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Empire Steakhouse East

Empire Steakhouse East overall score: 85

The Empire Steakhouse empire just opened a midtown east location.


My friend Matt was asked in for a press meal and he graciously invited me to tag along. We were able to try a bunch of stuff with our group, so I will get right to it.

Flavor: 9
We tried two cuts: the tomahawk rib eye, and the “Emperor’s cut,” which is a T-bone steak from the rear portion of the animal that has a much larger tenderloin side. I’m not quite sure how this is different than a porterhouse, unless what they offer as a porterhouse is more accurately described as a T-bone, which generally has a smaller tenderloin side.


As you can see above, it looks a bit overcooked. With such a large hunk of beef, that is always a concern. Pair that with the hot plate presentation and some graying of meat is bound to happen. Much of the cut was fine, however, and the large tenderloin was very flavorful. The sirloin side was a little tougher, but this was a welcome texture change from the super soft tenderloin side. Flavors were very meaty, there was a great sear on the outside with a good crust, and the steak was well seasoned. In any case, I’ve decided to also include this cut on my porterhouse page even though it is also on the “other cuts” page as a T-bone. I feel like some diners may expect this was a porterhouse. I do, however, think the price tag on it is a bit hefty when compared to their porterhouse for two. I’m curious about the porterhouse and why it is so much cheaper that this cut. Is the porterhouse on the menu actually a T-Bone, which would mean that the emperor cut is actually the true porterhouse? 8/10.

The tomahawk rib eye was by far the better steak at 9/10. There was a good amount of funk to it, likely from the aging process, and it was cooked perfectly to the specified medium rare. The fat cap was a good size too, as you can see from the up-turned slice below. There is almost an equal portion of eye as there is cap.




Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
All of the major cuts are prime and/or dry aged. The quality here is definitely a cut above (knee-slap). There are many sizes of porterhouse, multiple versions of the rib steak, several filets and even some off-cuts like the T-bone. In addition they offer A5 grade Kobe Wagyu filet and rib eye, imported from Japan.

Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portions here are all fairly large, and plating is simple, without too much flourish. For some items, however, they do make a solid attempt at beauty. The seafood platter, for example, is gorgeous (see below). And all plates were cleaned and wiped of any splash before coming out to the table.

Price: 9
Menu prices seem to be pretty good. There are some items that are very fairly priced, like a porterhouse for two for $96. I think the tomahawk steak ($65), and the emperor’s steak for two ($120) are a bit steep, but there are other alternatives. For example, if you want a rib eye you can choose the regular bone-in at $49, which is under the average price point for midtown steak joints. The porterhouse might be a cheaper alternative to the emperor’s steak, but, like I said above, if you’re all about the tenderloin, then that emperor’s cut might make more sense. The cool thing here is that you are getting great quality for that price either way.

Bar: 8
The bar area is pretty nice. It’s not huge, but it makes the best of the space, with street-side high tops and large door-sized windows that open out to the sidewalk. The bar has a good selection of single malts as well, and they make a good martini.


Specials and Other Meats: 8
There were no specials read to us, but this place does offer a fair amount of alternative meats, like lamb, veal and chicken. I didn’t notice any pork other than our bacon app. We tried the rack of lamb. This shit rivaled the beef. It was super flavorful, really well seasoned and perfectly cooked.


Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7
I’ll just fire these off quick. First the seafood platter. I was a little bummed that there were no clams, oysters or mussels. Also, the lobster was completely flavorless, as were the shrimp. That was probably the only thing lacking in this meal, and that’s what is dragging down the score here. But the lump crab meat was absolutely delicious. No lack of flavor there. Also, it was beautiful when it came out to the table.



As you can see we also tried the Canadian bacon. This was great. I highly recommend this when you come here, as there are very few other bacon apps that are quite as good. Pictured below is just a half of one slice (we ordered two slices to share among four people).


We also tried the creamed spinach and truffle mac & cheese. Both were excellent. In fact I was wishing I wasn’t so full on meat, because I wanted more of that mac & cheese!


Last, we also had some onion rings. These were lightly battered on the outside, tender on the inside, and lightly seasoned. We all liked them a lot.


For dessert, we shared an apple strudel and a slice of chocolate mousse cake. Both were amazing. The chocolate mousse cake was light and fluffy, not overly sweet, and had a really nice oreo cookie crust on it. Delicious.


