When I read on some of the blogs that people were actually picking up crumbs from the floor at Empire Biscuit, that the biscuits were THAT good, I knew I had to try them for myself. I love a good biscuit and when I heard Empire was forced to shut down for a few days to regroup due to the large crowds, I had to see if it is really worth all of the hype.
The restaurant itself has a cool vibe with cement floors and light wood covering the walls. There's a sharing table and some counter space, but that's pretty much it. As I walked in I noticed a nice crowd, but the line was manageable so I stuck around. The workers were all busy and having a fun time, especially the guy at the cash register, who seemed to be holding endless conversations with the female customers. Maybe that was intentional because the food wasn't leaving the kitchen very quickly.
When it was my turn, I ordered the spiced fried chicken with pickled carrots and l'Orange sauce. My mouth was watering in anticipation. After about ten minutes or so my name was called and I went up to the counter to retrieve my biscuit. What I found was what looked like a charred piece of meat sticking out of a biscuit. I should have returned it on the spot, but decided instead to try it. After all they sold it. Yes, indeed my deep fried chicken was fried alright... to a crisp. The crust was black and tasted like ash. The meat itself was overcooked, dry and stringy. My glistening l'Orange sauce mixing with the burnt skin tasted downright caustic. But then I thought, at least I could rely on the biscuit. Unfortunately, it wasn't much better. There were no wonderful layers to pull apart. No rich buttery flavor. Instead, it was dense and a little gummy. After about two bites I tossed the whole thing in the trash.
It's probably my fault for not complaining. And there are plenty of other interesting options. Biscuits and gravy or the Scotch egg cheddar biscuit might have fared better. They also have an assortment of jams and flavored butters to choose from. Hopefully, mine was the exception not the rule.
But I still had a hard time getting that caustic taste out of my mouth. It was enough to give Paula Dean palpitations if she were still relevant. Unfortunately, she and Empire Biscuit are not. You'd be better off heading to BobWhite's on Avenue C.