I concluded my last fine dining meal of my NYC trip at the venerable Eleven Madison Park.
AE Platinum Concierge FTW.
Ambiance & Service:
The dining is spacious with high ceilings which gives out a more corporate feel. Despite its jacket required dress code, I saw a 4 top without anyone wearing a jacket. On the other hand, service was on point. The staff was attentive without being overbearing and they were generally more personable than Le Bernardin’s.
It’s an 8 course tasting menu but 3 of the courses had 3 choices each. So it’s a a no brainer that my fiance and I each picked a different course for those 3 courses AND ignored the vegan options.
A box of mystery item was already placed at each table upon my arrival at the restaurant.
Amuse Bouche: Black & White Cookie with Cheddar and Apple
We were instructed to open the box and were presented with two interesting looking cookies. They tasted like an elevated Ritz Cheese Cracker Sandwiches.
Dosa with Goat Cheese & Green Tomato
Next, we were presented with a trio of “dishes”. Let’s go through them one by one. What’s a dosa? According to Wiki, it’s “a pancake from the Indian subcontinent, made from a fermented batter.” This particular one is rolled into a stick so each bite was layers of crispy flavorful bomb by itself. You can even spice it up by dipping it into the goat cheese shavings and what tasted like a super fresh tomato marmalade which gives the snack an extra dimension of umami. I’m guessing that this acts as a salty/sweet component of the first course.
Second part of this first course, which acts as a palate cleanser, is very interesting. It’s a tomato tea meant to be sipped and enjoyed with other components of this course. How do I describe the taste? Hmm…it straddles between a refreshing tomato water in the freshest possible way and a light but savory tomato sauce. The bouquet of micro basil nicely added extra fragrance to this tea.
Tomato Salad with Summer Berries
This final component of the first course gives you that acid/sweet combination. Each tomato is hand peeled and pickled. I suppose the acidic nature of the tomato is supposed to be countered by the sweet berries but I ran out of berries to temper the tanginess! Overall, it’s a nice and light first course.
Tableside service for our second course. Our server proceeds to cut off only the exposed portion of each souffle top and carted back the leftovers. I hope the kitchen reuses the leftovers?
Corn Souffle with Caviar and Bonito
Spectacular! The immensely light and fresh tasting corn souffle is basically a sweet cloud which acted as the perfect vehicle to soap up that tangy bonito cream. Finally, now that you got sweet and tangy, you throw that briny caviar into the mix which gives the moist cloud of a souffle additional flavor and popping texture contrast. I can eat a million of these!
Bread and Butter
Warm. Buttery. Flaky crust. Moist and fluffy interior. No idea what bread this is but it’s right up there along with the best I’ve had! There’s no need for additional butter but moah butta makes it moah betta! The cheese crumbles on top of the butter just put it over the top in the best possible way!
I wish I had more than just 2 of these babies. What was I thinking?!
Option #1: Crab Salad with Zucchini and Lemon
#makeitnice? The neatness of some of these courses somewhat bothered me.
Good-. Another light and refreshing course. It’s got bits of fresh sweet crab sitting under those perfectly placed zucchini which gives the dish a differing texture.
Option #2: Seared Foie Gras with Plum and Duck Prosciutto
Another wowzer! Finally there’s more heft to this meal! I have no idea what the crispy bits are that are sitting atop the perfectly seared foie (maybe also prosciutto?) but it really made the dish immensely savory. The crispy bits and soft creamy foie made a real impression on me. As if that’s not enough, you can lighten up this dish by pairing it with the piquant plum sauce and fresh sweet plum.
Option #1: Butter-Poached and Charred Lobster with Greens and Bean Ecrasse
Good. Perfectly cooked lobster but lacking any spark. It’s another “light and simple” course.
Option #2: Slow Cooked Striped Bass with Cucumbers and Green Tomato
Good+. Fish was moist and flaky and contrasted well with the slightly chewy texture of what I think are strips of kombu(?) and seaweed (?). It was paired with another light, fresh, and tangy cucumber and tomato sauce.
The chef made sure these are dead.
Grilled Snails with Chanterelles and Onion
A-Okay. We were given tweezers to take out the grilled shrooms & local snails and make ourselves a taco. Inside the taco were fermented mint, some shroom sauce, pickled something, and cucumber marmalade(?) so you got the sweet, salty, acidic elements to go with the mystery leafs and char, bitter, and earthy flavors of the skewer.
Option #1: Honey and Lavender Glazed Duck with Blueberries and Onion
Great. Duck was dry aged for 2 weeks in house. It’s deeply savory in combination with the umami laden jus. It’s also got a touch of fragrant sweetness from the glaze which adds to the complexity. Every now and then, I switched over to the mildly sweet and sour blueberries and onion mountain on the side to reset my palate.
Option #2: Dry Aged Rib-Eye and Grilled Red Peppers
Good+. This monster was dry aged for 140 days! It’s got a bit of an inexplicable nutty flavor but I still prefer some good old A4-A5 Japanese Wagyu though.
Side #1: Zucchini with Lemon and Mint
Good. Competently made with zucchini in multiple state…we got raw slices and grilled/baked chunks to go along with a lemon mint sauce with bits of buttery croutons for a bit of crunch and savoriness. The flavor balance of each component was good which makes this another light and refreshing dish.
Side #2: Creamed Corn with Juniper and Grated Egg Yolk
Great. Creamy AF with slaps of fresh corn topped over creamed corn.
Option #1: Blackberry Ice Cream and Granita with Caramelized Milk and Lemon
Good-. Each component tasted fine but there wasn’t additional points given when they’re eaten together. And imagine trying to share this TINY dessert with another person!
Option #2: Peach Compote and Shingles with Honey Custard
A-Okay. Tasted like a peach pie with ice cream to me.
Chocolate Sorbet with Shortbread and Coffee Meringue
#makeitnice. Gosh it’s annoying that they keep making everything so neat! Stop it!
Cross section shot. Despite my annoyance, it was actually made with lots of thoughts behind it and tasted really really good! This chocolate crusted chocolate sorbet/coffee meringue got many permutations of flavor pairings you can go with depending on how you cut into it since different sections of the top is garnished with coffee granita(?), chocolate bits, shortbread crumbles, and coffee bits.
Chocolate Covered Pretzel
Our meal ended with this perfect salty bite.
Parting gift of a multi-nut granola and our menu in a tin can
The granola is ridiculously addictive. Super yummy.
No fancy meal is complete without a kitchen tour!
Their kitchen is unusually large.
Vanilla Ice Cream covered with Strawberry Jam and Sour Snow
Sweet and sour. Meh.
@PorkyBelly I didn’t forget about you.
My meal at EMP was solid enough but lacking in creativity in many courses. The restaurant seems laser focused on making every dish light, clean, and simple…almost to a fault. Even so, it’s a better meal than what I had the previous night at Le Bernardin but far off from my spectacular meal at CT. Lastly, is is offensive to my fellow FTC’ers to say that I find Californios, Manresa, and TFL much better and more satisfying than Le Bernardin and EMP? At least my fiancee agrees. The hell with the ridiculous World 50’s Best! Let me know your thoughts!
By the way, Sergio was off vacationing in LA on the night of my meal. Shame!
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010