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Eleven Madison Park


donbert
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I did a three month externship at EMP in the fall of '05 and can say with a bit of certainty that it was one of the poorest run kitchens I had ever seen.  Technique was lacking, it was fairly dirty and many of the cooks lacked discipline.  There were minimal expectations and that made it easy to work there.  I am sure that under Humm things have been tightened significantly.  I'm still in contact with one of the sous chefs and he says that the majority of the staff in the kitchen left due to the fact that they could not meet the culinary expectations of the new regime.  Chef Humm's requirements were much more stringent than what was expected before.  Due to this mass exodus, those that remained were and sometimes still are clocking in up to 100 hours a week.

I ate there again a few weeks ago and can say that it has all been worth it.  The kitchen is already light years from where they were when I was there.

Pretty much what I expected and gleaned from talking to chef.

They couldn't stand the heat, so got out of the kitchen. :biggrin:

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exactly. but its not about "standing the heat"

when you're a line cook, and you're at work for a 10 hour shift.....cooking really great food is not much more difficult then cooking average food. you're still on your feet, you're still busting and hauling ass, dripping sweat, etc.

there's a fine way to get your cooks to produce 3 star food, and theres a bad way. the former will result in individuals who are happy with their career, will teach them how to be better cooks, and will produce food made with love (not fear).... the latter may produce pretty food in limoges bernardaud china, but will ultimately cause high turnover and a harder time for everyone.

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Danny Meyer has written a book about his management style that will be out this Fall. The title seems to be up in the air but might be something like "Setting the Table" or "Enlightened Hospitality." I've read about half the manuscript and can't say that I have much of a sense of what it's actually like to work in any of his kitchens (which isn't the point of the book anyway) but he does say that he hires for innate qualities of personality and personability as much as already-acquired skills. You know -- some things you can teach, some you can't.

I also got the impression -- perhaps inadvertantly -- that 11 Madison was started as much becaue the location was available as for any other reason. I believe it's supposed to be the "high end" one of his restaurants but he admits in the book that the concepting of the restaurnat lacked focus when they first opened it. He seems to be focusing on wine there now, and if they have an exceptional chef in hand it seems like it may now be hitting its stride. I'll have to check it out.

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I took my mom and my girlfriend to Eleven Madison Park last night. They were doing a good business, but the restaurant wasn't full at any point during our 3½ hours there.

For Mother's Day, they were offering the standard three-course prix fixe at $68 or a special five-course tasting menu at $85. We chose the latter. The courses, as best I remember them, were:

* Amuse bouche of gazpacho and cherry tomato sorbet

* Salad of Florence fennel, radishes, and essence of cara cara orange

* Foie gras terrine with rhubarb and raisins

* Lobster with butter poached carrots, orange and Gewürtztraminer

* Palate cleanser, which I have forgotten

* Wagyu beef short ribs braised with bone marrow crust and garden peas

* Choice of cheesecake with sheep's milk yogurt and roasted pineapple; or, selection of cheeses

* Petits-fours

This was the first time that I've dined out at a high-end restaurant on a holiday, and not been disappointed. The fact that the regular à la carte menu was available was a positive sign. When restaurants channel everyone to just one menu (as they often do on New Year's Eve, for example), it's a sure sign that you're going to get a mass-produced mess that's no better than a catered wedding.

Here, every course was excellent. The rhubarb-raisin foie gras terrine stood out, especially for the unusual combination of ingredients. The beef short ribs were wonderfully tender. In a tasting menu one always regrets that there are only a few bites. I also especially liked the creativity of the cheesecake.

Paired wines would have been $48 each, but that was more wine than we cared to consume on a Sunday evening, so we ordered a bottle of cabernet franc from Channing Daughters ($71), and weren't disappointed. The staff decanted the wine for us without our asking, which is something all too few restaurants will do these days.

Service was close to perfect. We were especially impressed with the timing of the courses. We always had an ample amount of time to relax before the next course arrived.

Dinner for three, including tasting menus, pre-dinner cocktails, wine, and cappucino afterwards, was $371 before tax and tip.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Of the over 100 meals, I have eaten this year, Eleven ranks second, just behind Per Se (is all great cuisine left coastal?), and when one realizes that the tasting menus are $75.00 (four course, plus at least four concealed courses), the ratio of joy/dollar ranks just behind Papaya King.

Our meal last night had just two "hidden courses": the usual amuse bouche at the beginning, and the usual mid-meal palate cleanser, which I believe came before the meat course. Either gaf got the celebrity treatment, or they were simplifying things for Mother's Day.
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Actually, when he discusses Union Square Cafe, he talks a great deal about how he was very focused on providing a certain level of cuisine at an accessible price point. Gramercy Tavern was an interpretation of New England taverns he loved eating in on vacation. Haven't gotten to a discussion of the Modern yet.

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Actually, when he discusses Union Square Cafe, he talks a great deal about how he was very focused on providing a certain level of cuisine at an accessible price point.  Gramercy Tavern was an interpretation of New England taverns he loved eating in on vacation.  Haven't gotten to a discussion of the Modern yet.

