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Eleven Madison Park


donbert
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Its a great menu; I had it on Wednesday night of last week:

We celebrated a friend's birthday at EMP on Wednesday night. Chef Humm came by to ask how many courses we wanted, and special favourites or any dislikes. We told him the number of courses was up to him, and no particular requests of anything specific tonight and no restrictions--just make what you want! He came up with a great menu, which Wine Director John Ragan paired with wines to a theme of women winemakers.

First course was absolutely stunning! It was a Royal Sterling caviar timbale with lightly smoked creme fraiche and Balik salmon. Stunning. It was a disc about an inch to inch and a half in diameter with a single layer of caviar eggs on top, middle layer was finely chopped salmon, both of which were resting on the smoked creme fraiche. I do mean stunning! The wonderful caviar (served properly, I might add, with a small ceramic spoon), the texture of the finely chopped salmon, and the slight smokiness of the creme fraiche was, as they say in New York, "to die for." It was "lox and cream cheese elevated to Versailles, pre-revolution" one might say.

Next up--a ceviche served with Satsuma tangerine and tarragon. The ceviche--it had a lovely texture that was both pleasantly chewy and tender--was cut (chopped) in just the right size, served in the middle of the plate with the tangerine and a vinegarette served on both sides. This was also wonderful. Alone, it would have made an incredible first course. WOW.

Fast becoming one of Chef Humm's signature dishes, he served a foie gras mille-feuille--a "foie gras creme brulee" if you will. Served in a small shallow bowl, the foie had a nice crust on top. But the brioche, made in house, with which he served it. The marriage was perfect! The brioche--in the shape of a disk about 3 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch in thickness made the pairing perfect. It was made with chicken, black truffles, and mushroom. Rich and decadent so be careful with this one--but the black truffle in the brioche with the creamy foie with the brulee on top was unspeakably wonderful.

When I tasted the next dish, I said to Sam--the Assistant General Manager--"Daniel hasn't been to Thailand, has he?" This dish is also wonderful but it shows the chef is branching out in his flavours. "Its like you've grown a second thumb" I said to the Chef at the end of the night. It was a coconut poached chilean fish served with a shellfish nage and a madras curry. It had elements of the coconut, lemongrass, and curry in a rich shellfish broth. Such flavor combinations that I experienced on visits to Thailand, but none with this richness, balance and complexity. The combination of flavours continues to haunt me. {Daniel--can you make this again next week for lunch?} I hope the Chef continues to explore this direction as the flavours were absolutely captivating. "It does have Chef's fingerprint on it, though" commented John Ragan, and yes it did, but to me, its a new direction he might be exploring. Wonderful!

Another dish that I continue to think about--that succulent lobster--the Nova Scotia lobster poached with crustacean sabayon, with celery and Meyer lemon. Its really the texture of the lobster that does it for me. Probably my second favourite course of the night.

We had organic pheasant roasted with riesling poached grapes, served with Black Trumpet mushrooms and oats. "Did you know they did an episode of Top Chef with oats?" I asked one of the managers? They said no, but funny that oats appear on the dish. I loved the grapes and the mushrooms--the pheasant was good but did not rise to the level of the other courses. My least favourite of the night, but the birthday girl--Ellen--absolutely went crazy over it. So, to each his or her own.

Another candidate for course of the night, and one I have had many times at EMP, was a glazed short rib and black angus beef tenderloin served with Jerusalem artichokes. The meat is unspeakably tender. And flavourful. John served it with a Burgundy--he knows I'm a burg nut--but I thought a Bordeaux would have sent this into orbit. Another one of my fav dishes.

We selected cheese from the trolly. I must say, the restaurant has really matured in their cheese selection. They have evolved from at first what might have been found in an epicurian's home cheese selection to a world class cheese cart. I was so proud to see all those great cheeses on the cart! I found myself wishing for a St. Nectaire--but some other time.

Forget the dessert--give me more of the White Misto Sorbet--served with golden pineapple and carmelized puffed rice. This was our "pre-dessert" but I really loved it. LOVED IT. This in some ways hit the spot more--because of its lightness--than the "real" dessert that followed. (By the way, Chef Humm is also in charge of pastry which he does beautifully)

Our dessert was a Caraibe Chocolate Gateaux with coffee and Piedmontese hazelnut sorbet. It was exceedingly good, but I still love the white misto sorbet, Chef!

