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donbert

Eleven Madison Park

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Ellen..Happy 50 to you & 85 to your Mom........what a wonderful joint occasion to enjoy & remember forever! We had lunch at EMP. I had become disenchanted.......... and I am reconverted. I can't wait to return!

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Ellen..Happy 50 to you & 85 to your Mom........what a wonderful joint occasion to enjoy & remember forever! We had lunch at EMP. I had become disenchanted..........  and I am reconverted. I can't wait to return!

Thanks so much for the good wishes! :smile:

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My wife and I had dinner at EMP last night, and had the Gourmand menu (without the wine pairing, we stuck to cocktails). Overall I thought the food was very good, with several things that were really excellent, and a few clunkers. But holy crap is that a lot of food (when ordering eleven courses you actually end up with more like fifteen!). By the end it was definitely just one or two bites of each course for evaluation purposes. I think I've got the order right below, but I may have a few transposed.

Sterling Royal Caviar

Served in a caviar tin with the generous serving of caviar covering the whole top layer, this was a nice dish to start out with (if you like caviar).

Bread & Butter

Two very large circles of butter were brought out, from two different farms. One was a goat's milk butter, and one a cow's milk butter. The bread was so-so, but the butters were both very good, in particular the goat's milk butter, which was excellent.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Of course, not a plate of tomatoes, but rather three separate preparations. This course was quite large considering the number of courses it would be followed by. Two of the tomato preparations were very good, and one was not (Cooking Heirlooms at this time of year seems a waste to me, but if it had tasted good I would forgive it. Alas, it did not.) The other two were essentially raw preparations and showcased the tomatoes extremely well.

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin

Served in a white ceramic sea urchin-shaped bowl, this was good but not great.

Foie Gras

The little card here in front of me says "Mille-Feuille with greenmarket plums, umeboshi and bitter almonds." I'm glad I have the cheat-sheet they provided, because my memory of this dish is that it was forgettable, which makes me a little sad because I love foie.

Atlantic Halibut

A very well-cooked piece of fish: excellent.

Nova Scotia Lobster

Very tasty, with an excellent flavor profile and sequence, but I felt that the lobster was slightly overcooked. Not terribly so, and it could also be a species difference that I am unaware of.

Everglades Frogs Legs

Served in a (chicken) egg shell, I enjoyed this one, but my wife didn't care for the funky flavor profile.

Smoked Pork Belly

This one isn't on the cheat sheet as it's a new dish they are playing with: pork belly served under a glass hood filled with what I think was Applewood smoke. I am a huge sucker for both pork belly and smoke, so I thought this was very good. Unfortunately, I can also comment from experience that the smell of the smoke most likely interfered with other diners' meals. We were eating another course when a table about ten feet from us received this course and the smell from the smoke drifted over and clearly changed the course we were eating at the time.

Elysian Fields Farm Lamb

Absolutely terrific lamb course, and gigantic serving considering where it was in the meal. Perfectly cooked, excellent flavors, really magnificent.

Warm Towel

OK, you don't eat this, but I thought it was an interesting presentation: a small towel, rolled up on the plate and covered with fresh herbs, over which warm water was poured. Smelled great, and quite refreshing.

Cheese Selection

I love cheese, but am not a connoisseur so can't really judge the selection or the quality. I ate some and it was good.

Strawberries & Champagne

An excellent dessert of strawberries covered with what appears at first to be whipped cream, but is in fact a champagne emulsion. Probably the most successful foam I have ever run across, it not only tasted like champagne, but managed to capture the texture as well.

Macarons

OK, but not great, a little flawed in the execution from a technical standpoint (as compared to the macarons served at Table 8 on Monday, for example).

Jivara Chocolate

OMG why are they serving a chocolate mousse after all that?! The taste was fine but not amazing, and the raspberry gel was too firm. Maybe this is the very, very full stomach talking, but this course seemed like a wholly inappropriate way to end the meal.