I'd like to visit the taverns he did!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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I did a three month externship at EMP in the fall of '05 and can say with a bit of certainty that it was one of the poorest run kitchens I had ever seen.  Technique was lacking, it was fairly dirty and many of the cooks lacked discipline.  There were minimal expectations and that made it easy to work there.  I am sure that under Humm things have been tightened significantly.  I'm still in contact with one of the sous chefs and he says that the majority of the staff in the kitchen left due to the fact that they could not meet the culinary expectations of the new regime.  Chef Humm's requirements were much more stringent than what was expected before.  Due to this mass exodus, those that remained were and sometimes still are clocking in up to 100 hours a week.

I ate there again a few weeks ago and can say that it has all been worth it.  The kitchen is already light years from where they were when I was there.

I am a line cook at Eleven Madison Park. First, I would like to thank you for your comments , which are true. Second, after reading the comments that have been made by ChefBoy24, I would like to take this chance to set the record straight. I was employed at 11MP before Chef Daniel arrived and am currently still employed there. I am ONE OF SEVERAL LINE COOKS that were there before Chef Daniel arrived and have remained. That is inconsistency #1. Maybe I shouldn't count, but now you will undertand where I am headed. Yes, there has been a tremendous change in the kitchen at 11MP. Everything is different: style, structure, design, methodology, discipline, atmosphere and dedication. Those of us that have remained and those that have taken the challenge to join our team are fuelled by the desire to produce the most perfect food and create the most exsquisite culinary experience possible for the guests that come to the restaurant. Chef Daniel is an extremely gifted ant talented chef. However, I will not lie. The tension can reach a high level. When perfection is required, pressure is high. And in the end Chef Daniel appreciates every effort we put into or work and does not hesitate to tell us.

Those of us that work there are striving for the best because of the respect we have for Chef Daniel and what he is doing in our kitchen. We are a team striving and putting our hearts and souls into what we do. There is nothing behind the high turnover rate other than the raised expectations of our Chef. Any implications to the contrary are the bitter words of someone who couldn't produce to the expected level. I have been witness to many cooks that have come into the kitchen, both pre-Chef Daniel and post-Chef Daniel that have an inflated ego and no or little talent to back it up. They have been exposed and can't handle it.

In the end, I can tell you from personal experience as a line cook, that it's not just eating but a culinary experience that is created. You can think I'm biased, however consider this- I produce what he has created. The credit is not mine. The credit goes to Chef Daniel.

I apologize for the length of this reply, however I could not let the previous comments go without a response.

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  Those of us that work there are striving for the best because of the respect we have for Chef Daniel and what he is doing in our kitchen.  We are a team striving and putting our hearts and souls into what we do.  There is nothing behind the high turnover rate other than the raised expectations of our Chef.  Any implications to the contrary are the bitter words of someone who couldn't produce to the expected level.  I have been witness to many cooks that have come into the kitchen, both pre-Chef Daniel and post-Chef Daniel that have an inflated ego and no or little talent to back it up.  They have been exposed and can't handle it.

 

Don't worry. Most of us are aware of how demanding a work environment a top kitchen is. I don't see how any restaurant is going to dramatically improve without some turmoil.

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too bad every single last line cook (including me) quit except one because of the new chef.  and the waitstaff now hate their job.

you may be impressed by trendy food on limoges plates, but maybe you should be aware of the costs of the bullshit.

Just so that everyone knows where chefboy24's comments come from...

I currently work at 11 Madison, and have been there since before Chef Humm arrived. While chefboy24 did work at 11 Madison for a short period of time, he was fired before Chef Humm got there. Also, while most of the old staff did quit, there are still five line cooks who stayed. The reason for this mass exodus was mostly due to the higher expectations and standards of the new Chef. While working in the new kitchen may involve much more work, I feel it is reflected in the quality of the food being served.

Anyway, that is my 2 cents. I just didn't want people posting and reading comments that weren't accurate.

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Big Fun.

Teenage Suicide (Don't Do it)

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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Does anyone know where Kerry Heffernan has ended up? I think the original announcement was that he was going to USH's new catering company, but I gather that didn't happen. Even if Heffernan's menu was a bit unfocussed I have to admit I enjoyed his cooking. The english pea flan was one of my favorite spring dishes in the city.

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Originally I think he was going to head up the cooking over at Danny Meyer's Hudson Yards Catering, but I have heard rumors that he is no longer there, so I don't know where he ended up.

Does anyone know where Kerry Heffernan has ended up? I think the original announcement was that he was going to USH's new catering company, but I gather that didn't happen. Even if Heffernan's menu was a bit unfocussed I have to admit I enjoyed his cooking. The english pea flan was one of my favorite spring dishes in the city.

Edited by johnder (log)

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I'm reasonably certain I saw copy saying he was no longer at Hudson Yards, which is USH's catering company, in an email/publication/etc. somewhere. Egullet? Andrea Strong? FoodArts? Can't recall.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Kerry is no longer with Hudson Yards..."he has gone on to pursue other interests" sort of thing.

