Recently Opened Restaurants
by Julie Besonen, 02/05/2014
Photo: Daniel Krieger
210 Tenth Ave., 212-596-7523, Chelsea, Manhattan
Yes, it's a diner, but it's the type where you can check your coat, upgrade to sparkling water and use a cloth napkin to dab your lips after an overenthusiastic sip of a cocktail. Chef and co-owner Amanda Freitag, who's headed up the back of the house at the Harrison and starred in front of the camera on the Food Network (Chopped, The Next Iron Chef), gets the revival of Chelsea's Empire Diner utterly right. The art deco space is shiny and the modern American food delectable and healthy. But not in-your-face healthy—the fat, very good burger comes with fries and the fluffy buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup. Less questionable choices are to be found in the selection of seasonal vegetable sides like brussels sprouts with chili jam and charred broccoli with pecorino romano and toasted garlic chips. One of the most clever inventions is buffalo skate wings, the flesh coated in hot sauce and folded over garlands of carrot and celery. Right now the Empire Diner is only open for dinner, but as time moves on look for lunch, brunch and eventually, as befits a classic New York City diner, the ability to dine there 24 hours a day.