NYC Dining: Eleven Madison Park


Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave, New York, NY
(212) 889-0905

Last week, I turned 37 years old. Not quite mid-life crisis time, but its been a very busy and sometimes difficult year, with my launching of Off The Broiler and my parting of the ways with eGullet. I always go out to dinner on my birthday, but this year I wanted to do something special: Top notch service at a fine restaurant in Manhattan, and a quintessential NYC dining experience in a majestic space.

I was originally thinking about going back to Gramercy Tavern again, perhaps testing out Michael Anthony in his new digs, but alas, I was informed by his commander-in-chief, Danny Meyer, that he was not ready yet (his new menu is ramping up in January) but perhaps I should try Eleven Madison Park instead, as the place was just now getting into its rhythm with Chef Daniel Humm now fully acclimated and running in full gear. It doesn’t take much arm twisting for Danny Meyer to convince me, as I trust him unquestionably when it comes to matters of fine dining.

I had been through the Eleven Madison Park space a number of times in the past, as it’s ground zero for the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party and is next to Tabla, the other USHG restaurant that shares the old Metropolitan Life executive offices. It certainly fits the bill for being a phenomenal space in a genuine New York City setting. However, we had never eaten there and I didn’t know much about Chef Humm, only that he was young (30) and he worked at a 3-Star Michelin restaurant in Switzerland, and then went on to become the Executive Chef at Campton Place in San Francisco. It didn’t occur to me, however, that he would be producing such high-level haute cuisine at Eleven Madison Park, because the restaurant’s previous chef was doing a more rustic type of food, and EMP doesn’t often come up in foodie conversation when one talks about the top haute destinations in the city.

Having now had Chef Humm’s cuisine, I have to say that Eleven Madison Park is currently flying under the radar as one of the best fine dining establishments in the city, and is being overshadowed by the (legitimately earned) reputation and promotion of its siblings, THE MODERN and Gramercy Travern. The level of cuisine here, as you’ll see in these photos, is on par with either of those two restaurants, and with some of the better known haute meccas in the city.

This space used to be an executive briefing center for the Metropolitan Life Insurance company.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link for food photos and commentary.


The main dining room is a stunning space, with cathedral-like ceilings.

The bar area

The private dining kitchen overlooks the main dining room.

The Eleven Madison Park Cocktail

Amuse

Scottish Langoustine “En Gelée de Bouillabaisse” with Osetra Caviar

Diver Scallops and Nova Scotia Lobster, Ceviche with Orange and Tarragon

Fantasy of Eggs; Sea Urchin, Organic Egg, Osetra Caviar

Nova Scotia Lobster; Poached with Orange Carrot Nage and Bouchot Mussels

Turbot Aiguillette with Saffron Fumet and “Fleur de Courgette Farçie”

Hudson Valley Foie Gras Seared with Apples, Crumble of “Pain d’épices” and Banyuls Jus

Four Story Hill Farm Cote du Veau, Herb Roasted “En Lasagne” with Oregon Chanterelles

Lynnhaven Chèvre with Capezzana Olive Oil, “Mignonette de Quatre Baies”.

Of all the courses we had, we felt this one was the least successful. While the chevre itself was of excellent quality, the dish itself overall was bland. Having just exited a course that already incorporated chanterelle mushrooms, going to this cheese amuse right before dessert was somewhat of a snoozer. I think it could have been improved with the addition of a sweet element, such as a nice aged balsamico or perhaps some candied fruit. Chevre to me is more befitting of a supporting role in a cheese course, not as the focus. The toasted bread was also doused in olive oil, which I thought was overkill.

The first of the desserts by Pastry Chef Nicole Kaplan, a frozen hot Chocolate with a Coconut Foam and Desiccated Coconut Powder. This actually reminded us of the signature frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3, the famous hippy-dippy candy shop/ice cream parlor/cafe on East 60th. The desiccated coconut and the foam was a nice touch.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Soufflé with Gianduja Ganache and Espresso Bean Ice Cream

Petit Fours/Mignardises

Chef Daniel Humm

27 Responses to NYC Dining: Eleven Madison Park

  1. rich says:

    Jason,

    You parted ways with eGullet? L’Shanna Tova!

