Dessert-loving New York Times critic Pete Wells files this week on Empellon Midtown, Alex Stupak’s brightest and biggest project yet. And like some of the best meals, the review begins with dessert. Wells’ hot take: “To begin at the end, the desserts at the new Empellon in Midtown are some of the most exciting New York has seen in a long time.”
Wells gushes about them, finding one more enjoyable than another. Here is the critic on his favorite dessert from the bunch:
One of the desserts is a frozen parfait that looks like half an avocado on a snowy bed of ice. The illusion is almost perfect, with tones of green that fade from the near black of the peel to a grassy pale color in the divot where the pit should go. The mimicry isn’t just visual. The parfait is as creamy and smooth as the flesh of an avocado left on the counter for four days. But of course it’s sweeter and tastes of butterfat, so it’s a relief when the ice crystals melt on your tongue into a bright limeade. Under the ice is yogurt infused with eucalyptus. Although making all this can’t possibly be simple, the flavors are, and they’re wonderfully balanced.
Eventually Wells gets to the savory dishes, remembering favorites like oyster shooters, crab nachos, pork belly, and short rib confit. But tacos, a dish Wells would have hoped Stupak might have mastered by now, fall flat. He explains: “You can write off the tacos completely, and what’s left is still a very enjoyable restaurant.” Heck, his favorite taco is the dessert version that’s a waffle cone folded into the shape of a hard-shell tortilla, stuffed with ice cream flavored by corn and salt. Three stars.