Moving from Himitsu to Emilie’s is like going from your first apartment to a fully detached house. Yes, the space you know and love is gone and it’s hard to replicate the cozy feeling of a place that small, but the house is… well it’s a house. It’s sprawling in comparison, and made up of rooms that have different feelings depending on your mood. Emilie’s can’t replace Himitsu, but it’s a grand next step in chef Kevin Tien’s culinary career.
Grand is the keyword there. Emilie’s isn’t so big its cavernous and it’s not so fancy that you couldn’t roll in with your hair unwashed, but the layout invokes a certain amount of drama. There’s the long, moodily lit bar that greets you at the entrance and a chefs counter in the back that lets you a peek in on the action, but the centerpiece of Emilie’s is the open kitchen set in the middle of the dining room. Flanked by booths and rows of tables, it pulls you into Tien’s world. Every plate becomes apart of a larger performance, every garnish is a prop, every cook an actor.
And the play is delicious. A small sneak peek at the menu has left our stomachs rumbling and our minds eager to return. Chicken liver gougeres with their combination of five space, togarashi and pecorino are a salty, buttery bomb that pair perfectly with a cold beverage. The beef tartare featuring (more) pecorino, a delightful crab fat mustard and a house made focaccia feels homey, in a slightly more glamorous way. But the real winner, the dish we can’t stop dreaming about is the cavatelli. Pillowy clouds of pasta are draped in a decadent ‘nduja cream sauce, laced with mustard greens and then covered with a layer of bread crumbs. It’s crunchy and spicy and entirely addicting.
Dessert is a required course here (no matter how you feel about sweets). Salted rye chocolate chip cookies paired with a honeycomb milk makes you feel like you’re a kid (with really good taste), while fresh doughnuts stuffed with concord jelly and covered with a crystalline layer rosemary sugar have even managed to convert me, a person who hates jelly doughnuts. Also, all sugar should be rosemary sugar. Prove me wrong.
Emilie’s isn’t Himitsu, and that’s a good thing. With his new restaurant Tien has the space he needs to show off his talent and we get to reap the benefits. So grab a reservation or walk on in. There’s enough room for everyone.