Empellón Cocina, New York City, 5/25/16

Exterior
Exterior

The Kitchen Table at Empellón Cocina got off to a rocky start as the early seating and supposedly shorter tasting went overtime and delayed our reservation 30 minutes. Chef Alex Stupak was in the house though, as you could see him talking with the table for 4 that faces the kitchen in the back of the restaurant, so it didn’t seem so bad to have time to look over the main restaurant’s menu. (I’ve included a photo of the front end’s menu as it looks good enough to come back for, none of it is part of the tasting menu.) Then when we finally get to take our seats, Chef greets us and promptly disappears for the rest of the evening.  

IMG_3283
interior, you can see The Kitchen Table in the back on the right, facing the kitchen

I understand there were some VIPs in the early group but it still is an odd choice to spend overtime with the less expensive grouping and abandon your main show.  Nevertheless we were left in a most capable chef’s hands for the evening along with a personable and friendly beverage manager, whose motto was “no glass goes empty” – so we got along great.  We did chose the pairings as the menu has some courses that would be difficult to pair a wine with and the pairings include tequila, mezcal, pilsner and wines.

good wall art!
good wall art!
Frankie looked over the regular menu
Frankie looked over the regular menu
regular drink menu
regular drink menu
A beer while we wait
A beer while we wait

 

We started with a mackerel sushi that had a good burn to it and left a good taste. It paired particularly well with tequila.

table set up
table set up
Chef Alex Stupak looks into the kitchen
Chef Alex Stupak looks into the kitchen
another kitchen shot
another kitchen shot
Mackerel Nigiri with salsa borracha
Mackerel Nigiri with salsa borracha
Frankie studied the chopsticks
Frankie studied the chopsticks

 

The turnip is actually served on a white plate that has been painted with chilmole then dried. The chilmole  is rehydrated when the moist vegetables get on it. The idea is to scrape some off and mix it in with the turnips.  A mild dish but fun to play with.

Turnip with chilmole and coconut crema
Turnip with chilmole and coconut crema
evidence of the white plate underneath
evidence of the white plate underneath
roasting pineapple
roasting pineapple

 

Natas is a clotted cream that was served with fresh chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in a nicely spicy dish that was simple but wonderful.

Natas with fresh garbanzo beans and black pepper
Natas with fresh garbanzo beans and black pepper

 

The gordita was filled with a white gooey cheese with a really crisp exterior. It was tasty but the corn essence was milder than I expected.

Gordita inflada with salsa verde mousse
Gordita inflada with salsa verde mousse
Frankie checks out the kitchen
Frankie checks out the kitchen

 

The avocado and crab was seasoned with chili and lime. It had a nice crunch but the avocado and crab were both mildly flavored.

Avocado with bread crumbs and crab
Avocado with bread crumbs and crab

 

The trout flauta with roe and green sauce was nice with a pleasant aftertaste.

Trout Flauta
Trout Flauta

 

The oyster was topped with corn which overshadowed the taste of the oyster, however I really enjoyed the burst of corn flavor.

Beau Soleil Oyster with nixtamalized popcorn kernels
Beau Soleil Oyster with nixtamalized popcorn kernels

 

The chicken wing was preceded with a passing of crispy grasshoppers. They are a grassy taste but very crisp. They were then worked into a salsa that topped the boneless chicken wing, which was also topped with guacamole.  A fun combination.

grasshopper container
grasshopper container
grasshoppers
grasshoppers
Chicken wing with salsa de chapulines and guacamole
Chicken wing with salsa de chapulines and guacamole
Frankie met the grasshopper
Frankie met the grasshopper

 

The sweetbread sandwich was really good. No one taste stood out, it all just blended together nicely.

Sweetbreads Milanesa Cemita
Sweetbreads Milanesa Cemita
Adriano, in charge of beverage pairings
Adriano, in charge of beverage pairings really did not let a glass grow dry

 

The scotch egg was a fried quail egg with a spicy mayo that was very tasty.

Scotch egg
Scotch egg
inside
inside
Frankie kept an eye on the beverage holder
Frankie kept an eye on the beverage holder

 

Salsa was a compilation of choices by the 4 of us at the table. We each picked some ingredients from a range of choices offered and then they were worked together and served with crispy corn chips. We chose roast garlic, roast onion, roasted tomatillo, lime to name a few. It turned our somewhat spicy but not as hot as I expected based on our choices.

preparations to make salsa
preparations to make salsa
adding choices
adding choices
mixing
mixing
Salsa: finished product and chips
Salsa: finished product and chips

IMG_3492

 

The quesadilla was stuffed with pork belly and cheese and was slightly spicy and tasty.

Quesadilla with chicharron and quelites
Quesadilla with chicharron and quelites
another view
another view
Frankie keeps watch
Frankie keeps watch

 

Next the pineapple that had been roasting on a spit in front of us was sliced and served. It had been basted with pork fat and spices. It was good.

carving the pineapple
carving the pineapple
Inverse al pastor
Inverse al pastor
Frankie met skull
Frankie met skull

 

The first dessert was sorbet of mole and sesame served on toasted sesame. It was really smooth and sweet.

start
start
add black mole
add black mole
add white sesame
add white sesame
Frankie checked it out
Frankie checked it out
Frankie gave paws up to this one
Frankie gave paws up to this one

 

Next was poblano and raspberry. A mild but good combination.

Sope with raspberry and mole poblano
Sope with raspberry and mole poblano

 

The chocolate was made up of a number of average components some of which made some unpleasant combinations.  This one didn’t sing.

Chocolate with vanilla, tamarind and prune
Chocolate with vanilla, tamarind and prune

 

It was followed with a rhubarb tres leches that was quite good. IMG_3596

Frankie checked out the inside
Frankie checked out the inside

 

We finished with a small watermelon that had been injected with mezcal. A fun idea but in my book it didn’t work as the flavors didn’t blend that well.

IMG_3611
pouring mezcal
Watermelon for last course
Watermelon for last course
Infused watermelon
Infused watermelon

 

chef that evening
Jason was our chef that evening
Frankie's new friend
Frankie’s new friend Adriano

One thought on “Empellón Cocina, New York City, 5/25/16

  1. We got an “I ate a bug” button when we ate a dried bug at a park. I guess you just got the bill when you ate the dried grasshoppers!

    Like

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