“People don’t eat dessert all that much anymore,” says Empellón’s Alex Stupak. And when they do, they want … fruit plates. For an ambitious kitchen, this can be “soul-crushing.” Rather than give in entirely to the fruit-plate barbarians, Stupak and pastry chef Justin Binnie came up with a rather elaborate compromise: a seasonally rotating showstopper that mimics a crushed-ice shellfish platter, designed to be eaten with your hands and priced per person. But first they set some ground rules: Fruit and sugar were okay, but no dairy or eggs. And it needed to combine natural and manipulated elements; otherwise it wasn’t a true dessert, by Stupak’s estimation. The plate launched with citrus, but the current iteration should hang around as long as its featured ingredient: Mountain Sweet Berry Farm’s Tristar strawberries, a day-neutral variety in season through October.
On the menu at Empellón; $7 per person; 510 Madison Ave., entrance on 53rd St.; 212-858-9365.
*This article appears in the September 4, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.