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The Early Word on Alex Stupak's Empellon Cocina

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Just 10 days ago, chef Alex Stupak opened Empellon Cocina, the more upscale sister restaurant to his Empellon Taqueria, in the East Village. According to the early word from Yelpers, bloggers, tweeters, and commenters, the menu of inventive and often modern small plates can be a bit pricey and service can be spotty, but the food is getting raves across the board. Here, listen to what early diners have to say about the first week:

The Rave: From the lone Menupages review: "This chef Alex Stupak is incredible! Super talented kid. Cocina is a beautifully designed and sexy restaurant in the East Village. Staff was inviting, warm, and knowledgable on the product. The menu has a lot to offer and the items we had (guac w/pistachios!, lobster tetilla queso fundido, avocado grains salad, manila clams, ribeye steak, and coc) were all AMAZING. Flavors were complex and memorable. Can't wait to go back soon." [Menupages]

The Bad Service, Great Food News: A Yelper has great food on Valentine's Day but bad service and a long wait: "We arrived at 9:15 for our 9:30 reservation, checked in with the hostess and waited at the bar...By the time we finished these drinks it was approaching 10 pm, a full 30 minutes after our reservation that we would have lost had we been 15 minutes late. Also, no one had approached me to discuss this situation or apologize for the delay, the hostess avoided my gaze and when i finally flagged her down she was pleasant and helpful and told me that we would be seated in 5 minutes or so. When we finally sat (10:05pm) I was just slightly turned off to the experience already before the meal even began...BUT then came the food. The food here was absolutely incredible. All 9 courses were expertly prepared, well-seasoned and delicious...The service was spotty to say the least, I didn't ever know who our main server was supposed to be, so I never knew who to direct my questions to, and there were many lapses, such as soup being delivered to our table when we had no silverware at all and I had to ask for spoons. Also at one point a dish was spicy and I realized that both my water and wine glasses were entirely empty and I had nothing to drink, and I again had to flag someone down to get more water and another glass of wine from the bottle we had purchased..." [Yelp]

The Great News: Another Yelper files a rave: "The Guac was amazing, especially with the crisps. We also loved - Mezcal Trout & King Crab, the lobster queso was by the far the best thing we ate, but close behind was the Smoked Ricotta - the brown sauce with it is delicious. For our meals we had the clams and pork ribs which were also great. Didn't have room for dessert, but they ones that were given to the table next to us looked incredible." [Yelp]

The Not Cheap but Good News: Per Beef Aficionado: "Opening night at Empellon Cocina. Smoky margaritas and smoked ricotta. A chunky guacamole laced with pistachios on masa crisps. Pork rib meat with white bean puree, masa balls and a salsa verde. Highlight is a beef rib eye cap (the spinalis dorsi muscle) with a dense menudo and crunchy puffed tendons. More cocktails in lieu of dessert. A most agreeable meal. Not cheap but worth it. Clean, vibrant and familiar flavors presented in a modern way - evocation and innovation. A very good start."

More Good News: An Eater commenter is an early fan: "Was there last night. Crickets for the first hour, then people started pouring in after 7 PM. Quite dark inside; needed cell phone illumination to read menu. Lovely mezcal-based cocktails by Matt Renslar. Food was quite good. The all-seeing blue cock at the bar was a real eye-catcher!" [Eater Comments]

The Mostly Excellent News: The Purple Passport also likes it: "The Manila clams came served in a bowl with the delicious sauce, and while they were well seasoned, they just didn’t feel particularly special. Same with the pork ribs; I’m glad I tried them, but I wouldn’t order them again. Why? Again, they just didn’t wow me. But that’s ok, because there were about 10 other dishes that had me intrigued and salivating (king crab with parsnip juice, crab flan and smoked cashew salsa, anyone??). And that’s what I liked about this restaurant – the combinations of flavors and ingredients got me thinking about what a bite of each dish would be like. It was a dining experience that tickled both my palate and my mind." [

The Twitastic News: Says @TheHungryTiger: "Ridiculously delicious meal @Empellon Cocina kicking off w/carrots." And @CandyNewYork: "@CandyNewYork: @empellon cocina's sweetbreads are ridiculously delicious." And @sbthac: "@Empellon Cocina. Excellent meal last night with my alum wife and family. Food was stellar!" And @letterbetty: "After @PeelsNYC, an unreal tasting of carne asado w/ crema parfait, king crab w/ cashew salsa, & sweetbreads @Empellon Cocina. #hungryfriday" And @LuckyPeach: "Just tried empellon cocina. Improbably delicious. Fun. Very inspired food. Haven't been that bowled over by a meal in a long time." [Twitter]

Short But Sweet News: The Foursquare tips so far: include "Lobster queso is amazing!" And "The Queso Fundido (melted cheese) with lobster and flour tortillas is to die for. Take it from a Mexicana wo likes to eat well." And "Get the lobster queso dish to split. Best. Thing. Ever." [Foursquare]


230 West 4th Street, New York, New York 10014

Empellon Cocina

105 First Avenue, New York, NY 10003 212 780 0909

Empellon Cocina

105 1st Ave., New York, NY

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