We ended the meal with a selection of mignardises and our sweet wine. By then, it was 1:00 a.m. (a little afterwards).

The restaurant is better than I've ever seen it. There was not a single misstep.

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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  • 1 month later...
Next came the Four Story Hill Suckling Pig: Confit with Cipollini Onions, Plum Chutney and Five Spice Jus.  To put it lightly, this was an utter disaster.  I don't recall any sort of jus being on the plate, which was unfortunate because the plate needed a sauce so badly that I almost asked for a portion of the sauce that accompanied the beef.  It's possible that one of the servers forgot to sauce the plate, which I hope is the case, because if I ate the dish as it was intended by Humm...woooooo boy.  With the absence of sauce, the over-crisped skin helped achieve a level of dryness previously reserved for your aunt's grilled chicken breast.  The cipollini onion (emphasis on singular) and plum chutney were afterthoughts.  I struggled to finish the 3 oz. portion of pork. 

.....

I hope it was just an off-night, but I can't say that I will recommend this restaurant to anyone. 

I'm chiming in a few months late on this, but will say I had the exact same experience, with a version of the same dish last summer.

It seemed like an almost supernatural achievement to dry out a pork confit to the extent they did (and I think ours was prepared with duck fat .... even more impressive). The plate appeared to have been sauced with an eyedropper, as a form of psychological torture.

This was the same dish that Frank Bruni raved about, which made us suspect it had been an execution disaster.

Notes from the underbelly

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was toying around on opentables.com late last night and stumbled across BRUNCH reservations for April 12. I assume that this is a one-time exception for Easter. Unless they also do the same for Mothers' Day.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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"A credit card is required for holding this reservation because it is for the Easter holiday. Credit cards are not normally requested on OpenTable.com. Eleven Madison Park reserves the right to charge a $98 Per Person fee for any reservation not cancelled prior to 48 hours of the reservation date."

$98 pesos it looks like, but nothing on the EMP website.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was looking through a few menus around town, trying to catch the early effects of the spring season when I noticed this on the EMP menu:

FOUR STORY HILL SUCKLING PIG

A Five Course Suckling Pig Tasting Menu

______

125.

Wine Pairings 95.

It matches the cost of the 5 course spring tasting menu (new as well).

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  • 1 month later...

I was at EMP last Friday, and I have to say in retrospect it was a fantastic experience in every way.

My wife and I did the Eleven Gourmand tasting menu. I'm going to have a tough time detailing each and every course, but across the board it was wonderful. My wife does not eat seafood, and as a result they were happy to sub out some of her courses, and what she got in place, were some fantastic items. A spectacular tartare with pickled veg around it, a suckling pig course, are the two that really stood out. The seafood was wonderful as well.. there was a sabayon in an egg shell that was extremely tasty - and I'm trying to remember the fish in the broth with the beans - another great course.

But then a couple of things really shot the dinner over the top.

When the meat courses came out for my wife (substitute), the kitchen delivered the full portion course (as opposed to a tasting menu size) - which was fine by me for sampling both, but as the meal went on, I started getting nervous about being able to finish.

Then the final course came out (right after a veal course, that you could cut the veal with a fork it was so tender)..

Two runners came out with their signature whole muscovy duck in lavender and honey with the giant sprigs of (rosemary? -or were they lavender?).. It was embarrassing - thinking that the whole duck was for the two of us. It was spectacular - and while we were in the middle of that course, Chef Humm came around and we chuckled about the courses and some of the portions - and about the size of the duck. He said they were talking about that in the kitchen, and for us to not feel obligated to finish the duck (we took a doggy bag).. Really, the duck alone was worth the trip.

But then, sensing our food fatigue, our waiter offered us the opportunity to stretch our legs with a kitchen tour, which is always a welcome diversion and fun to see the workings of a kitchen nearing the end of service.. (as well as allowing us to catch our breath before tackling cheese and dessert).

