Archive for the 'Eleven Madison Park (2)' Category

Eleven Madison Park. NYC

My birthday and Rocky’s are eight days apart. We’ve made a habit of making the celebrations span a few weeks. Last month, between our birthdays, on a beautiful February Sunday, we celebrated with an outstanding lunch at Eleven Madison Park. We showed up ahead of schedule and sipped some bubbles at the bar before sitting at our splendid corner table.

eleven madison park table setting

eleven madison park dining room

eleven madison park brooklyn knifeeleven madison park punch cardseleven madison park flavor tabs

On the table was a knife we used to open an envelope containing two punch cards offering four different flavors:  maple, cranberry, fennel, apple. We were told we had to pick a flavor that would appear later in our meal. Rocky picked apple. I chose fennel.

eleven madison park black and white cookieseleven madison park cheddar apple cookies

eleven madison park apple cheddar black and white cookie

CHEDDAR  Savory Black and White Cookie with Apple. To kick off the meal, EMP’s most recent adaptation of the New York classic. A cheesy savory biscuit complemented nicely by the sweet apple filling.

eleven madison park oyster vichyssoise

emp oyster vichyssoise caviar

OYSTER  Vichyssoise and Caviar. A dense Spring Creek Oyster, dotted with caviar, resting in creamy vichyssoise. The rich sauce  was a good base for the dual salinity. Good stuff.

eleven madison park scallopeleven madison park scallop apple pine

emp scallop apple pine water chestnut

SCALLOP  Marinated with Apple, Pine, and Water Chestnut. A solid enough East Coast scallop spiced up with horseradish and cooled off with yogurt. Some apple snow gave the plate a nice lasting acidity.

eleven madison park smoked bone marrowemp beef bone marroweleven madison park beef tartare caviar

BEEF  Tartare with Caviar and Smoked Bone Marrow. A decadent treat. Somehow the smoked marrow and raw beef didn’t kill the caviar with richness. Great balance.

eleven madison park beef pastrami pickles sodaeleven madison park apple fennel soda

eleven madison park pastramieleven madison park deli rye bread

BEEF  Pastrami with Pickles, Rye, Mustard, and Apple/Fennel. An homage to NYC delis. Rye bread with mustard, black garlic, and endive, pickles, a couple slices of pastrami, and sodas – apple flavored for Rocky and fennel for me. A super fun and pretty delicious course. Both the sodas were awesome.

eleven madison park seared foie gras

emp foie gras hazelnut sunchoke

FOIE GRAS  Seared with Sunchokes, Hazelnuts, and Solera Vinegar. At the outset of the meal we were each asked if we wanted our foie gras seared or cured. Naturally I wanted both but we ended up going one and one and I got to eat the majority of each. This presentation was fantastic. The foie was superb with the sweet and earthy accompaniments.

eleven madison park cured foie gras

emp cured foie gras sunchokes mustard greens

FOIE GRAS  Cured with Sunchokes and Fermented Mustard Greens. The mustard seeds and fermented greens added a nice depth to the plate, but we both preferred the seared presentation.

emp waldorf salad cookbookeleven madison park waldorf salad carteleven madison park waldorf salademp waldorf salad recipeemp waldorf salad double bowl

eleven madison park waldorf salad granola

APPLE  Waldorf Salad with Celery, Cranberries, and Walnuts. Apple and celery root dressed in lemon mayonnaise with cranberries, blue cheese, and candied walnuts. The service cart that rolled up with the mise en place for this course was impressive. The story of the dish, the preparation, and the beautiful antique cookbook were remarkable. The salad itself was mediocre at best. Rocky asked me if she had to finish hers. Though beneath the salad in the two part bowl was a granola and yogurt reinterpretation that was pretty nice. The strong celery taste of the granola was great, but it was still just yogurt and granola. Too bad the food didn’t match the grandeur of the service for this one.

