“Yes, It would make even more sense to shut down Cocina and reopen it as Taqueria. We have the data and we know it would make us more successful. At least financially it would. In terms of accomplishing what I set out to do with that particular restaurant it would be a failure.”
So says Alex Stupak. Big props to him for taking on some risk in this very conservative year for new restaurants. Then again, Empellon Cocina is not a new restaurant (Source: Eater). 
There you go folks. Empellon’s Alex Stupak is teaming up with Alinea’s Grant Achatz for a one-night-only twelve course dinner. The cost is $325, inclusive of food, drinks, taxes and service. We’ve attended Empellon’s Enrique Olvera & Jordan Kahn PUSH dinners in the past and they were pretty rad. We appreciate the all-inclusive REAL COST pricing, which makes all the math easier for the diner. Party of two? $650. Part of four? $1300. Only even numbers accepted for bookings (2,4,6). We’re calling this one a BUY. 
Click through to submit a reservation request or call 212.367.0999.

There you go folks. Empellon’s Alex Stupak is teaming up with Alinea’s Grant Achatz for a one-night-only twelve course dinner. The cost is $325, inclusive of food, drinks, taxes and service. We’ve attended Empellon’s Enrique Olvera & Jordan Kahn PUSH dinners in the past and they were pretty rad. We appreciate the all-inclusive REAL COST pricing, which makes all the math easier for the diner. Party of two? $650. Part of four? $1300. Only even numbers accepted for bookings (2,4,6). We’re calling this one a BUY. 

Click through to submit a reservation request or call 212.367.0999.

We have a new addition to the world of Tumblr: Empellon by Alex Stupak! The ex-pastry WD-50 pastry chef runs his fine duo of Mexican restaurants (Taqueria & Cocina) in Manhattan’s East and West Villages. So far, the team has been blogging about recipes (here’s one for pistachio guacamole), barman Matt Resler’s Agave Studies in Mexico, and other fun stuff. Adjust your feeds accordingly. 

We have a new addition to the world of Tumblr: Empellon by Alex Stupak! The ex-pastry WD-50 pastry chef runs his fine duo of Mexican restaurants (Taqueria & Cocina) in Manhattan’s East and West Villages. So far, the team has been blogging about recipes (here’s one for pistachio guacamole), barman Matt Resler’s Agave Studies in Mexico, and other fun stuff. Adjust your feeds accordingly. 

The Importance of Small Plates: Alex Stupak’s excellent Empellon Cocina has eliminated entrees (i.e. main courses) in favor of smaller shared plates and tacos. He’s done this before but looks like this time he’s sticking to his guns. As Stupak explained on Twitter: “our tacos seem to be what anchors us and besides they are more fun to work with than 6-8 ounces of clunky protein.” He says that he plans on “developing the middle of the menu and expanding it.”
And just to drive the point home, Stupak adds: “I can’t stand [entrees] so I’m never cooking them again.”  
Shared plates is the right move for a restaurant that’s as envelope-pushing as Empellon Cocina, with dishes like sea urchin guacamole or sweetbread sandwiches. If you don’t like a particular preparation (unlikely, b/c of the food is awesome), you just move onto the next dish, without having to commit to a larger portion. 
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We at The Bad Deal have always been fans of tapas-style dining in almost every scenario, as it gives diners more precise control over their economic and culinary experience. You want to spend or eat more? You order more. You want to spend or eat less? You order less. 
For everyday eating, this is a heck of a lot more fair to the guest than committing to a $58 strip steak “for one” or a $116 three-course prix-fixe. Then again, on the spendier side of the spectrum, we believe that individual small plates (one-to-three bites) are also the reason that long tasting menus work so well. Sure there’s less choice and a greater financial commitment, but if a particular course don’t work, you still have 20-24 other shots at success. Or put more bluntly, long tastings, like small plates, encourages chefs to take risks they can’t commit to with a three-course menu.  
We also hope Empellon’s move helps divorce all of us from the silly notion of a traditional entree, where every guest orders (or ever worse, asserts ownership over) a large protein or pasta. So we’re calling this move by Alex Stupak a GOOD DEAL and a STRONG BUY.
Incidentally, all of Empellon’s dishes are $19 or under. 
ryansutton:

Empellon Cocina: Shortrib pastramic tacos with pickled cabbage and mustard seed salsa. Analysis: not enough pepper to qualify as pastrami, but still, a heck of a lot of flavor, so my criticism is only a taxonomic one. It’s a corned beef taco and it’s bangin. Cost: $16 for two tacos. Rating: BUY. Check out the menu.

The Importance of Small Plates: Alex Stupak’s excellent Empellon Cocina has eliminated entrees (i.e. main courses) in favor of smaller shared plates and tacos. He’s done this before but looks like this time he’s sticking to his guns. As Stupak explained on Twitter: “our tacos seem to be what anchors us and besides they are more fun to work with than 6-8 ounces of clunky protein.” He says that he plans on “developing the middle of the menu and expanding it.”