The meal finished off with some good cheese selections - a deconstructed malted milk shake pre-dessert - which was fantastic, and then this wonderful peanut/chocolate bar, with popcorn and popcorn dust. For dessert we were offered a couple of glasses of a lightly sparkling red italian dessert wine, and then the usual mignardises and coffee.

There was good interaction with the staff, they were perfect in terms of service, and by the end we were really enjoying ourselves a lot. It's good that we were, as we were there a little earlier than our 8:30 res, and left at about 1am.

Bravo..

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  • 2 weeks later...

After a few lunch visits where I ordered off the regular menu, I finally went with the gourmand lunch tasting menu and felt like I was eating at an entirely different restaurant. I talked a little with the manager and he confirmed that the lunch tasting menu is really done in the spirit of dinner, while the regular lunch menu is generally more rustic. My own translation of this is complexity, lunch ingredients are presented whole, maybe 3 or 4 separate whole, yet well paired items/ingredients to a plate, whereas the tasting menu combined different items and tastes into an overall more complex dish and flavor profile.

Menu:

Chilled Green Garlic soup with crayfish bavarois (amuse)

Hawaiian Blue Prawn

Roulade with Avocado, Lime and Greek Yogurt

Foie Gras

Terrine with Rhubarb, Celery and Pickled Ramps, Indonesian Pepper Brioche

Atlantic Turbot

Slow Cooked with Spring Peas, Lemon Thyme and Terre Bormane Olive Oil

Suckling Pig (I requested that the Milk Fed Veal be substituted for anything else)

Morels, Morel Panna Cotta and Fava Beans

Citrus Variations

Orange Mousse with Fennel, Candied Olives and Grapefruit Sorbet

Tasting of all house Macarons (comped? no idea? Might be regular, just trying to be "ethical" here)

So to recap: a crayfish (I think NOLA) bavarois (Bavarian), then Hawaiian (Hawaii) Prawns rolled in avocado like a sushi roll (I thought japan) with Greek (Greek) Yogurt and edible leaves/flowers (I thought CA), then Indonesian Pepper (Indonesia) Brioche & Torchon (France) with Strawberry Salt and Muscat gelee (Italy?), then Thai (Thailand) curry - it was like a global "tour de force" and we were only 3 courses in. Infinitely more complex than the lunch menu.

Of course introducing and mixing all these flavors carries a risk. The flavor profile of the roulade was foreign to me, although I believe that it was to have tasted exactly as it did. The foie torchon was so strong tasting that only the brilliant pepper brioche stood a chance, the rhubarb et. al were pretty much unable to hang. I loved the turbot dish, the Thai flavors were really in harmony with the snap peas and the raw (guessing due to sous-vide) texture of the cooked fish. The morels were as tasty as any I've had this season, and dessert was really interesting, with tons of flavors to explore - crazy stuff like candied fennel bulb, candied olives, candied kumquats, blood oranges, grapefruits and fennel dust.

In the end its a shame that this tasting menu is likely to sit around for a few months before changing, I'd love to continue to eat this way during lunch. But if like me, you've eaten lunch but not the tasting menu, worth noting that there's a whole different ballgame out there.

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After a few lunch visits where I ordered off the regular menu, I finally went with the gourmand lunch tasting menu and felt like I was eating at an entirely different restaurant.

Had the exact same menu recently and I couldn't agree more. If you break this down it's in the same league as JG from a value standpoint (four courses plus dessert at JG will run you $64 compared to $68 for the gourmand menu at EMP), and having just returned from lunch at JG I feel pretty confident saying the gourmand menu at EMP delivers considerably more complex and refined cooking. The foie gras dish on the gourmand menu actually carries a supplement at dinner!

The cost of entry is higher, but if you look at the whole package I think this is one of the great lunch deals in town right now.

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After a few lunch visits where I ordered off the regular menu, I finally went with the gourmand lunch tasting menu and felt like I was eating at an entirely different restaurant.

Had the exact same menu recently and I couldn't agree more. If you break this down it's in the same league as JG from a value standpoint (four courses plus dessert at JG will run you $64 compared to $68 for the gourmand menu at EMP), and having just returned from lunch at JG I feel pretty confident saying the gourmand menu at EMP delivers considerably more complex and refined cooking. The foie gras dish on the gourmand menu actually carries a supplement at dinner!