The strudel was even better, in my opinion. The flaky dough was crisp but not hard, so you could eat it with a fork without having bits of crust shatter and fly all over the table. The apples had a nice hint of cinnamon and nutmeg to them. Just perfect.


Seafood Selection: 6
There’s a shitload of fish to choose from here, but from the small amount we had (shellfish app) I am concerned. That lobster and those shrimp… so disappointing. But entree fish is a whole different ballgame. Bass, salmon, sole, tuna, crab cakes, shrimp, scallops and lobster (up to 4lbs) are all on the hot menu here. Since I didn’t try any, I can’t really opine on anything except for the shrimp, lobster and crab meat from the appetizer. Giving the benefit of the doubt for the actual fish, I have split the baby here with a 6/10.


Service: 10
Impeccable. The guys here really know their cuts, and they are super attentive without being in your face. They were very patient with our photo-taking as well. HAHA! I may as well mention the bread and sauce here too. Same as the other location, they serve up nice warm onion bread rolls, and the steak sauce is pretty good!



Ambiance: 10
This place is absolutely gorgeous inside. There’s a beautiful spiral staircase just past the bar that goes up to what I assume is a private dining area. There’s also a nice back room with a long “last supper” style table for somewhat isolated large groups, with a large screen TV that plays a digital fireplace video. And beautifully upholstered booths and elegant tables are arranged under what has to be a 25ft ceiling in the main dining room. The back wall has a glass, temperature-controlled wine shelf that goes from floor to ceiling.



You may have noticed a portion of a burger in one of my shots above. Well, when you’re eating with one of the guys from the Gotham Burger Social Club, you fucking try a burger.

Special thanks to Jill for taking this great shot of the guys:


Anyway here’s the burger:


This baby was juicy as fuck. I thought the patty might be too big at a full pound, but I was wrong. It didn’t overwhelm the bun or build up too high, somehow. The inside was cooked somewhere between rare and medium rare.


There was a great beefy, full flavor to it, as it is Kobe quality. We went with a mild cheese, Swiss, that wouldn’t overpower the meat flavors. This was really fucking good. At $37 (with fries and toppings) I guess it better be! They also offer a standard burger at the bar for $17.

To sum up, this place edges out the other location by a point, and has better marks for flavor, but it may end up being a bigger spread if I ever get back in to try a seafood entree. That section definitely has some wiggle room.

151 E 50th St
New York, NY 10022

Empire Diner


Chef Amanda Freitag’s upscale diner (which I like to refer to as a “finer”) really delivers some solid menu items. My wife and I popped in for lunch when it was crowded and took a comfortable seat at the large, old fashioned art-deco inspired bar area.

empire diner interior

empire diner eat

We started with some cocktails. I had a jalapeño bloody Mary, and my wife had a riff on the Pimm’s Cup cocktail. Both were masterfully mixed. Look at the size of the basil floating in my wife’s drink! It was a mutant leaf.

empire diner drinks

Our meal came out a bit backwards, as the pop tarts arrived first, and we sort of assumed they were more of a dessert item. I guess they are there for the brunch menu. They were filled with apricot jam and had a nice, light texture to the strudel-style dough pocket. Very nice, and actually kind of filling for only $6 a pair.

empire diner pop tart 1

empire diner pop tart 2

I had the burger. This is a top contender. It comes garnished with red onion, cheddar cheese, pickles and a Big Mac style special sauce. Really tasty, and the gooey cheese is enough to solve any problems in the event your patty comes out cooked too much. At first, I thought mine was a little beyond medium, but it was fine once I got into the center a bit more. The bun is brioche style, but it isn’t flaky or weak. I prefer a potato bun, but this was fine.

empire diner burger 1

empire diner burger cut

This is a great buy at $13, because you get the salt and pepper fries in a pretty good portion size on the side as well. And let me just say: these fries were fucking amazing.

empire diner fries

My wife ordered the fish and chips. The portion size was pretty large, although her plate came with less fries than my burger plate. The fish was a large single piece that was enveloped in a really nice batter. My wife referred to it as “fish Wellington.” The fish itself was a cod; nice and flaky, and perfectly cooked.

empire diner fish chips

Empire Steakhouse (54th)

Empire Steakhouse (54th) overall score: 84

This joint is right near my apartment, so it was just a matter of time before I wandered in. I’d been to the other Empire location a while back. It was okay; room for improvement there, but I still wanted to try this other location. I went with my wife for a quick dinner. Check it out:

Flavor: 8
I had the bone-in rib eye. It had a great sear and crust on the outside, and it was cooked to a nice medium-rare on the inside. There was not one drop of bleed-out, as the steak was properly rested before it was served. Aside from a bit of gristle in one spot, this was a great cut of beef. Better than the other location (which is now closed).



Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
Empire covers the basics in a plentiful way. They offer porterhouse for two, three, or four; ribeye; filet; strip; and even prime rib. To top it off there are veal and lamb chops too.

Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portions here are average to good. The creamed spinach is enough for two to share at $11. Even the creme brûlée dessert is probably big enough to share. At 22-24oz, the steak is a good size too.

Price: 8
Great prices here. Our bill was just over $100 because my wife didn’t have much of an appetite.


Bar: 10
This is a great bar to hang out in. The bar room itself is beautiful, but not only is the atmosphere cool, but they have over 400 different bottles of wine and over 100 different single malt scotches – not to mention a serious bourbon and cognac selection.




Specials and Other Meats: 9
The great thing about this place is their pre-dinner price fix menu. At $49 you get a soup or salad to start, then either a filet or strip with crab cake or grilled shrimp, a side of either broccoli or mashed potatoes, and dessert. Awesome. I will definitely be back here for that deal.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7
Unfortunately, the chilled seafood platter missed the mark for us. The shrimp and lobster portions of the dish were just really bland and lacking in flavor. The lump crabmeat was excellent though. I noted the same problem in the review of the other location as well.


I had to drown it in their steak sauce to get some enjoyment out of it.


The creamed spinach was really good. It may have been a bit too salty, but I didn’t necessarily mind too much.


This creme brûlée is the best in the city. I’m serious. I’ve had them all over the place, and this shit was perfect. So creamy and light. Amazing texture and flavor, and just the right amount of broiled sugar on top.


Seafood Selection: 8
Aside from the chilled shellfish platter, I really can’t make an assessment on this here. The shrimp and lobster cocktail in that shellfish tower were just no good. Not rancid or “bad,” they just had no flavor whatsoever. It is my hope that, based on the greatness of the lump crabmeat, some of the other seafood selections are better. I recall liking the oysters a lot at the other location, so there’s that.

Service: 10
Our waiter, Tim, was awesome. We got to talking about cameras and photography when he noticed my camera, which he is currently in the market to get for himself. The rest of the staff were all very courteous and kind, and the service was FAST! We got our meal very quickly, and the servers were very happy to refill our plates with spinach and/or shellfish from the tower when we ran low. Decent bread basket, though not warm.


Ambiance: 7
This place was a little stale for me. I did like their private dining room, and loved the front of the house and bar, but the main dining hall was just lacking a little oomph for me. That said, does it really matter, as long as the food is good?



