There has been a great deal written about Empire Biscuit since its opening at the end of October. The place was hyped up so much that lines were out the door from the first day it opened. Countless baking issues caused the restaurant, that hoped to be open 24 hours from its initiation, to close every few days (or hours) to keep up with the demand. Recently, I was finally able to make my way there, and without any lines to wait on ,I got to see what all of the hype was about.
The restaurant sits on Avenue A, and adds a contemporary feel to the gritty Alphabet City neighborhood. The simple design of the space leaves room to showcase what is really what the place is about- the biscuits. With all of the baking done on premises, you’re sure to get the freshest biscuit possible, but it also leaves room for issues, which is what has set them back during the first few weeks. I’d say that it’s worth it though, because if the biscuits weren’t made fresh constantly throughout the day, the sandwiches wouldn’t be as good as they are.
The menu has a wide range of flavors, ranging from sweet to savory, and with options to create your own custom sandwich, depending on what you are in the mood for. They offer their own creations, like the Scotch Egg with Cheddar and Whole Grain Mustard and the Spiced Fried Chicken with Pickled Carrots and a Sauce a l’Orange, which are both customer favorites, among many others.
At the center of the menu are the traditional biscuits and gravy, but with Empire’s own take on it. The Red Eye, made with Tasso and Coffee and the Vegetarian, which is a mix of black beans, olives and rosemary, originate off of the southern idea of biscuits and gravy, but take it one step further. The Sausage Gravy, which I tried, oozed out of the warmed buttery biscuit, and made the wait to come to Empire completely worth it. This biscuit is the perfect meal to have after a night out, and will not disappoint whether you’ve had a few drinks or wander into the shop sober.
Creativity is at the core of Empire Biscuits, and is why the restaurant can even exist in an oversaturated food city like New York. The custom portion of the menu allows for mixing and matching of homemade butters and spreads with Empire made jams, jellies, and marmalades. Flavors such as French Toast Butter, Creole Cream Cheese and even Foie Gras Butter can be combined with spreads such as Red Pepper and Jalapeno Jelly, Oxtail and Brown Sugar Jelly and Plum, Prune and Port Jam. The unusual flavors make way for a sandwich you can’t find anywhere else and is suited to fit whatever you may be craving at that moment. I sampled the Goat Cheese and Black Pepper Butter with a seasonal Cranberry jelly spread across the warm biscuit. It mixed sweetness with a creamy kick of the Butter, and was simply delicious. The sandwich is usually made with the Plum, Prune and Port Jam, under the name of the “Snuggah Boo”, which would have been equally as good.
Whether you want a savory biscuit or are in the mood for something more of substance, Empire Biscuit will leave you full but wanting more. With lines dying down a bit, head over to the shop to create a biscuit of your own and find out just why this place was shutting down due to popular demand.
198 Avenue A, New York, NY