Cognac

Just in case we had not had enough to drink (nursing various cocktails the whole evening), they brought a bottle of Cognac whose name escapes me and kindly left it at the table for us to "enjoy as much as we wanted." An empty threat at that point, since I suspect we looked like we wanted to curl up under the table and take a nap, but it was a nice cognac.

Snacks!

And, for the subway ride home since we must have appeared hungry, a small box of pate de fruit. I left them for the housekeeping staff at the hotel.

Is this an NYT four-star restaurant? The service was excellent, the space is beautiful, and the majority of the food ranged from very good to excellent, but there is clear room for improvement, I think. Some of the sequencing seemed odd to me, the bread was mediocre, 1/3 of the tomato course was actively bad, and a few other things only rung up "OK" on the scale. From my understanding of the rating system, that's not describing four stars, it's describing three, or maybe even two. Which of course means four is virtually guaranteed! We'll find out soon enough...


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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.

Can you elaborate on this? From what I can tell, you also dine regularly enough at Per Se that you get some extra perks when you go. It fascinates me that you would come close to comparing the two on the same scale, need more details!

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I'm not Bobster, but I've had the fortune to dine at Per Se a dozen or so times, and at EMP probably 20 or so times.

They are different animals, and I would happily dine at either one any evening.

That said, I'd give the nod to Eleven Madison Park from my personal point of view. To me, the key difference is in the style of cooking. Per Se tends to be quite technical in its excellence. EMP tends to be more 'soulful' in its excellence. I've often said "Per Se is technical; EMP has food with a 'soul.'"

Per Se is slightly more formal in its setting and FOH style; EMP is a touch more informal though both are at the top echelon.

Happy to elaborate but that would sum up my feeling of the two places.


Edited by DutchMuse (log)

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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.

Can you elaborate on this? From what I can tell, you also dine regularly enough at Per Se that you get some extra perks when you go. It fascinates me that you would come close to comparing the two on the same scale, need more details!

To fascinates, I would add shocked, surprised, etc. Per Se is the best dining experience in New York if not the entire country! EMP is not in the same league as Per Se.


Edited by sethd (log)

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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 believe you Bobster, with no qualifications.


“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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Wow, reading some responses I feel like I've stabbed Thomas Keller! I really didn't mean to sound like that.

I found EMP this time to be great at what it set out to do. It is not on the level of PerSe nor do I think it means to be. PerSe itself was designed to be its own animal--I don't believe, in my limited knowledge, that there's been any other place in NYC that composes an entire meal/tasting for you daily, painstakingly mixing dishes based on what is in season and what is found to be the freshest.

Perhaps I should have said that EMP was the best I've had comparible to similar places like Le Bernardin and Jean-Georges (the latter was at lunch but there were some minor "glitches"). Perhaps it was because I had said I was having the Gourmand menu from the start but I was treated with a level of respect from the start that is rare for me to experience as a "newer" diner to a place. Even when I've gone back to Le B and J-G I've still at times felt I was an "intruder". Yes, I understand that it is NOT everything about a place but when a guy like me is made welcome, it helps.

Chris, I'm sorry there were flaws in your dinner. My food was very delicious with the original flavors of whatever the leading item is coming thru well.

When I go back to EMP I fill probably try other things unless the Gourmand has changed a lot. Several people had the duck which I really am interested in trying.

I can see myself possibly going back to EMP annually.

PerSe? Yeah, yeah, now it's up to 3 times a year. My Extended meal, 21 courses, WAS heaven. I still can't believe how lighter than air I felt when I walked out. It was similar to what other people have had but I'll write it up if you'd like. :wub:

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So Bruni reviews this place for the third time this evening/tomorrow. Four stars is the bet to place here. Would be amazing for them. And a big f-you to Michelin, too.

Funnily enough I just booked dinner here in a couple of weeks for to celebrate/mourn my leaving the city. Hope they don't jack the price of the Gourmand if they get the (much deserved) good news.

