In a word, great! (and you will see based on the following review, I'm overly picky)
I usually wouldn't go to Empellon as a destination - I always enjoy the food, but never "blown away". These monthly tasting events change all of this based on my last meal here for "Oaxaca" month.
(This review is a few weeks late and as such, some of the details may be slightly unclear. Hopefully, I'll capture the overall vibe well enough to encourage the masses to give the next dinner a try)
So, Stupak is hosting monthly, region specific tasting dinners with 6 courses w/ wine pairings (or non alcoholic pairings) for $75, a steal INHO after attending. I don't have the wine pairings handy, though it was lighter on the wine and heavier on mezcal, sherry and the like.
1. MEZCAL CURED OCEAN TROUT WITH TROUT ROE AND SAL DE RUSANOS 5/5
Really well balanced. The smokiness of the mezcal cured trout, combined with the briny trout roe, was a perfect combination - the strong flavors really elevated the fish to the next level. A brilliant start.
2. DUCK EGG WITH SWEET POTATO AND HOJA SANTA LEAF 4.5/5
A lesson in umami, I could have eaten this all day. Granted, I am a sucker for egg based dishes but to have the oozing yolk combined with the textural components of the sweet potato (and an additional, undisclosed "crunchy" component), the flavors were spot on and everybody licked their plates clean.
3. FROG LEGS WITH ALUBIA BLANCA BEANS AND MOLE VERDE 3.75/5
My least favorite dish of the night, not because it tasted bad, but because I don't see the allure in frog legs. While I always order sweetbreads and frog legs when available, I am usually disappointed in the overall execution. In relative terms, the frog legs were tasty, and the dish was bettered by the white beans and verde combination, which had a nice kick to it. The dish was screaming for a bit more balance in the mole verde sauce though, as it felt a little too acidic, especially with the wine pairing. A more balanced verde sauce....and a different protein (for me)....and this is a slam dunk.
4. WILD BOAR WITH TAMALES DE CAMBRAY 4.5/5
We were presented with a beautiful wild boar pork chop with an incredible layer of fat that we were advised to eat (and eat, we did!) The flavors of the pork chop were incredible - and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the fat- and it was paired with a beautiful tamale bursting with herbs and flavor. The two components didn't compete with one another but rather, combined to form a cohesive dish. A nice portion of both too, considering the high quality and price point
5. GUAVA CHEESE CAKE WITH ROSE PETAL SORBET 4.5 / 5
I can't comment on its authenticity but I'll be candid. This was awesome. The textures of the cheese cake combined with the rose petal sorbet (which was surprisingly flavorful) was fantastic. As someone who does not usually enjoy cheesecake, this was a great surprise.
6. CREPAS DE CAJETA WITH WALNUT ICE CREAM
It wasn't bad - I actually really enjoyed the walnut ice cream though my wife didn't care for it. I just don't think it hit on all cylinders like the dish prior.
All in all, I think the food was top notch, the menu interesting, and the flavors bold and fun. For $75, this may be one of the best deals in NYC, especially if he continues to keep it fresh and new each month.
Get on the mailing list and go next month!
230 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014