eleven madison park kitchen table cocktail

eleven madison park kitchen table cocktail

Rocky and I were invited into the kitchen and shown to a standing high-top table where we were served a modernist interpretation of a penicillin cocktail. Scotch, ginger, honey…boozy fun.

eleven madison park lobster clam sea urchin

emp lobster razor clam

LOBSTER  Poached with Razor Clam, Sea Urchin, and Kale. First, a cold plating of the course. Tangy lobster salad stuffed inside a claw, sea urchin panna cotta, and razor clam with pear, roe, and kale puree. The clam and pear slices were strongly flavored and were great with the earthy vegetal kale.

eleven madison park lobster razor clam kale

eleven madison park lobster kale razor clam

emp lobster uni clam

LOBSTER  Poached with Razor Clam, Sea Urchin, and Kale. And then, the warm plating of the course. Sweet, rich lobster tail, sea urchin foam, meaty razor clam, a nice slice of pear, and an amazing kale leaf that tasted as if it may have been cooked in lobster stock and butter. A sublimely superb plate.

eleven madison park celery root black truffle

emp celery root truffle

CELERY ROOT  Braised with Black Truffle. A sphere carved from the core of braised celery root and doused with powerfully rich and fragrant black truffle jus. Alongside was some celery root puree under which sprawled black truffle puree. Wonderful intensity of earthy flavors.

eleven madison park honey lavender glazed duck

eleven madison park duck broth sausage

DUCK  Broth with Sausage and Gruyère. At the start of the meal, another choice we had to make was between duck or pork for the final savory. I’ll  choose their honey lavender glazed duck every time. The bird was presented, then carved and plated while we had a small bowl of duck broth with a kick ass gruyère and duck sausage chip with some kickin mustard seed acidity.

eleven madison park honey lavender glazed duck

emp glazed duckemp glazed duck side

DUCK  Roasted with Lavender, Honey, and Rutabaga. An outstanding roasted duck breast with rutabaga and citrus duck jus. The bowl served beside the feature was something along the lines of confit duck leg with a dense foamy foie gras sauce.

eleven madison park picnic basketeleven madison park picnic basket

emp picnic cheese courseemp cheese course

eleven madison park picnic cheese course

GREENSWARD  Pretzel, Onion, and Dried Fruit. A picnic basket complete with everything we needed to have a cheese course picnic. The feature was a cut of Greensward, a raw cow milk cheese by Jasper Hill Farms(Vermont) that is washed with Ithaca Beer Co’s Picnic Basket Ale and wrapped in spruce. Alongside was dried fruit, onion jam, and pretzel bread; the latter two were flavored with the aforementioned beer, a bottle of which was included in the basket. Good times.

eleven madison park sweet potato espresso orangeSWEET POTATO  Curd with Espresso Meringue and Orange Sorbet. A strikingly brilliant plate. Compelling compliments between multiple sweet and multiple bitter elements and the sourish citrus acidity. This had me going until the end: ‘Wow…what’s happening??’

emp baked alaskaemp baked alaskaeleven madison park baked alaska

emp baked alaska apple

emp baked alaska fennel

VANILLA  Baked Alaska with Rum, Raisin, and Apple/Fennel. Vanilla ice cream enclosed in a thick layer of meringue arrived on our table and was flambéed while our guy explained the history of the Baked Alaska dessert. It disappeared back to the kitchen and arrived again later plated up with Rocky’s and my preordained flavors of apple and fennel. Between the initial presentation and the final plating the portion curiously shrunk dramatically in size. I’m guessing the rest got tossed, but we sure did want to eat it.

eleven madison park chocolate pretzel

PRETZEL  Chocolate Covered with Sea Salt. A pretty delicious mildly crunchy, sweet, chocolatey pretzel.

emp black white cookieeleven madison park black and white cookies

eleven madison park black white

CHOCOLATE  Sweet Black and White Cookie with Cinnamon. To finish the meal, EMP’s current sweet iteration of the NYC classic. Oatmeal flour, Saigon cinnamon, and Mast Brothers chocolate.

emp birthday take home

And some handsome birthday treats to take home. They tasted like PB&J chocolates.

