A few weeks ago, Bitches Who Brunch had our quarterly meeting to catch up on all things Bitch Biz and the very exciting enhancements we have in our pipeline. Us NYC gals thought it was only appropriate to couple this meeting with a dinner to catch up on all things not Bitches Who Brunch.
Empire Diner stuck out immediately in my mind, for both the recent hype about its revamp and opening, and its menu offering breakfast for dinner. Typically, we don’t post dinner reviews, but I think we can all agree that an exception is in order. After all, brunch can be brunch any hour of the day, especially in NYC.
From 10th Avenue, Empire Diner looks like the same iconic railroad dining car you’d recognize from many movies and TV shows in the 90’s. This place is quintessential New York City, sans the seediness and greasiness of your archetypal diner.
Drinks were definitely in order after a quick glance at the cocktail menu and the friendly persuasion of our fun waiter. I selected the Jane St, unable to say no to tequila and ginger, my two favorite cocktail flavors. It was wonderful and made me quickly realize this wasn’t any old diner.
We started with the feta sticks, which were a jazzed up version of the mozzarella stick we all grew up loving. Served with crispy feta, honey, and black mission figs, this was a true starter standout.
Next we selected the deconstructed everything bagel with lox. This version, dubbed the Lox & Burrata, was served with an everything bagel crisp, a mound of decadent burrata and was crowned with silky, house-cured salmon. It was one of the most interesting spins on a New York classic I’ve ever had, and I was pleased that my favorite flavors weren’t compromised in the innovation.
To balance things out for our followers who love a good lunch brunch, we ordered the burger, which was served on brioche with special sauce, cheddar cheese, pickle, onion, and lettuce. It was succulent, juice-dripping, and delicious.
We had to order the buttermilk pancakes, being that we were in a diner, which were served with maple syrup and a delicious blueberry compote. They were fluffy and light in consistency, which worked well paired with the sweet topping. Overall, these were good, but nothing special.
Next, we ordered the omelette with fine herbs, creme fraiche, and brioche toast to balance out the dinner brunch, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the toast tasted like a miniature French toast! It was my favorite part of the dish. The omelette was simple, which I appreciated after the heavier entrees, and was enhanced by the creme fraiche.
Even after our monster of a meal, we eyed with longing the dessert menu written on chalkboard above us. Hot doughnut holes with salted caramel dip sounded like a no-brainer and seemed like the easiest dessert to share with the group. They were sugar dusted and still hot from the fryer, and literally dissolved in our mouths. This is a must order.
Overall, we really enjoyed our experience at Empire Diner. The cocktails were perfect for a girls night out, the brunch items were all delicious and just enough different from the standard to be remembered, the atmosphere was fun and our service was noteworthy.
The Bitches say A-. Empire Diner serves augmented classic diner food with a fancy twist, and we appreciated both the riffs on classics and the basics.
210 10th Avenue
Empire Diner serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.