E, M at Fifth Ave.-53rd St.; B, D, F, M at 47th-50th Sts.-Rockefeller Center
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
42nd St. to 57th St., Park Ave. to Seventh Ave.
Closed for renovations.
We've seen this movie before: a slab of bacon; creamed spinach, maybe some mashed potatoes. Then, pow: Flintstone-size slabs of beef sizzling and bleeding on a metal plate. With Smith & Wollensky and Bobby Vans operating similar enterprises within blocks, it’s not clear what sets Empire apart, but basics are executed well. Cooked quickly at extreme temperatures, the porterhouse is the centerpiece, but other cuts, including the rib eye, are impressive. (Despite taking up half the menu, seafood remains beside the point.) Having learned from the masters at Peter Luger’s, a few employees and chefs left to open Ben and Jack’s steakhouse—that same crew spun off Empire in October of 2010. In doing so, they transplanted everything, from the beefsteak tomato salad to the perfectly classic ice cream sundae. All three restaurants are even supplied by the same distributor of Midwestern prime USDA. At dinnertime, the suburbanish dining room fills with suits from nearby offices. They pop the corks of a generally uninspired wine list that starts with a $59 Kendall Jackson and proceeds through mostly California reds till it gets to magnums of Opus One for $310. Given the size of the crowd, Empire’s addition to the midtown steakhouse coterie seems to be working.
Bacon, $3.95; porterhouse for two, $87.90; rib-eye, $43.95; ice cream sundae, $9.95