An oozing grilled cheese. A short stack swimming in syrup. Disco fries. Is there anything better than a good old-fashioned diner? How about one with a Food Network star chef behind the deep fryer?
Get to know the new, ridiculously improved Empire Diner.
The Chelsea spot, which closed in 2010 and reopened this week, revitalized not only its signature retro look (honeycomb-tile floors, channel-back booths, chrome for days) but also the entire concept of diner food. Chopped judge Amanda Freitag added marrow bone to her matzoh ball soup, swapped pork belly for bacon in her BLTs (our personal favorite), paired her lox with burrata and substituted crispy skate in her buffalo “wings.” But don’t worry, she did keep a few greasy-spoon standards--patty melts, omelets, chili fries and the like--intact.
Also in keeping with short-order tradition, Empire Diner will not take reservations (you’ve been warned...it’s gonna be packed), though it does have plans to eventually operate 24/7 (fingers crossed, in time for sidewalk dining this spring). But honestly, whenever we can dig our forks into a bowl of black-truffle, orzo mac and cheese again is perfectly fine with our schedule.
Empire Diner, 210 Tenth Ave. (between 22nd and 23rd sts.); 212-596-7523 or empire-diner.com