JAN 13, 2014 – I don’t know much about the history of the Empire Diner other than what Wikipedia tells me, but it appears to have been a mostly-beloved Chelsea institution that’s lived, died and been reborn a few times since it opened in the 40s. This time around, Amanda Freitag is breathing new life into the space more than three years after its doors last closed. It’s also a new start in Manhattan for Freitag, marking her return to the restaurant business after a hiatus that’s included a ton of TV that’s likely to pay dividends in the form of copious crowds of eager clientele.
The doors re-opened on January 7th, so a few days later I decided to check it out with a few friends on a Sunday night. Empire doesn’t currently take reservations, so we put our name down for dinner and fifteen minutes later were seated (don’t expect that to last). What follows is a rundown of our meal.