The cost of entry is higher, but if you look at the whole package I think this is one of the great lunch deals in town right now.

But it also sounds like the inexpensive lunch prix fixe at JG is a better bet than the inexpensive lunch prix fixe at 11 Madison Park. Right?

[Edited to say: Who needs 5 courses including dessert for lunch at JG? That would be a HUMONGOUS meal!]

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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But it also sounds like the inexpensive lunch prix fixe at JG is a better bet than the inexpensive lunch prix fixe at 11 Madison Park. Right?

[Edited to say: Who needs 5 courses including dessert for lunch at JG? That would be a HUMONGOUS meal!]

I'd read Bryans breakdown above, he did an excellent job comparing the two.

And while I wouldn't hesitate (myself) to answer a resounding YES to your question above, I would add that if I could definitely only spend the $28 and nothing more, then I would almost have to pick EMP since 2 courses at JG would leave me hungry, whereas at EMP it does not.

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  • 2 months later...

Last night I finally experienced the 11 course Gourmand menu at EMP. One word describes it: exquisite! Dinner took well over 4 hours (with well spaced pauses between each course). My favorites were: caviar (served in its tin) over panna cotta and sturgeon; heirloom tomatoes covered with a cloud of foam, tomato tartare and tomato sorbet with granola; sea urchin capuccino over crab and cauliflower; lobster poached with lemon verbena and flavors of ratatouille. Desserts were wonderful too: "strawberries and champagne": strawberry sorbet, lemon gelee and champagne emulsion; and a chocolate raspberry dish with raspberry sorbet. Service was its usual perfection. I wish more restaurants would stress service as much as does EMP. Chef Humm visited with all of the tables; he is very sweet and genuinely seem interested in his diners.

I have a dinner reservation next month at Per Se, and all I can say is that Per Se has a tough act to beat.

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Last night I finally experienced the 11 course Gourmand menu at EMP.  One word describes it:  exquisite!

Eater reported this week that Bruni has been spotted three times in recent weeks at EMP. As Eater noted, "either Fantastic Frank is milking his expense account for all it's worth, or Danny Meyer could have a four star restaurant on his hands."
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Last night I finally experienced the 11 course Gourmand menu at EMP.  One word describes it:  exquisite!

Eater reported this week that Bruni has been spotted three times in recent weeks at EMP. As Eater noted, "either Fantastic Frank is milking his expense account for all it's worth, or Danny Meyer could have a four star restaurant on his hands."

EMP definitely deserves the four stars; I hope they get it.

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I am going on Friday after a VERY long hiatus, looking forward to it though I doubt we'll do the 11-course tasting menu.  I'll report back.

Went last night for the Champagne BYO. Food was terrific.

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Thanks.  All right, I'll give the place another try.

Curious as to why you asked whether I was dining alone. I am glad that you'll give EMP another try; I don't think you would be disappointed.

Because I generally dine alone and was interested in how you were treated. The last time I was there it was by myself and I felt a bit rushed.

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Thanks.  All right, I'll give the place another try.

Curious as to why you asked whether I was dining alone. I am glad that you'll give EMP another try; I don't think you would be disappointed.

Because I generally dine alone and was interested in how you were treated. The last time I was there it was by myself and I felt a bit rushed.

While I've never dined alone at EMP, the service could not have been more well spaced between courses. Anytime I've had the feeling I'm being rushed at a restaurant, I'll mention to the captain that I am in no hurry (especially if the staff might think that I'm going to the theatre). I know when I do dine alone, I dislike having lengthy pauses between my courses (definitely still would not want to feel rushed).

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I made it a point when I made my reservation on OpenTable that I was having the Gourmand menu.

I went, I was conquered.    :laugh:

While it doesn't replace PerSe in my heart, it's a damn great rival.

I'm going to Per Se in 2 weeks to celebrate my big 5-0 (and my mom's big 8-5); I look forward to see how Per Se compares to EMP. I've always loved Per Se.

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