Empellón Cocina

Empellon Taqueria was definitely my white whale. I've tried to write a review about this place many times, but yet I've never able to. At one point in time, Empellon Taqueria was my closer. It was the place where I would take the bimbos I met when I was still in the dating scene. The relaxed vibe, ridiculous good food, and decent playlist always had someone naked in my apartment later that night. The problem was that many of these bimbos frowned up my duties as a food blogger. This meant no picture taking, no tweeting, no socializing with the staff to get some confidential info. No nothing. I was pretty much assed out. 

Fast forward a year later and the kid (me) is living the wife life. For months on end I would tell my girlfriend that I'd take her to Empellon for dinner, but the stigma that surrounded the place made me feel weird. Luckily, there was Empellon Cocina. I figured Cocina didn't carry the same stigma as the taqueria once did. Emepllon Cocina is located a few blocks from Taqueria, in the East Village. I knew I was in the right place because as I walked in Common's "GO!" was playing throughout the space, while people chattered and glasses clinked. We sipped on a classic margarita while we read the menu, this is what we got:

Chilaquiles Rojos ($13) - Poached duck egg, ramps. Strips of crispy tortillas, black beans, topped with a slow poached duck egg, crema, and crushed queso. Tons of flavors and textures happening all at once. And let's face it, anything with a fried egg over it makes it ten times better. 



The Guacamole and all 7 salsa's ($15) - Guacamole, pistachios. The Guacamole was extremely rich and deep and in texture, but not to the point where it was over done. Served alongside crispy masa chips, which had to be taken away from me so that I wouldn't fill up on them. 

The 7 Salsa's started with a salsa called "Sikil Pak" which was made up of pumpkin seeds, tomato, onion, garlic,cinnamon, epazote, sour orange juice, and serrano pepper which had a nice and mellow, sweet flavor to it. The last salsa, called "Salsa Habanera," made up of habenero, orange juice, grapefruit, and Mexican oregano had a nice mellow flavor at first, but then a nice tingle of heat hit my mouth. 

Chilled Shrimp ($16) - Sea urchin mousse, lettuce, masa waves. I didn't know if I wanted to eat this dish or hang it on my wall. The shrimp was tender, but a little dry until I mixed it around with the mousse - and then the hamster finally got back on the wheel, and I understood was happening. 

Lamb Tartare ($14) - Avocado leaf oil, pasilla oaxaquena, gauje seeds. Of all the dishes I had this was perhaps my least favorite. I felt the flavors were a little too flat, and what hit me was rather gamy. 

Squid ($17) - Chilmole, nugget potatoes, sour orange mayonnaise. Another work of art to the eye and to the palate. The squid and potatoes were tender in texture. The sour orange mayo gave the dish a nice touch of acid, with a hint of sour. Straight Banger. 

Carnitas ($24) - Onions, cilantro, salsa verde. If I had to explain this dish, it's kind of like getting smacked in a face with a bag of money, by a big breasted woman, while driving a Ferrari Enzo. The pork was perfectly cooked with bits of savory fat every few bites. The flavor reminded me of the pastrami from Katz's Deli. The fresh tortilla, which are served on the side of this dish, were warm and chewy. My favorite dish of the night, and maybe even of all 2014. 

So I finally caught my white whale, and fuck was it delicious. Empellon does a great job at sticking to the script of authentic Mexican food, while bringing a little refinement into the dinning experience.  Another thing I enjoy about Empellon is the chef, Alex Stupak. Once the head pastry chef at Wylie Dufresne's WD-50, Stupak set out to open a Mexican restaurant, with much controversy surrounding the opening. A straight up underdog, and I always root for the underdog. Chefs like Alex Stupak who cook foods from outside of their native backgrounds, and do it right, is what makes the New York City food scene so exciting and off the wall. If Empellon three (which is in the works as we speak) is anything like Empellon one and two, I might have to camp out for an opening day reservation. 

Empellón Cocina 
105 1st Avenue New York, NY 
212-780-0999


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