    Rich

  2. One of those amuses look just like an amuse item I had at 3-star L’Arnsbourg last December. See here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulteriorepicure/72859118/

    That turbot and the chevre both look spectacular!! Thanks for the post!

  3. Raindog says:

    For what it’s worth, eGullet’s a far cry from what it once was. Or, for that matter, what it might have become. This isn’t the forum for gripes such as that, but suffice to say that it’s suffered from your absence.

  4. fiat lux says:

    Happy (belated) birthday!

  5. Bux says:

    I’ve been hearing great things about Eleven Madison Park although perhaps the restaurant’s name doesn’t come up as often as it will, if what I hears holds true. At any rate, I’m not surprised at your choice, based on what I’ve heard. Neither am I surprised to hear of interest in what Mike Anthony will do at Gramercy Tavern. Jennifer Leuzzi quoted Danny Meyer as saying the restaurant “has a defined style to maintain: ‘I expect Gramercy Tavern to evolve and march in a straight line forward.'” I expect some major evolution there in a relatively short time. “Evolution,” “straight line” and “short time” are all relative, of course, but based on past performance, as well as conversations with Mike in the Stone Barns kitchens, I have great respect for his talent as well as his intellect. It’s no secret that I’ve felt I’ve eaten as well at Blue Hill and Stone Barns as I have at places such as Per Se, Daniel or le Bernardin.

    Eleven Madison Park had further to go than GT to be a challenging restaurant, although in many ways I was happy enough when EMP satisfied my requirements for a great brasserie serving traditional dishes done well, which it usually did. Appetizers were usually excellent. Main courses sometimes fell short of being what they should be. On occasion, a dish suffered not because it was missing something, but rather from unsuccessfully trying to contain too many flavors or ingredients. It’s a great space, maybe the best restaurant space in Manhattan. It can happily contain a great brasserie, or serve challenging haute cuisine. I use the word “challenging” to describe exactly the sort of food the Union Square Hospitality Group has shied away from since inception–at least until The Modern. It appears to have been a wise business move, but NY has become an even more sophisticated dining city in the past few years and Danny Meyer, himself, has always been at home at the most elegant tables serving haute cuisine. I’m not all that surprised to see him stretch the ground his restaurants are covering in this direction.

    eG is another story, and Raindog hits the nail on the head when he says it’s a far cry from being what it might have been. I know I missed some of the signs it was moving in the wrong direction. It’s been just about a year since I resigned from management in protest of what I saw as disingenuous misuse of the forums by the executive director with the support of other top management personnel. Not only were my posts debating the official stance on a thread removed, but after tending a resignation, my name was kept on the staff list for seventeen days while I was forbidden to post. Perhaps the time has come to air the dirt and discuss this all someplace.

  6. Raindog says:

    Re: Bux’s post above, I’ve often wondered just what it was that went down at eGullet to pull things so far off course. I lurk there far more often than I post, although I’ve been visiting the site regularly since 2003 (as JohnnyH). If there’s to be a place/time to “air the dirt” I’d love to know where and when.

  7. Malawry says:

    Happy birthday, Jason! Looks like a fabulous celebratory meal.

  8. Steve says:

    Somehow I evaded the Stalinist purges at eGullet, but I will post there nevermore.

    eG used to be a freewheeling site where we could discuss food and culture. Now they evict anyone who does not bow at the Temple of Food or attempts to inject humor into the discussion.

    It’s really pretty sad.

  9. rich says:

    Sorry. I hope I didn’t open a can of worms with my inquiry. I simply was unaware of your (Jason) departure from eGullet. I assumed that this blog was simply a creative outlet where you could focus on your writing and display it to a wider audience.

    -rich

  10. There will definitely be a place for discussing it, but this isn’t the forum for it. All in good time.

  11. bourdain says:

    I, too have become utterly disenchanted with eGullet. It;s become the domain of “Comic Book Guy” from the Simpsons–basically talking to himself. A real pity to see what’s become of it as it once showed such promise.
    The pics from 11 Madison look mighty fine.

    Happy Birthday, Jason.