Some wines we drank:

emp champagneemp faiveley

emp gaubyemp tokaji

Date of meal:  February 23, 2014

Eleven Madison Park. 11 Madison Avenue. NYC  212.889.0905


Eleven Madison Park

Like every avid glutton enthusiastic diner, I keep a list of restaurants which I hope to visit soon. Naturally, some take precedence over others. Eleven Madison Park had been near the top of my NYC to-eat list for a little too long.

At the start of 2010, I made a New Year’s resolution to eat at more Michelin-starred restaurants than I did in 2009. Being that the year was now almost half over and I was under half-way to my goal, I decided to book a week of eating with my good friend BLT(the Beltless Tiger) during which I would only visit places I hadn’t been before(with exceptions of Jean Georges and Momofuku Ko). We planned to start the affair with a dinner at the hands of Daniel Humm and his team.

I didn’t make any plans for lunch on my arrival day, but I again found myself on the ground ahead of schedule and decided something great needed to happen. I’ve always liked doing two-a-days at the gym, and have adopted the same thought about restaurants. So with dinner already set at EMP, I figured I would try for lunch there too. On the cab ride to the island I called to see if they could get me a table. No luck. The dining room was completely booked. No worries. I figured I would show up at open and take a seat at one of the full-service tables in the bar area.

I arrived just past noon and was welcomed by troupe of young, good-looking ladies into the already bustling business place. I informed them I didn’t have a reservation but was hoping to find a seat in the bar. One of the ladies escorted me to the lounge and offered me a choice between a few tables or a bar stool.

I spotted my ideal seat immediately. A small round table where I could see most of the dining room floor, the front door, the service staff entering and leaving the kitchen, and also have my back close enough to the kitchen door that I could hear the chef calling out orders. I was happy already. The room was gorgeous and the staff all seemed upbeat and carried themselves well about the floor. This was going to be a great lunch.

The only service criticism I have for the meal(or any other I’ve had there since) is that I was fairly slow to be greeted at the table. I’m certainly not one to get upset about that, but I found it odd how long I sat looking around. But once the young lady came along to say hello with her winning smile, great things were set into motion.

I ordered a half-bottle of 1996 Saint-Chamant Blanc de Blancs to get started while I worked my way through the menu(which I already had half memorized from the website. I admit it was my plan all along to do an EMP two-a-day.)

Upon my server’s return, I ordered the lunch gourmand tasting menu and, given my compulsion to order every item I see involving peas, supplemented two dishes from the a la carte bar menu.

A small dish of warm gougeres arrived as my first sustenance. They were light, and just rich enough to play well with the yeast and acid of the Champagne. I planned to keep them around for awhile, but after two or three, a server asked to remove them and I didn’t object.

For the first course, I was presented with a Carrot Lollipop along with Garden Pea Soup with Buttermilk “Snow” and Bayonne Ham.

My first thought: this was easily the best play on peas and carrots I’ve had. The frozen carrot against the warm pea soup was immense. As I got more into the flavors, I became more impressed. The light, crisp, salty ham, the spice of the tendril, the richness of the buttermilk(which I suppose underwent some liquid nitrogen treatment) all based in that delicate soup gave me a food high I can still remember. Truly a magical moment for me. If this was an indication of what was yet to come, I knew my world was about to be rocked.

Next on the agenda was a Taboule Salad with Summer Crudites and Wild Herbs. Though I’m not too familiar with the traditional dish, this appeared to me to be a well-executed, refined take on a tabouli. There was a little Mediterranean influence, but this seemed to be more focused on the beautiful slices of vegetables, which is what I would prefer. While the fresh herb and veggie flavors were nice, and the textures pleasant, this was the one plate of the tasting that didn’t register a solid ‘wow’ with me.

