Hot Chef: Amanda Freitag is back with Empire Diner

The Empire (Diner) Strikes Back with Freitag at its helm. Credit: Provided
The Empire (Diner) Strikes Back with Freitag at its helm.
Credit: Provided

Opening a highly anticipated, revamped diner in an iconic space (left empty for the past few years) in the middle of winter is no easy feat, but somehow Chef Amanda Freitag rose to the occasion. Seeing the chef (formerly of The Harrison in Tribeca and more recently as a judge on Food Network’s Chopped) at the brand-new Empire Diner (210 10th Ave., 212-596-7523), you’d swear she cloned herself. One minute she’s on the line, executing dinner orders and keeping a close eye on every dish coming out of the kitchen, and the next she’s greeting patrons at the bar and rubbing shoulders with Chelsea neighbors in a booth.

OK, so maybe there really is just one of her, but Freitag is everywhere all at once — albeit in the Art Deco space revamped by Groundswell Design Group, steps away from the High Line. The joint has a throwback look (think channel booths and a honeycomb floor) and seating for 75 indoors; come springtime the sidewalk seating will accommodate an additional 75, and the restaurant will begin serving lunch and brunch later this winter/early spring.

We caught up with Freitag and talked comfort food and feeding her West Chelsea neighbors.

 

What is something you didn’t anticipate happening during this opening?

Already having regulars after a week of being open! We already have people coming in two or three times after being open a week.

 

Do you think they’re coming in because you’re in a cool, new local spot or from seeing you on Food Network?

I think that everyone’s so excited that the Empire Diner is back open. That’s definitely the vibe I’ve been getting.

 

What is the hottest menu item at the Diner so far?

What is really cool is that the two highest selling items after the first week have been octopus and the burger. To me, that means everyone’s getting it. It’s exactly what I wanted for the new definition of the modern diner.

 

Looking ahead to the coming season, what are you excited to add to the menu?

Spring vegetables! Any vegetable that’s not a root vegetable! It’s really hard to make an opening menu in January. I’m looking forward to [adding] some healthier items, and opening for lunch and making really fun sandwiches and big, loaded salads.

 

What do you anticipate never taking off the menu?

Pancakes are never coming off that menu, ever, and the patty melt is here to stay.

 

As a Chelsea resident yourself, do you have any favorite haunts in the hood?

Yes! I go to Cookshop all the time. … I go to Westville pretty often and I go to Foragers a lot. I buy their roast chicken when I don’t want to make my own.

 

Who are you most excited to see come through the doors of Empire Diner?

Any chef friends and any of my Chopped cohorts. Geoffrey Zakarian’s already been in; Marco Canora lives in the neighborhood and came by. For me, it’s exciting to have chef friends coming in, supporting me and giving good feedback.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Woman dies when run over by bus at…

A woman at the Burning Man arts and culture festival in the Nevada desert died on Thursday when she was run over by a bus carrying participants.

National

Texas parents sue day care center for duct…

By Marice RichterDALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas couple has filed a lawsuit against the owners of a Fort Worth-area day care center seeking $1 million…

National

Santa Fe city council votes to decriminalize marijuana

By Joseph KolbALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe on Wednesday became the latest U.S. city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, with lawmakers in the…

International

Egypt queries Mursi over documents "leaked" to Al…

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is investigating jailed ex-president Mohamed Mursi in connection with documents that judicial investigators say were leaked to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…