The Mother-Empress meld
A meaty menu makes room for vegetarian goodness
On Jan. 8, a week after Mother’s surprising closure, Empress Tavern introduced its blended Empress-Mother menu. As I’m a fan of manageable goals, I made it my mission to check out the veg side of the new menu immediately. I expected a few token Mother offerings, but Empress’s dozen-ish item lunch menu is mostly vegetarian. Prices are a bit higher than Mother’s were, but that’s completely fair for table service. My friend and I ran through half the lunch menu in one sitting. The Mother standards are there: Among them the Chicken Fried Mushroom Po’Boy ($12), Farro Salad ($13), veganizable Kale Caesar ($12). From the Empress menu, Grilled Broccolini ($8, sans Parmesan) was killer. Chile Verde made the dinner cut, but ask to omit the cheese curds. Nearly every vegetable side can be veg-friendly. It’s a pricier night out than Mother, but it’s worth it.