  12. Alex says:

    What Tony said, and more.

    Looking forward to the time and place.

    Enjoy 37, Jason. And you’re right — plenty of time left for a mid-life crisis.

  13. These are some of the best Web site photos we’ve ever seen of Eleven Madison Park, as the verticals really capture the grandeur of the space that is one of our favorite dining rooms in New York City.

    We enjoyed many special occasions at EMP in the days when Steve Beckta (now of Beckta Dining & Wine in Ottawa, one of Canada’s best restaurants) was on the door and talented chef Kerry Heffernan in the kitchen. We were in for lunch during Restaurant Week this summer, and were impressed on all counts — including with new chef Daniel Humm’s food.

    Looking forward to our return for another special occasion — especially after seeing these photos! Thanks — and Happy Birthday, Jason!

  14. fiat lux says:

    For what it’s worth, I gave up on eG after the second time my account was disabled. Considering that I rarely posted, it was more likely to have been disabled due to inactivity than for any other reason, but it was too much of a hassle to reactivate after the 2nd time, so I let it go.

  15. Suzanne F says:

    Happy birthday, Jason!

    Great pictures — now it’s time to redouble efforts to get there.

  16. Happy Birthday, Jason! Beautiful pictures of what seems like a beautiful meal. Glad that it was a good one.

  17. Scott says:

    I agree with ya, this place is underrated for sure. Haven’t been there since the new chef took over but have had a fantastic experience every other time I’ve been, including the rehearsal dinner for my wedding…beautiful space, great service, solid food.

  18. spamwise says:

    Stunning pix as always.

    Feliz cumpleanos!

  19. pixelchef says:

    Gorgeous work, as usual — both with the visuals, and with your comments/insights. Keep it up! eGullet is… a joke in it’s current state. A shell of it’s former self. But, here’s to the future!

  20. jack says:

    i still can’t believe NYC stole Chef Humm from us here in San Francisco… glad you’ve had a chance to enjoy his considerable skill.

  21. Gordo says:

    Nice pictures and nice words

  22. patti says:

    Jason, when it is the right time and place for the discussion, will you let your readers here know when and where?

  23. Patti, someday I may decide to talk about it. But right now I am concentrating on my work on OTB and other things. Suffice to say, I have many creative differences with how eG has now turned out, I no longer support the aims of the organization nor its management, and I have chosen to completely disassociate myself with it. That being said, I have no interest in going into vast detail as to how I found myself separated from the organization I created — it just would make me sound bitter and disgruntled. I’m very happy with what I am doing now and I know I made the right choice in leaving and doing something else.

  24. patti says:

    OK, thanks, I didn’t mean to pry or put you on the spot. I’d read of your departure, but hoped I’d still see you and Rachel in the forums occasionally. A few days ago, I looked for recent posts of yours and noticed on your profile that you hadn’t checked in since late August. Then I looked at Rachel’s profile and noticed that she hadn’t checked in since August, either. (I’m not a stalker, really!) So that’s when I figured that there were probably other reasons for your leaving than simply new interests. Anyway, it’s none of my business, really, so I’ll be quiet already. Er, or I’ll be quiet about it after one more paragraph.

    I’ve never been one of the more sophisticated eGullet people. Just a home cook who is interested in trying new things, likes reading about what others are doing, and LOVES all of the gorgeous food porn. Because of eGullet, I’ve used ingredients I’d never even heard of, tried techniques completely foreign to me, and really stepped outside the box of the usual Cajun fare. That being said, I was probably never the target audience for the forums, and lurk much more than I post. Thanks for starting the place!

  25. Marlene says:

    Happy Birthday Jason! I really enjoyed my dinner at Eleven Madison a few weeks ago and it looks as though your pictures did stunning justice to both the space and the food!

  26. spamwise says:

    Had dinner here on Saturday evening with a couple of friends. From reports on this post and elsewhere, it seems that Chef Humm’s cooking has become more confident as time goes by.

    If it isn’t on your list yet, what are you waiting for? :)

  27. […] just about that of every professional restaurant kitchen I have ever been in, with the exception of Eleven Madison Park and The Four […]

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