Chef and Iron Chef warrior Amanda Freitag will debut the relaunched Empire Diner tonight, and it looks very much like the "locavore diner" that was promised last year. Starters range between $8 and $12, and no entrée costs more than $21. Fearsome defenders of New York's most iconic recipes of all time may want to start reading here: Freitag and chef de cuisine Jeff Creager's menu abounds with tweaks and in-jokes. The Empire Diner–fied take on Grand Central Oyster Bar's iconic oyster pan roast has graduated to main-dish status, for example, and is served buffed out with pumpernickel bread and pork belly.
Elsewhere, skate wings get the Buffalo-sauce treatment; lox comes with burrata. Heresy! There's bone marrow melted in the matzo-ball soup, and the smoked whitefish salad makes the incredibly risqué move of tucking itself into a crêpe with fresh cucumbers and paprika vinaigrette, instead of beaching itself on an old-school bagel. Check out the menus, black-and-white cheesecake and all, below.
Empire Diner is currently open for dinner only; true to its greasy-spoon pedigree, plans are in the works for eventual 24-hour-a-day service.
Empire Diner, 210 Tenth Ave., at 22nd St.; 212-596-7523
Earlier: Amanda Freitag Takes Over Empire Diner Space in Chelsea