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So Bruni reviews this place for the third time this evening/tomorrow.  Four stars is the bet to place here.  Would be amazing for them.  And a big f-you to Michelin, too.

Funnily enough I just booked dinner here in a couple of weeks for to celebrate/mourn my leaving the city.  Hope they don't jack the price of the Gourmand if they get the (much deserved) good news.

Would this make Humm the youngest chef to receive four stars from a NYT critic?


“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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Would this make Humm the youngest chef to receive four stars from a NYT critic?

Nah. Eric Ripert was only 30 when he got his four stars.

I'm sure there are others, but he was the first to spring to mind.

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Daniel Boulud got four stars at Le Cirque when he was 32, the same age as Daniel Humm. (Actually, Humm might be 33 -- I don't know what his date of birth is, only that he was born in 1976.)


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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There's been discussion over the past weeks, months, and years as to whether Bruni would put his own stamp on the "new" four-star restaurant.

I think this passage is accurate and sums up both EMP and the present state of NYC's high-end dining scene.

Eleven Madison Park provides much of the ceremony and pampering associated with fine dining at its most traditional in a way that’s louder, looser and more in sync with most diners’ temperaments

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That's some review, and I'm very happy for all involved. I've got to say, based on the few meals I've had there, that I'm a little surprised. I haven't been in a while though, and so I'll return to update my perspective.

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Having eaten there just last week, I can't say I was surprised by the review, exactly, but maybe a little disappointed. To me four stars implies near perfection, and while Bruni may have indeed received that in his visits, mine was well shy of that mark. Not a bad meal by any means, and I will certainly go back, but four stars? At any rate, congratulations to Chef Humm and company, I suspect the party this evening will be pretty exuberant, and well-deserved.


Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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great review. congratulations to mr. humm and the staff.

my friend and i are planning on the 5-course next week, but now i'm considering the gourmand. any recos?

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Just returned from EMP, site of my first Gourmand meal which ended just a short while ago. From walking in, it was clear the staff had an extra pep in their step, and any doubt that a four star review was coming left me quite quickly. Not saying they knew for 100% certain, but it definitely felt like they knew.

Around 8:30 a cheer shot up from the bar area (which had been packed since I arrived), and the restaurant - for the most part - broke out into applause. As I was getting ready to make my way out around 9, a second massive wave of applause broke out, Chef Humm had come out to the bar area to receive his congrats from friends and regulars. Having been approached by him for a chat just an hour earlier, the man is happy and it shows; having little to complain about in my own life, I felt a twinge of jealousy as Chef was regaled with people just waiting to extend their excited congratulations. Great moment.

The meal I had today leaves little doubt in my mind that they are capable of that fourth star. I didn't experience perfection in food as I do regularly at Per Se. I didn't experience the result of refinement of a single dish over a 10+ year period as I do at JG. But I experienced 4 star dining, of that there is little doubt - and one that is as different from any other as JG or Le Bernardin is from Per Se and Masa. What surprised me the most was the fun that had been injected into the meal, from the tin of caviar to start, to a sea urchin shaped bowl, to "spherisized" preludes to future courses. My own experiences with EMP seems to mirror those of the NYT reviewers, there has been considerable and material progress made over a 5 year period.

I think Bruni did a real disservice to one truly exceptional area of the restaurant: the bar. And he did it by not mentioning it - hands down this is the best cocktail service at any restaurant I have experienced in NY, and I've left feeling that way more than once.

My thanks to Dutchmuse as well. While I don't share her preference for EMP over Per Se, anyone that's been to Per Se 20+ times as I have, and still states a preference for a 2nd restaurant definitely catches my eye - wouldn't have had a great meal without that tip of the cap.

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Congratulations to Chef Humm, Danny Meyer and the entire staff of EMP! Boy, am I glad I had my Gourmand meal three weeks ago (see my review above). Next week I'm having dinner at Per Se (battle of the 4 stars!).

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