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EMP lunch review (short)

I had lunch at EMP on Wednesday, Nov. 14. I had a similar experience to Tubulus (although his was dinner). I won't go into the menu so as not to ruin the surprise for anyone, but I share Tubulus' thoughts re: parsnip and salsify courses. We were also allowed a choice between beef and duck, and chose the beef because we had the duck on a previous visit in 2011. I thought the entire experience was wonderful and fun, with lovely touches like a card thanking us for making EMP our Christmas present (it was).

A few things I noticed:

There were more than a few open tables during the lunch service. I thought this was odd, but maybe it was intentional.

Not everyone gets invited to the kitchen for the cocktail, as another poster observed. Not sure how they decide who gets to go for this.

We did the wine pairing - in retrospect, I wished we had either shared the pairing or simply ordered a bottle of champagne. The wines were great, but were all whites except for one. Not our favorite.

I know that EMP scaled back on the narrative after the negative feedback they got, and even though I voiced a desire to hear it, the narrative was minimal. But still a fun, NYC type experience.

The apple brandy or whatever it is they leave on the table at the end is AWFUL. Just objectively awful. What happened to congac?!

I agree with posters who suggested that it is a transcendent experience, but "how many times can you see that show?" and so forth. The meal was the most expensive of my life. As much as I loved it, I don't see myself going back there on my annual trips to NYC unless they bring back the 2-course lunch menu or something.

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  1. I forgot to add that we were given the granola, a copy of the menu, a deck of EMP playing cards, and EMP Christmas ornaments as parting gifts.

    1. pizzjunkie,

      Thanks for the report. I don't recall having any apple brandy at the end--sorry to hear about that (perhaps this is due to having never done the wine pairings). I've been invited in to the kitchen for a cocktail about half of the times I've been in the past year or so. It's really random as far as I've observed. Kind of off-putting. What are the hazy qualifications for this kitchen visit? I wish that they'd either make it an established part of the dining experience, or a rare treat for people who are celebrating (of course, this would make rare at about 20-30%, I'm guessing).

      I also noticed a notable emptiness to the dining room last lunch visit. In fact, about half of my side of the dining room went unseated during the duration of the lunch service. Curious.

      Like you, I long for the EMP of old, so I think that likewise, a trip to The NoMad is in order for you.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ramenbound

        Before the latest menu change, I had the cognac presented at my table, and we didn't order wine pairings (usually only cocktails).

        1. re: ramenbound

          ramenbound - I think you're right! ;) So weird that it was so empty when you had lunch there, too.

        2. It's apple brandy but younger/unaged and specially made for EMP by St George spirits from California. Closer to an eau de vie I've heard.

          7 Replies
            1. re: Spiritchaser

              Spiritchaser - I know from reading your posts that my palate is not nearly as sophisticated as yours!

              1. re: pizzajunkie

                Ha ha, you are too funny pj. I do have to agree with those that say it is a bit "unrefined" (not my words) but that's why I like it so much, one of my favorite things is grappa at the Mom and Pop vineyards/farms in Italy, you could run a car with the stuff but it's so genuine.

                1. re: Spiritchaser

                  LOL Spiritchaser! I thought it did taste similar to grappa, which I also dislike. Oh well!

            2. re: kathryn

              I think I remember our server saying this - I really wanted to like it!

              1. re: pizzajunkie

                Now that I think about it, prior to the menu change, I'd had both cognac and a pear eau de vie (separate occasions) left on the table, so I wonder if the eau de vie is a seasonal thing?

                Re: the wine pairings—should you do them again, definitely feel free to guide them a little. If you don't prefer whites, you should have told them so. Last time, we made it very clear that we wanted beer and cocktails interspersed with our wines and they executed flawlessly.

                1. re: loratliff

                  loratliff, I'm sure you're right. We did mention a few times that we were not fans of white wine (except for bubbly). I accept responsibility for failing to ask about the wines before committing to the wine pairing - that was an error on my part.

            3. Glad you enjoyed. I think you can still order a 2 course lunch at the bar?

              2 Replies
              1. re: MrGrumpy

                You could order one course at the bar if you would like or any combination of dishes on the bar menu, right now they have 4 offerings for app and four for main and I think it was three desserts. It's a great option if you don't have the time for the main dining room.

                1. re: Spiritchaser

                  Eating at the bar would be a good idea for next time, you're right!

              2. Yes that apple brandy was pretty unpleasant. We were not invited for the kitchen tour, but asked for it before we left and they were happy to oblige.

                1. "There were more than a few open tables during the lunch service. I thought this was odd, but maybe it was intentional. "

                  Probably intentional. Del Posto deliberately restricts the number of tables that it makes available for lunch service. I'd imagine that EMP does the same.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Scott_C

                    I found Del Posto to be uncomfortably empty the last time I had lunch there—so it doesn't always make for a good experience.

                      1. re: Pan

                        Probably because lunch isn't as profitable as dinner. Diners don't order as much wine and, in the case of Del Posto, lunch prices are lower than dinner prices. By limiting tables, the restaurant would trim its fixed costs (i.e. staffing and ingredients) at lunch.

                        That said, Le Bernardin, Jean Georges, and The Modern Dining Room always seem to be fully booked at lunch.

                        1. re: Scott_C

                          This does not seem surprising to me. Dinner seatings are very spread out at EMP, presumably so that each station in the kitchen is not overwhelmed. With only an hour of possible seatings for lunch (instead of 4 hours at dinner!) I imagine it would be a bit overwhelming for the kitchen to feed a full restaurant in that short a timespan.

                          1. re: Tubulus

                            We were there for lunch in September, and asked about the empty tables, and was told it was because of the new menu, and the tighter time restrictions at lunch from the customers.

                            1. re: golfer1

                              EMP has now moved into the Per Se model of 3 hours for a meal. Previously (pre-grid) it was extremely do-able to have lunch at EMP within an hour (maybe 1 1/2 hours) which is fine for business people (especially at the lower price point). I do hope that EMP makes the full move into the Per Se lunch model, and begins to offer lunch on the weekend; I would love to have lunch at EMP again, but unfortunately work doesn't allow me to enjoy 3 hour lunches.

                              1. re: ellenost

                                As mentioned above, you can still have a shorter lunch at the bar.

                                1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

                                  First: Sitting at the bar doesn't work for business lunches.

                                  Second: Since there are no reservations taken for bar seating, one has to be very flexible as to either having lunch very early or very late or having to wait for an open spot. EMP is not near my office, and unless I can make a lunch reservation, it is no longer a business lunch option for me.

                                  1. re: ellenost

                                    ellenost, that's a really good point. I remember back in the 2-course lunch day at EMP (and even the 4-course day) seeing several business lunches surrounding me and the place was packed.
                                    During my lunch visit last month I did notice that 2 ladies beside us from Hong Kong were unaware of the length of the meal and it had to be cut short so they could leave. I felt badly for them.

                      2. re: Scott_C

                        ScottC - that makes sense! And you're right - we also had lunch at JG, which was, and always is, in my experience, full to capacity.