Empire Diner Outside
Posted on January 14, 2014 by

Review: Empire Diner – Delicious on Opening Weekend

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.

Empire DIner Inside

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.

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Posted on January 10, 2014 by

A Dream Hawker Centre Inspired by Bourdain Market

If you could put all your favorite foods in one place for everyone to enjoy, who would you want there? Anthony Bourdain’s making this dream a reality, as reported by Eater NY. Here’s how he put it:

I am indeed working on this project—carefully assembling a dream list of chefs, operators, street food and hawker legends from around the world—in hopes of bringing them together in one New York City space. As the greatest city in the world, I’ve long felt that we should have the kind of delicious, diverse food centers that Singapore ( for instance) enjoys. And, in fact, it is my hope that an important component of this project will be representatives of Straits hawker masters. My likes are pretty well known: dai pai dong in Hong Kong, Boqueria in Spain, hawker centers in Singapore, street tostadas in Ensenada. To the extent that I can help bring those things home to New York, along with a truly interesting collection of home grown innovators, I will be very, very pleased. If nothing else, I hope to soon be able to enjoy a really good Chicken Rice in NYC.

This got me thinking, if it were up to me, what would I put in this one awesome market?

I tried to pick things you could see being served in a hawker style environment. You’d also want some solid variety, giving you the option to eat guilty or eat healthy, local or exotic, and maybe something sweet too. Seeing as most places don’t serve full menus and probably should only do one thing really well, I selected one type of dish I think these folks do particularly well. Here’s how I would fill a 10-spot space:

1. Baos from Baohaus

Courtesy of The L Magazine

2. Hand-Ripped Noodles from Xi’an Famous Foods

From Xian Fine Foods

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Posted on December 18, 2013 by

Loving April Bloomfield on Mind of a Chef

Do you read Lucky Peach? Do you ever wish someone created a video version of it? PBS’ Mind of Chef is the answer to your prayers.

I’ve been hooked on the program since it featured 16 episodes of David Chang in Season 1 (check out Dave and Rene Redzepi above). I was a little bit apprehensive with a pair of new chefs becoming the focus of the program, but I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed Sean Brock and April Bloomfield especially.

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Posted on December 14, 2013 by

Review: Mission Cantina – Come for the Tacos, Come Back for the Rest

DEC 14, 2013 – Danny Bowien’s heavily anticipated follow-up to Mission Chinese Food could not have come at a better time. With his first NY restaurant under renovation until further notice, you can literally walk half a block north to Stanton and get your Mission fill at his new tacqueria. Naturally, it’s not a traditional Mexican restaurant, but that’s precisely the idea.


I dropped by on a Saturday night around 7:00pm expecting to wait a while for a table for 4. About three hours later, we were summoned back to the cantina to take our seats. Let this be a lesson to you — expect a significant wait for at least the next few months if you choose to come without a reservation. I believe their system is up now, so you’ll want to use that.

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Posted on December 4, 2013 by

NY Times Video: Wylie Dufresne’s Turkey Hash

Love when the NYT Dining & Wine section puts out these guest videos. I find you always learn a little trick while admiring a chef taking their time and doing something a little closer to what you might cook up at home.

There’s a series of great thanksgiving-themed videos posted a while ago in mid-November, many of which actually have very little to do with the traditional thanksgiving meal. The Wylie video up top was one of my favourites – definitely going to borrow the sherry trick along with the addition of some water to steam up garlic and onion, while keeping them from burning.

Check out Danny Bowien doing pastrami and April Bloomfield’s clam chowder’s below too…

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Posted on December 1, 2013 by

Review: Piora – Delicious But Not Yet Delivering

DEC 1,2013 – I’d finally moved into the city, got settled and built a place to talk restaurants. With all that out of the way, it was time to drop into somewhere new. The early word from Eater on Piora was relatively good, Pete Wells’ had provided his semi-endorsement and it was close to my new apartment. Here are my impressions.


We dropped by for dinner pretty late on a Friday and immediately noticed the dramatically lit garden backdrop. I don’t usually take much notice of the room, but as focal points go, this was one of the more impressive ones I’ve come across. OK, onto food and drink…

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