To pair with the Taboule, I ordered a glass of 2007 Dirler Sylvaner, Vieilles Vignes. Alsace has for years been my go-to wine region when doing vegetable pairings, so this made sense to me. The pairing was fair, but not great. The minerality played well, but the Sylvaner was slightly too fruit-heavy and clashed with the citrus and vegetable notes of the salad. Had I known of Wine Director John Ragan’s adeptness at the time, I would have opted for a suggested glass. But the Dirler worked very nicely with a couple of the later courses, so all was well.

For the bread service I was presented a house-baked baguette, olive bread, cow butter, goat butter, and sea salt. The breads were both hard-crust country style. Both butters, especially the goat’s, were delicious.

Next came one of my supplements, chosen for that keyword that starts with a P:

Big Eye Tuna Tartare with Yogurt, Puffed Rice and Garden Peas.

Oh my. Peas, pea puree, pea pods, pea shoots, pea puree treated with liquid nitrogen. I’m in heaven. Couple that with an incredible tuna tartare, some puffed rice for texture, and some citrus for acidity. I had a lot of fun eating this. Some Champagne made it even more fun. While I did enjoy the tartare, I’m guessing that if the same setting were used for pretty much any other protein, I would be just as fanatic about it.

Back to the tasting menu..Organic Rabbit Rillettes with Foie Gras, Cherries and Pistachio Bread.

On paper, this dish sounded incredible. In the tangible, edible manifestation, this dish was incredible. To start, this was the best rillette I can recall eating outside of France. The flavors and mouthfeel were perfect. Would this rillette have been served with a pack of saltines, I would have been happy with it. But when combined with the variations of pistachios, cherries and alliums, the experience bordered on ethereal. The food runner told me the break the “cherry” at the top of the plate to make a nice sauce for the dish(Thinking back on it, that could be taken as(hopefully playfully) very suggestive. Though appropriate for my meal, being my first time.) This rillette, when combined with all the other elements, made for a highly cerebral, yet passionate, mouthful. I believe it took me roughly 30-35 minutes to work my way through this, constructing small, perfect bites, one at a time. This was the second moment, after the pea soup, that let me know Mr Humm played to win, and was certainly worthy of his recent acclaim(NYTimes 4* and James Beard best chef NYC).

Knoll Krest Farm Egg, Poached with Mushrooms and Asparagus Veloute. This was one of those instances in which a few simple ideas, executed perfectly, make a simply perfect idea. There was no flaw in this dish. The egg, poached precisely with a beautifully runny yolk. The veloute, ideally velvety. The mushrooms, mildly earthly and seasoned superbly. This was a harmoniously integrated masterpiece. The croutons added little in flavor(they surely had no need to) but gave the perfect crunch. This was my favorite course of the meal.

Nova Scotia Lobster, Poached with Young Carrots, Ginger, and Vadouvan Granola. Just as colorful on the palate as it was on the plate, Humm’s playfulness shined here. I tend to be more impressed by well-cooked vegetables than well-cooked proteins(not that any of either fell short this day). That being said, these carrots were certainly something special, and made a great compliment to the lobster, with just a little natural sweetness in each. Top them with a foamy ginger sabayon and a crunchy, mild Vadouvan granola and you’ve got the makings for a serious party in the mouth. I had a lot of fun eating this.

In anticipation of the lobster dish, I had ordered a glass of 2006 Premier Cru Chassagne-Montrachet by Philippe Colin. A dynamite, complex Burgundy. With great richness on top of light, tropical fruit, it seemed the right thing to do. Though when the time came, the food needed something with a little more residual sugar. Something like the last few sips of Dirler, which paired great, but was gone in a flash. My new friend Ryan(by now I was on a first-name basis with about a dozen staff members) happened to be passing by and I asked for another glass of Sylvaner. He took a quick glance at my table, then stepped behind the bar.

Ryan returned swiftly, but not with an Alsatian wine. Instead he brought 2004 Jean Thevenet Vire Clesse, another Burgundy. He explained briefly that it was a lightly botrytised chardonnay(which I’d never had from Burgundy) and gave me a taste. It had the fruit, minerality and sugar the dish needed, along with the richness that I like with the buttery lobster. I was impressed.

