Saturday, January 12, 2013

Empellon Cocina

Empellon Cucino is Alex Stupak's trendy new(ish) spot on 1st Ave in the East Village. Like his Taqueria in the West Village, it is also Mexican food, this time with a more modern, fushion-y twist. The room is sexy and dark, the decor modern and fun, and the drinks spicy and strong. There was a "cool vibe" there on Wednesday night when I met my friend for a girl's night, and the place was filled with young trendy people that looked like they were having a good time.

Empellon has been written up about by so many blogs and magazines as one of the best new spots of 2012, so even though I didn't love my experience at Taqueria, I figured I'd give it a shot. 
Overall I was underwhelmed. I didn't find it to be anything spectacular, and didn't try anything that I liked enough to warrant another trip here. This is where I should probably add the disclaimer that without sampling any meat or shellfish, you are about to read a pretty subjective review. To the restaurant's credit, Empellon was accommodating to our special food restrictions, but we just were not blown away by any of it.

We started with Margaritas and Guacamole, which comes with sliced pistachios, thinly sliced japalepenos and crispy masa crisps. I've heard people rave about the guac here, but I'm not sure why. I would have preferred it a little spicier (they didn't ask how we like it), and the chips were on the greasy side.
We also had the Roasted Carrots with mole poblano, yogurt, and watercress salad. It was okay. It didn't have enough flavor, and just seemed a little weird. Go to ABC Kitchen for sick roasted carrots. Next we got Melted Tetilla Cheese with wild mushrooms. The cheese was flavorful but the dish was really heavy. After a few bites each, we'd had enough.

The Red Snapper tacos were also underwhelming. It comes with 2 tiny tacos that had a nice kick to them, but you could barely taste the fish. Lastly, the chef made us a Mushroom Risotto that I was pretty psyched for, but fell short in my book. It was really smoky, but not in a good way. Again we each took a few bites and had enough.
We ended the meal with 2 desserts as we were still kinda hungry at this point, and I had just finished telling my friend about the amazing dessert tasting I once had at WD-50. We got a chocolate cake with globs of peanut butter (?), and a fruity tasting flan. They were both just okay. 
Empellon is a cool sexy place to grab some margaritas 
and guacamole if you are in the East Village, but it certainly was not one of my favorites of the year. Maybe the meat dishes would have blown us away, who knows?
The service was friendly if not particularly helpful, and I did like the space better than Taqueria,  it just did not live up to the hype. 

Neighborhood: East Village

Bite Mark: **

Good For: Drinks, Date Spot

Empellon Cocina, 105 1st Ave between 6th and 7th 212-80-0999