Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave, New York, NY
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
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
Chef Daniel Humm