237 W. 54th St.
New York, NY 10019

Empire Steakhouse

Empire Steakhouse overall score: 77

On a whim my wife and I decided to give this place a try since it was right near work. Empire is run by former Luger’s and Ben & Jack’s staff, so you know there is clout behind what they do.
Flavor: 7
I had the ribeye, as usual. It was pretty tasty, but there were some quality issues that caused a slight decrease in flavor. See below for full details on that. As for flavor, it had a nice smoky, charred taste, which was enjoyable. It was nicely seasoned too, and cooked/rested correctly. They have a proprietary steak sauce on the table, but I didn’t dig it. It tasted like ketchup and horseradish (cocktail sauce).
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7
Empire covers the basics in a plentiful way. They offer porterhouse for two, three, or four; ribeye; filet; strip; and even prime rib. To top it off there are veal and lamb chops too. The issue is that my particular cut was sub par. There was a good deal of inedible gristle and fat on it that didn’t melt away, and some spots were chewy. I’d guess about 3-4oz. worth was inedible. Also, the bone on it was rather big. Normally I don’t mind that one bit, but this time it took up a good amount of the ounce-age of the steak, so the edible portion size (taking bone and gristle into consideration) ended up on the small size even though it probably clocked in at around 20oz total weight. Maybe I was able to eat 12oz of it?
Portion Size & Plating: 7
For the steak, part of this relates back to the above comments: “There was a good deal of inedible gristle and fat on it that didn’t melt away. I’d guess about 3-4oz worth was inedible. Also, the bone on it was rather big. Normally I don’t mind that one bit, but this time it took up a good amount of the ounce-age of the steak, so the edible portion size (taking bone and gristle into consideration) ended up on the small size even though it probably clocked in at around 20oz total weight. Maybe I was able to eat 12oz of it?” The steak for multiples comes out pre-sliced on a sizzling platter, just like the assholes at Luger’s do, and just like the dunces at Mark Joseph do. I personally HATE this method of serving, because the meat bleeds out and becomes dry, and often it isn’t cooked properly. Anyone who is into steak knows that a steak should be rested before it is cut, not sizzling on a God-damned hot plate like a fucking steak fajita at TGI Fridays (by the way – fajita meats steak in Spanish… so steak fajita is the equivalent of saying “steak steak”). I understand the presentation is fun this way, but guys… come on… you are fucking up the meat! The creamed spinach, bacon slabs and creme brulee were the right sizes, but the oyster app was $14 for six pieces (see price section below), and the chilled seafood platter only had two shrimp, a fist full of lump crab meat, and a small lobster. To top it off, the shrimp and lobster on the seafood platter were utterly flavorless. The crab meat on it, however, was great.
Price: 7
The price wasn’t too bad considering we had a full meal in a NYC steakhouse. The total bill with tax and tip included came to about $175. The ribeye was $43, the seafood platter was $27, bacon by the slice was $4, and martinis were $13. As I mentioned above, however, the oysters were a little pricey, the steak was not the best cut, and the seafood platter was a bit lacking; so you pay a little less because you are getting a little less I suppose. 
Bar: 7
The bar is small but neat, modern and clean. The martini was a little heavier on the vermouth than I normally like, but they did have raspberry caipirinhas for the wifey to sip on. The best part about the bar was the free home made potato chips that tasted like steak meat.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
Empire has a prime rib for people who are too puss-cake for the ribeye. They also have lamb and veal chops to round out their selection of carnivorous delights. On special there was… nothing! Oh well. Not that big of a deal.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
My wife had the seafood platter for her entree, and that was flavorless in the two shrimp and small lobster section, but great for the lump crab meat portion. The oysters were creamy, crisp, cold  and fresh, but they were over priced. We also had the bacon slabs, which were “Canadian” style and tasted a bit more like ham than real bacon, but it was still yummy. On the side, we had creamed spinach, which was really great – almost exactly the same as Wolfgang’s, which are my favorite (retained the spinach flavor, not too salty, not heavy, yet still creamy). For dessert we had creme brulee, which was basic and standard… and good! I love me some creme brulee! 
Seafood Selection: 9
Empire has a really fantastic selection for seafood. For entrees they have sea bass, salmon, tuna, sole, lobster, crab cakes, and shrimp dishes. For apps they have the usual lump crab meat, crab cakes, lobster cocktail, shrimp cocktail, clams, oysters, baked clams, fried calamari, and a seafood platter. Excellent. From what we tried, however, we were only half pleased (loved the oysters and crab meat, didn’t like the shrimp and lobster so much), so I took a point for that.
Service: 9
Our waiter was a little aloof and quiet, but I don’t mind that so much. One of the other waiters actually had the courtesy to apologize to my wife when the group he was seating bumped into her twice, HARD, without even acknowledging the mishap. That was nice of him. The waiters all have red vests with bow ties on top of white tux shirts, all male. The bread basket was the same exact basket from Wolfgang’s: fennel and salt loaf, nice rigid french bread, and some poppy and onion rolls. Unfortunately one of the waiters knocked the french bread out of the basket when he was setting up our oysters. My wife likes French bread, so that was more her loss than mine.
Ambiance: 8
As mentioned above, the waiters all have red vests with bow ties on top of white tux shirts, and they’re all male. The decor is elegant and modern, but not over the top. Everything is neat and clean, including the bathroom, which had nice off-white marble tiles all over. It was a single person toilet with thick paper towels set upon the marble counter tops.

36 W. 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019