Biscuits of the Pillsbury variety—warm fresh and slathered with ersatz butter—were a childhood favorite. I didn’t try true blue fluffy Southern biscuits until many years later. After my good friend Elyse Pasquale forced me to visit Empire Biscuit in the East Village last night I’m convinced I don’t eat them nearly often enough.
I’m only half kidding when I say she forced me. We’d just eaten our body weight in hors d’ouevres—including a killer creation of smoked mackerel nestled in a curl of whey steamed onion, topped with shaved foie gras—at an event hosted by Tabélog at Skál. Elyse doesn’t play when it comes to food, so when she told me that they were the best biscuits ever, I agreed to undertake the long march from Chinatown to the East Village.
The first thing I noticed when we got to Empire Biscuit was a blonde wood exterior that made it seem even more Scandinavian than the Icelandic inflected Skál. Once inside though the aromas of buttery biscuits and bacon evoked the American South. I was mighty tempted by a number on the menu called The Bright Crew consisting of slow cooked oxtail with arugula and fennel butter, but good sense and overfullness held me in check. Instead I got a Benton’s bacon egg and cheddar biscuit ($6.25). It was quite lovely, next time I’m going to ask if they can sub out the cheddar for pimento cheese.
This morning I awoke with a food hangover and stumbled down the street to a coffee cart run by a gruff Uzbek gentleman. I ordered a classic New York style breakfast sandwich of two eggs with cheese and sausage and a large coffee. Doctored up with some peri peri hot sauce it was kind of tasty. Still it paled in comparison to Empire’s dainty Southern belle of a breakfast sandwich.
Empire Biscuit, 198 Avenue A