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Empellon Cocina Closed for a Revamp as Alex Stupak Develops 18-Course Tasting Menu

The menu and the new Cocina debut April 28.

Daniel Krieger

Empellon Cocina, the least casual of Alex Stupak's three Manhattan Mexican restaurants, is closed right now, and East Village passersby will note that the windows are papered over. But this, Grub Street reports, is only temporary. Stupak is currently sprucing up the three-year-old restaurant in ways he doesn't specify, but promises will make the space " feel a lot lighter, warmer, and friendlier."

For the next couple weeks, while that sprucing up is under way, the former wd~50 pastry chef turned Mexican food nerd will also be developing a brand new tasting menu, which he'll debut when Cocina reopens on April 28. It promises to clock in at around 18 courses, most of which, Stupak says, will be "eaten with the hands." Those courses will include things like trout skin flautas, and masa waffles topped with smoked maple syrup, chicken liver butter, and cured, grated chicken live. No word on how much it will cost, but Eater is on the case. In all likelihood, it won't be cheap.

Stupak has been serving a dessert tasting menu at the restaurant for about a year now, and over the years has served the occasional tasting menu through Push Project, his series of collaborative dinners with chefs like Grant Achatz. But this will be the first time he's offered a regular tasting menu at any of his restaurants. In fact, Stupak once told Eater's own Ryan Sutton that, though he had toyed with the idea of doing a tasting menu at Cocina early on, he had nixed the idea because "A real fine dining concept would have been wrong here. Service would be poor and overtaxed and costs would be repellent. I wanted this to be a place that the neighborhood would embrace."

Clearly, he's had something of a change of heart. But he will still serve an a la carte menu (which is also being revamped), and he plans to start the tasting menu off really slow, serving it to just one table a night. Only if things go well will he consider offering it to more.

Empellon Cocina

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