My second menu supplement, and last savory course of the meal: Colorado Lamb, Herb Roasted with Sucrine Lettuce, Garden Peas and Oregon Morels.

A pretty straight-forward, impeccably-executed plate of food. A tender, juicy cut of lamb with tender, juicy morels. Earth and game, delicious. The peas added a welcome fresh flavor between the heavy bites. The best part of this dish was the little lamb shoulder ravioli hidden under a tuft of pea shoots.

To pair with the lamb(actually, more for the morels) I ordered the 2000 Vigna dei Dardi Barolo by Fantino. A solid Barolo, though nothing life changing. Medium bodied, dissipated tannins. Fair acidity with mild earth made the pairing work well over all. Though if I were given a bowl full of those lamb raviolis, a bottle of this Nebbiolo would most definitely be in order.

On to dessert. “Red Velvet” Composition with Rhubarb and Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream.

I’m in a toss-up for the highlight of this overall creative dessert. It’s between the dome of cream cheese parfait, or the roasted strawberry ice cream combined with the dehydrated strawberries. They were both fantastic. The other parts of the dish, aside from the red velvet cake, were variations of strawberry and rhubarb. Lying under the ice cream was what I’m calling a rhubarb breath strip. I’m going to urge Angela Pinkerton(EMP’s pastry chef) to sell the recipe to Listerine.

Along with my “Red Velvet” dessert, my new friend Ryan showed up with another bottle. For a pairing, he brought 2005 Zweigelt Beerenauslese by Kracher. I had never come across a Zweigelt that I had liked. But I had only tried dry wines from the grape, never a late-harvest or a botrytised wine. And having loved anything I’ve tried by Kracher, I was excited to try this. It was a nice blend of light Pinot Noir-style red fruit with the concentrated, honey flavor of a BA, with a little of the botrytis spice on the back palate. A fun wine.

When I thought all was said and done and I was soon to be on my way, a plate of macarons arrived. As if the food, wine, service and atmosphere hadn’t already won me over, macarons are one of the keys to my heart. The flavors were fun. The standouts for me were the strawberry basil and the pink peppercorn with caramel.

By this time I think the dining room was empty, the bar cleared out, and I was the last diner of the service(a position I find myself in a little too frequently). When I got the bill and looked it over, I hadn’t been charged for my menu supplements or half of my wine pairings. Halfway through the meal I had let slip that I was returning for dinner that night with my friend BLT and was planning to eat and drink heavily. I’m not sure if the two-a-day had anything to do with the generosity, or if they just reward enthusiastic diners. Whatever the case, it was unnecessary, though appreciated.

It didn’t take long for EMP to become my favorite restaurant in the country. Since this first visit, seven months ago, I’ve had seven full meals, two small meals and been in a handful of other times for drinks and snacks. The menu approach has changed. There is no longer a gourmand menu, which I was fairly upset about, but got over. The food, staff and venue are all great enough to keep me coming back.

The little table in the bar remains my favorite seat in the house, though it has been replaced with a slighly larger square table. And during their remodel last fall, the kitchen doorway in the bar was removed, so there isn’t quite the amount of activity going by(which is probably preferable to most guests, but I miss it, along with hearing all the chef’s calls).

Why Eleven Madison Park sat unvisited near the top of my to-eat list for so long I’m not sure. But a meal there has become a priority when visiting NYC and I can’t justify being in the city and not stopping by. The list of accolades keeps growing for Daniel Humm and his crew(The latest of which is: sous chef James Kent is in Lyon, France as I type, prepping for the Bocuse d’Or, where he is representing the United States.) BLT and I have become well acquainted with much of the staff, and are treated extremely well. The food remains just as magical as my first meal. And I anticipate I’ll be paying many more visits in the future.

Eleven Madison Park. 11 Madison Avenue. NYC. 212.889.0905