And just to drive the point home, Stupak adds: “I can’t stand [entrees] so I’m never cooking them again.”  

Shared plates is the right move for a restaurant that’s as envelope-pushing as Empellon Cocina, with dishes like sea urchin guacamole or sweetbread sandwiches. If you don’t like a particular preparation (unlikely, b/c of the food is awesome), you just move onto the next dish, without having to commit to a larger portion. 

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Carolina Crab. Pork Cheeks. Masa Gnocchi. That’s Your Sandy Benefit Dinner. We Approve.

Dear Members of The Culinary Cognoscenti: Let’s not slack off in our relief efforts, which in this case requires making a reservation, eating good food and drinking good wine. All in all a pretty okay arrangement! So we’re happy to say Hearth Restaurant still has space left for this $250 per person Sandy benefit dinner being held this Monday. Here’s your menu, brothers and sisters: 

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We’ve had the good fortune of attending an excellent benefit dinner at Hearth recently, and rest assured, these guys get it right. We’re calling this one a GOOD DEAL. Oh, and in case you’re interested, this is an NYC Food Flood event, “a relief effort to feed New Yorkers in need.” The group was founded by Chefs Andrew Carmellini, George Mendes, Seamus Mullen and Marco Canora in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Why? Because that’s how they roll. 

Empellon Cocina will serve a taco tasting menu, with unlimited beer & margaritas, on 2 November 2012. The price is $95 before 9pm, or $125 after. 
Now here’s what’s interesting. First, Cocina doesn’t serve typically tacos, and just to drive that point home, Chef Alex Stupak published a 400 word essay explaining why. Second, Empellon doesn’t typically serve tasting menus, as Stupak told us in April.
But when Cocina breaks from tradition and does a set menu, they get it right, as was the case earlier in October when Stupak teamed up with Mexico City’s Enrique Olvera and decided it would be a good idea to pair caviar with plantains. It was very good idea indeed. 
So based on past experiences, we’re inclined to say this taco tasting MIGHT be a good deal. Naysayers will surely bring out the ethnocentric argument that good tacos should be cheap tacos, and those believe as much are welcome to debate the issue at Taco Bell in Penn Station. We’ll skip that plenary session. Click through for the full menu. Hint: black truffles are involved. 

Empellon Cocina will serve a taco tasting menu, with unlimited beer & margaritas, on 2 November 2012. The price is $95 before 9pm, or $125 after. 

Now here’s what’s interesting. First, Cocina doesn’t serve typically tacos, and just to drive that point home, Chef Alex Stupak published a 400 word essay explaining why. Second, Empellon doesn’t typically serve tasting menus, as Stupak told us in April.

But when Cocina breaks from tradition and does a set menu, they get it right, as was the case earlier in October when Stupak teamed up with Mexico City’s Enrique Olvera and decided it would be a good idea to pair caviar with plantains. It was very good idea indeed. 

So based on past experiences, we’re inclined to say this taco tasting MIGHT be a good deal. Naysayers will surely bring out the ethnocentric argument that good tacos should be cheap tacos, and those believe as much are welcome to debate the issue at Taco Bell in Penn Station. We’ll skip that plenary session. Click through for the full menu. Hint: black truffles are involved. 

DirtyDaddy Wants You Wasted Before Sunset

UrbanDaddy, the DirtyDaddy of deals, is offering unlimited tacos & margaritas at Agave, a West Village Mexican joint that you’ve always walked by but never into. Let’s keep it that way. The coupon costs $30 — not a whole lot of money. So why’s this a BAD DEAL? As always, let’s turn to the Dirty fine print:

  • "Offer is valid Mon-Fri for any two hours BETWEEN 4pm and 8pm." 

That means the deal is over no later than 8pm, at which time you turn into a pumpkin a useless sack of alcoholic stupor. That’s another way of saying unless you’re 350 pounds, and unless you typically fall asleep at 9pm, consuming UNLIMITED margaritas and UNLIMITED Tex-Mex fare will totally kill the rest of your DirtyDaddy night. The Bad Deal is a fan of happy hour. But we’re gonna go ahead and say drinking as much as humanly possible before 8pm is probably a bad idea. In fact, we think unlimited alcohol in general is just plain dumb. But let’s take this one step at a time. 

Our Advice: Walk around the corner with your buddy and hit up Alex Stupak & Lauren Resler’s Empellon. Share the life-changing lamb barbacoa tacos ($21), and mind-boggling beer-braised tongue tacos ($18). Order two cocktails each and you’re out $46 bucks apiece. Sure you’re spending more, but we at The Bad Deal believe GOOD FOOD is worth MORE MONEY. It’s a radical concept. So let the college kids go get bombed at Agave while you chill out at Empellon.