Located near Rockefeller Center, Empire Steakhouse is the third addition of steakhouses founded by Jeff Sinanaj and his two brothers, Ben and Jack. Their latest venture begins less than six years after their successfully operating the two other restaurants.
The proprietors have had 25 years of joint work experience at Peter Luger Steakhouse. Having been raised on a farm in their homeland, Montenegro, the Sinanaj brothers are connoisseurs of this timeless and classic food—the steak.
Empire’s setting is energetically warm and welcoming. In the dining area, there are white cloth-draped tables, bright and airy decorated walls that carry colorful paintings, and wine racks full of an endless medley of carefully chosen wines, assuring one of just the right selection to accompany a steak. Large windows provide ample light, and the service is remarkable.
Their classic American menu—tailored to this meat lover’s heaven—satisfies even the most discerning appetite for steak. Although a steakhouse, Empire’s menu also offers diverse fare with varieties of fresh seafood, vegetables, and salad sides.
While sipping a martini, diners might start with any of the wonderful appetizers such as a cocktail of fresh, sweet, meaty lumps of crab meat ($18.95); or the delicious jumbo shrimp cocktail ($17.95) with a fantastic house-made cocktail sauce; or perhaps fresh oysters on the half shell ($12.95).
Another enticing choice, a perfect complement to the martini, would be the crunchy, salty, extra thick slice of Sizzling Canadian Bacon ($2.95); or simply a gratifying salad to freshen the palate and whet the appetite for the juicy, tender, broiled steak.
All beef is USDA prime, and dry-aged on the premises—between 21 and 28 days—with Jack Sinanaj’s secret aging technique.
Though famous for their porterhouse steaks, served in portions for two, three, or four persons ($81–$163), there is also the tender and smooth Filet Mignon and Prime New York Sirloin. On the bolder side, there is my favorite, the Rib Eye Steak ($40). Whichever the choice, it will be served exactly the way you want it prepared, whether on the rare or medium-rare side.
The flavor of the meat was more pleasing than expected—full of herbal aroma, and almost earthy … nutty. For a moment I thought the meat must have been marinated, but quickly remembered the secret dry-aging process Jack uses to make his meats so flavorful.
Other meat choices are the lamb and veal chops.
In addition to meat, there is a healthy selection of fresh seafood, from a very much-loved Chilean Sea Bass ($33) to a 4-pound lobster (at market value). Besides the Sea Bass, the Grilled Norwegian Salmon ($30) would be my choice rather than the Filet of Sole ($33.95), which was dulled by the lemon and butter sauce.
Of course to go with meat and fish, there is a choice of either cottage fries and onion rings ($11.95) or the creamy mashed potatoes ($9.95), and side orders of sautéed asparagus ($11.95) and sautéed spinach ($10.95). They accompany either meat or seafood well, complete the meal, and of which a nice glass of white or red wine would provide a perfect ending to a lovely dining experience.
I will definitely go back again for the Rib Eye, and for their special lunch ($29.95).
Empire is open seven days a week. They serve lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, and dinner only on Sundays.
36 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019