Food & Drink
Check out this Starbucks Reserve Empire State-exclusive food and drink review.

A Review Of Starbucks Reserve Empire State's Exclusive Menu

Don’t sleep on the polenta fries.

Courtesy of Starbucks/Sarah Flotard

Your new favorite Starbucks drinks just dropped, but you won’t be able to snag them at your go-to store. The coffee giant previewed its new Starbucks Reserve location in the Empire State Building on Nov. 14, and with three massive floors to explore, it’s no surprise the store is filled with exclusive food and drink items you can’t get anywhere else. I got to taste 13 one-of-a-kind sips and snacks ahead of the store’s grand opening on Nov. 16, and this review of the Empire State Building Starbucks Reserve food and drink items breaks down everything you can expect from the expansive (and tasty) exclusive menu.

The new Reserve location, which spans a whopping 23,000 square feet, consists of three levels — the main floor, the bar and restaurant area, and the concourse level — and you can snag a unique menu item on each floor. The main floor features a to-go menu full of artisanal bakery options from a boutique cafe called Princi, as well classic Starbucks beverages, and a delicious Empire State Building blend that you can’t get anywhere else.

Meanwhile, the bar and restaurant are stacked with rare menu items, like the Polenta Fries and The Big Apple Blossom cocktail, and the concourse level offers a number of hands-on workshops and classes where you’ll be among the first to try Starbucks’ Cold Pressed Espresso beverages. Basically, be ready to do a lot of taste-testing when you visit this new Reserve location.

Courtesy of Starbucks/Connor Surdi

With so many menu items to choose from, you’re probably wondering which ones are worth a taste, and which ones might be a skip. I got to preview the goodies for myself on Nov. 14, and spoiler alert — they’re almost all standouts in my book.

Starbucks Reserve Empire State Exclusive Drinks

The Starbucks Reserve at the Empire State Building is the only place you can score these sips, so make sure to snag as many as you can on your next visit to the new location.

Empire State Building Microblend

Though the name is inspired by the iconic building that’s home to the new Reserve location, the Empire State Building Microblend is actually roasted at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery on 9th Ave in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, which opened in 2018. It has a rich scent, but the subtle blend of vanilla and spice goes down oh-so smoothly.

Courtesy of Starbucks/Connor Surdi

Siren Tea Punch

Expect the mix of spicy tequila and firewater bitters to sting the back of your throat, because the Siren Tea Punch definitely has a “punch.” It’s nothing that a quick nibble on the edible flower in the drink can’t take care of, though.

Jillian Giandurco

The Big Apple Blossom

Speaking of edible flowers, the Big Apple Blossom comes with a sour edible flower that perfectly complements the fruity apple and lemon flavors of the sip.

Jillian Giandurco

Starbucks Reserve Royale Experience

While the Starbucks Reserve Royale Experience is a mimosa-like cocktail that can be customized to your liking, I tried the Orange-Passionfruit purée version of the bev. The drink is bursting with refreshing citrus flavor.

Cold Pressed Espresso

This coffee gives off a rich, cocoa-like scent, and features a delightful mix of light espresso and subtle chocolate. Exclusive to the Empire State Building location, Starbucks’ collection of Cold Pressed Espresso beverages are made with a new form of brewing technology that uses cold water and upward pressure for a sweeter espresso taste.

Iced Cold Pressed Apple Americano

The combination of apple juice-flavored cold foam and Cold Pressed Espresso immediately snagged the title as my favorite coffee sip of the day, but if you prefer a stronger coffee flavor, you may want to skip it. I loved how it mixed with the creamiest cold foam I’ve ever tasted — it was like an apple pie a la mode. 12/10 would drink again.

Jillian Giandurco

Malted Milkshake with Black Lemon

Vanilla gelato makes this sip taste like a diner milkshake, which, IYDK, is the highest compliment you could possibly give a milkshake. With more of a dessert vibe, the Malted Milkshake is the perfect break from coffee and cocktails.

Starbucks Reserve Empire State Exclusive Food Items

Come for the drinks — stay for the food. These bites have so much more to offer than your local Starbucks, and here’s what you can expect from each dish.

Mushroom Frittata

Expected to roll out in a brunch menu later this year, the egg dish is super light and fluffy, and it contrasts nicely with the soft mushrooms pieces. Mushrooms aren’t really my ~thing~ so this one wasn’t my favorite, but I’m sure mushroom fans will feel differently.

Jillian Giandurco

Princi Sourdough Waffle

Though the sourdough makes the exterior of the waffle a little tougher than you’d expect, it maintains its fluffy center — and the caramelized apples are so soft, they almost taste like chewy candies. This brunch item won’t be available until later this year.

Jillian Giandurco

Labneh Yogurt

Don’t expect a sweet spoonful, because the Labneh Yogurt has a fairly sour taste to it, but that’s not a bad thing. The za’atar seasoning, which is made from a blend of dried herbs, and the added drizzle of olive oil level out the dish. It’s best enjoyed as a dip for the crispy schiacciatine crackers that are included in the order. I probably wouldn’t order it again TBH, but it’s nothing against the dish — there were just other options I liked better.

Jillian Giandurco

Polenta Fries

If there’s one restaurant item you have to try, it’s the Polenta Fries. The golden-brown delights have the familiar scent of olive oil, but it’s the crunchy exterior and buttery soft interior that makes this shareable plate a winner. The dish also comes with a side of lemon aioli that features the perfect balance of citrus and zest.

Jillian Giandurco

Empire Affogato Flight

Enjoy three ‘Gram-worthy gelato-filled flight flavors made with the Empire State Building Microblend: Banana Crisp Oatmilk, Whiskey Barrel-Aged and Caramel Mocha Drizzle. The Banana Crisp is by far the sweetest of the three, and it tastes like a scoop of ice cream melting on a warm piece of banana bread straight out the oven.

The coffee flavor comes out a lot more in the Whiskey Barrel-Aged sip, and the Caramel Mocha Drizzle features a nice balance of sweet caramel and the rich Microblend. It also also comes with a striped chocolate straw that melts with the gelato and brings major Toasted White Chocolate Mocha vibes.

Jillian Giandurco

Piccolini Dessert Collection

Of the five bite-sized desserts, the Dark Chocolate Cake Pop lives up to its name with a dark chocolate cake filling and coating, while the Cream Puff features a bit of an uneven mix of dough and creamy filling.

The Vanilla Panna Cotta is a showstopper with its vanilla mousse-like texture and crunchy chocolate cookie bottom, and the milk chocolate coating on the Hazelnut Cremosa perfectly complements its strong hazelnut mousse filling.

Lastly, the Pistachio Cannoli may not come with a pistachio-flavored ricotta cheese filling, but the pistachio pieces on top gets the job done.

Jillian Giandurco

In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with any of the exclusive menu items at the new Reserve, but if you’re looking to narrow down your options, I’d recommend the Princi Soughdough Waffle, the Polenta Fries, the Big Apple Blossom, and the Iced Cold Pressed Apple Americano.

Ready to embark on your very own taste test? The Starbucks Reserve at the Empire State Building opens its doors to the public on Nov. 16. To reserve a table, book an experience, or learn more about the space, click here.