Empellon: Alex is hot, the food not so much

Empellon 8
Dear Food Diary:
I’ve been a long time fan (ok, fine. I’ll admit… stalker) of hottie pastry Chef Alex Stupak. My delicious love affair started at the Bon Appetit Supper Club Cafe back in ’09. He won me over with his Yuzu Tart. And then it escalated during my WD 50 visit, where I met him *wink*. So you can understand why Empellon naturally got bumped to the top spot on my infinite list of NYC eateries.

Empellon 9
I trusted the flavors and inventiveness of his desserts enough to think he would do amazing with Mexican cooking. I was excited the minute I entered. Hoped to get a glance of him along the way. Yes, eye candy is always welcomed, but I left disappointed. 
Oh yeah, the space was roomy and had its charm… now to the food and drink…
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We started off with a Por Que No? Cocktail (which translates to “why not”, my attitude towards drinking in general LOL. “one please!”) I didn’t know if I hated it, but I’m certain I didn’t like it. The silver, cilantro, serrano and pineapple seemed to be strangers swimming in a glass wishing they could be in a salsa. I’m not a fan of a spicy drink with a slight savory twist. It was interesting but at $13 I’d say get your curiosity fix elsewhere or with another drink.
Empellon 1
As if I didn’t have enough pork for weeks after that epic meal, I wasn’t able to resist ordering the Chicharron with Salsa Veracruz. I was waiting for that “unhealthy” but really really good, down and dirty chicharron like the way it’s suppose to be. These on the other hand were light, crisp and airy, sort of like a chinese shrimp chip with pork flavor. A more refined version if you will, along the warm roasted tomato, olive and caper dip. I like street cart version better, this was too dressed up for me and the texture was lacking. Plus I want that salty, pungent pork flavor that needs no dipping sauce on the side, just heart attack waiting to happen.
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Mango and Scallop Ceviche was a little on the sweet side for me. The mango masked the natural sweetness and flavors of the scallop. Perhaps a squeeze of lime would of helped brighten it up a bit.
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Pork Taco was meh, I’ve definitivamente had better. There was some heat to it and nicely pickled veggies, but the pork itself, though crispy was a bit tough and dry. The tortillas were embarrassed to be on the plate, they didn’t stand up to the ingredients and fell apart. Seriously, who wants to eat tacos with fork and knife!? make no sense. 
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Beer Braised Tongue Taco was the best thing I had all night. One of the better tongue tacos I’ve had in this town. The tongue was cooked perfectly, maybe it was the beer that broke down the protein nicely (just as my ChubbyMama cooks her pork). Lean and tender along side potatoes and arbol chile salsa. Really smokey with a hint of heat and wonderful play of textures. I would of rated this at least 4.5 Chubby, but overall, my dinner wasn’t worth it.
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This is where Alex was shining through with his twist on one of my favorite desserts “flan”. His version was a Chocolate Flan which was thinner size wise, but denser in texture (think flan and ganache). Along side crunchy masa-cocoa streusel and cinnamon ice cream. It melts, its rich, crunchy, chocolately in a decadently dark way and luscious honey. Just the right amount of sweetness. Everything I love about dessert in one bite.
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I really wanted to love this place, but I didn’t, sorry Alex, I still think you’re hot! Yes, way hotter than the food I had. The worst part were those dry and crumbling tortillas, you just can’t have great tacos if they suck. As delicioso as the tongue and dessert was, I won’t be back. So stalking Alex will be done strictly outside the restaurant, by the backdoor of the kitchen (I think I saw him bring out the garbage one time, when I was “walking by” the neighborhood).

P.S. Chubby’s RATING:chubby rating 2.5
230 West 4th St
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