coleslaw, melted Swiss in marble rye. It was delicious: the pastrami was good, fatty and tasty. However, I wish they served it with some Russian dressing (I probably should have asked). Still, very good. It was served with herbed fries that were how I like them: crispy and thin.
With my entree, I drank a cocktail: the Empire Red Eye made with Four Roses Bourbon and Averna.
Last was dessert: we went for the S’mores torte that is composed of toasted marshmallows, dark chocolate mousse and honey graham ice cream. Delicious, it was heavy and I admit that after the pastrami, I was already full but needed to end the meal with something sweet.
This was a very good meal and I would certainly go back to Empire Diner, maybe for brunch, but also for diner. I love the fact that they reinvented a symbol of Americana in such an elegant way.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Empire Diner - 210 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011