After the service issue and the so so meal we had at Rosa Mexicanos for Jodi's birthday, I surprised her by reserving a table over the week end at Empellon Midtown, the latest venture of chef and founder Alex Stupak, who gave us the wonderful Empellon Taqueria where we went a couple of times, enjoying both the brunch and dinner. The place opened few month ago in a setting that is a bit more spectacular, more upscale than its sister restaurant, and so, it has a different vibe and crowd.
I started of with a cocktail, whisky based of course, and ordered the Tamarind Julep, made with Bain’s Cape Whiskey, Von Humboldt’s Tamarind Cordial, Carpano Antica, Lemon Syrup. It was quite refreshing, but the lemon overpowered a bit the drink.
Food wise, they have lots of interesting dishes, but, as we had a fairly heavy lunch, we decided to order a bunch of small dishes, perfect to share anyway. The first one was of course their guacamole, served with 7 different salsas, from mild to really spicy. The sauces were: smoked cashew, salsa roja, salsa borracha, salsa verde, tomatillio-chipotle, salsa de arbor and habanero. I have tried the habanero one and my mouth was on fire for quite some time...The guacamole was quite good, well seasoned with chunks of avocado, delicious on their homemade tortilla chips, but I admit that for $21, I was expecting a bigger quantity (if you are 3 people, you need a second order).
Next were the half dozen oysters, served with a marinade and hot sauce. They were delicious and I was glad that it was not too spicy.
It was followed by the white asparagus salad, served with queso fresco and pink grapefruit, an interesting salad, especially with the addition of the grapefruit that gave a nice acidity to the dish.
The last dish was the smoked black cod with potato-chorizo vinaigrette. I loved the presentation, where the vinaigrette was poured in the middle of the plate and you had to dip the fish in it. It was the first time I had smoked cod and I found it superb, the smokiness adding a dimension to the fish that had a nice texture. And the sauce was pretty good, dominated by the grease of the chorizo that gave a nice color to it.
Last was dessert. Jodi was too full to try their corn ice cream sandwich and not so tempted, so we ended up with the chocolate mousse that was served with with goat milk raspado and chicory cold brew. The chocolate mousse itself was delicious and very chocolatey, but I did not really liked the raspado that is a Mexican ice.
Overall it was a good meal and I regret I was not more hungry to try their tacos. I would go back for that, their food being delicious, but it is definitely pricey...
Enjoy (I did)!
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Empellon Midtown - 510 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022