I just dined at Eleven Madison Park last night with the new chef. What I had was an absolutely amazing meal, food wise without a doubt comparable to a Michelin ** restaurant (service not to that standard but good). They have quite a find on their hands--he is from Switzerland, and even the plating showed genius--the dishes were visually stunning. We had something like a 6 or 7 course dinner (chef & sommelier created it to pair with the burgundies we brought) and it was one high point after another. Before long, this guy will be at a gastronomic restaurant or will turn Eleven Madison into one.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hot damn. I had lunch today at eleven madison...wow. From stodgy yellowing food, that truly seemed to be trdging along to a SERIOUS whopper of a meal.

Daniel Humm is where it's at.

I ate at Per Se last week. I've been comparing the level of finess (of the food) and am finding very little discrepency. oh sweet soignee!!!!!!!

let's see:

Started with a salmon carpaccio. A big fat scallop wrapped first in nori, then salmon. Sliced carpaccio style on the plate. little citrus salad and raw lobster bits. wish it were a bit colder but quite tasty, though I don't love nori.

Then:

Potato gnocci with some stuff. good stuff. sorry, ate it to fast to register. They were toasted, there was some parmesean and some green sauce. It was just so goood...

Slow poached egg with lobster knuckles and a garlic. One of those nice gelatnous eggs that have been popping up all over town surrounded by knuckles and again....goodness. The plating reminded me of flying over the best city in the world while it is foggy. You can kind of see it but...not all the way.. really racy.

next:

Grillled scallops in boullabaise with white beans and chorizo. This was very good, though I only had a few bites, I've been over saffroned for the past few weeks so I was forced to lame out.

Roast lamb with moroccan spices. I didn't really percieve moroccan spices, but I didn't really care. Are they making kobe lambs? this little portion of the tenderloin? was so jucy and succelent It knocked my socks of. It was served with some criped lamb belly, cauliflower puree, rasins, little carmelised bits of cauliflower and lamb jus. heaven.

Dessert:

We opted for the carmel and chocolate and the strawberry. I like that the desserts are described simply and are very simply plated, but somehow elegant and progressive. I was really impressed.

The strawberry dessert was a macroon glace with a pop rocks and crumble squares with strawberry soup. very very good though I wish they had made the pop rocks themselves.

The choclate caramel had a caramel ice cream, a little chocolate and caramel tart and some caramel corn, also a delight to eat.

Here's the thing, I may never be a food writer, but I will always be a masterful eater. What I can't describe, you just have to take my word on. This is the meal you want to spend your money on. I did and at 168.00 for two (one glass of champagne) it seemed like a real deal. Also the room looks even prettier now that the food is re-inspired! I can't wait to go try the chefs secret dinner tasting.

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The buzz surrounding this place is definitely justified based on our visit last night. We had the Aquatic tasting menu, which was exactly as represented on their web site, so I won't go into great detail on every course (although the web site doesn't mention the parade of three amuses that came before the menu started, including a scaled down version of the fennel/radish/orange salad from the prix fixe menu).

I was a bit perplexed by the scallops "chaud-froid", since previous reviewers indicated that this dish had both warm and cold components (as the name would suggest) - last night's preparation was strictly cold, but still quite nice (and fairly generous with the caviar). The St. Pierre course was a visual showstopper - a small square of whitefish with gorgeous cucumber "scales" accompanied by a squash blossom stuffed with ratatouille cut into the finest imaginable dice. Tasted good, too.

The cheese course was the only real misfire from my perspective - a small cylinder of goat cheese that was really salty. I complain about salt in a dish about once every 10-15 years on average, so if I say it's salty it really is - not sure if this was an excess application of fleur de sel or something inherent in the cheese itself.

Dessert amuse was an unexceptional watermelon and berry concoction, and the main dessert itself was serviceable but unexciting. The really great thing about this meal was the opportunity to enjoy truly ambitious cuisine in a "Danny Meyer" setting - meaning great service, spacious tables, a lovely room, a thoughtful and affordable wine program (we had a wonderful Saumur-Champigny Blanc from Thierry Germain for only $46), and well-paced execution (we were there for 2.5 hours but the meal never seemed to drag). We were thoroughly underwhelmed by our previous (pre-Humm) visit, but we will be making this a regular destination for the next few months.

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I ate at the bar last week where diners have the option of bar menu or full menu. There are five or six offerings, and I believe my date and I tried everything but the gougeres. We started with the grilled cheese sandwiches and lobster clubs. The menu doesn't make it clear but you receive six of each sandwich in miniature, each wrapped in paper and the bread must be sliced from minature loaves and then toasted as it has that shape. The grilled cheese is melted gruyere, sliced pork belly and mustard. The lobster club has two pieces of bread not three and I couldn't find any lobster in the salad. Both are very buttery but the flavor combination in the grilled cheese surpasses the butter flavor while the lobster club succumbs to it. Next we had the smoked salmon which I believe were small bites - again, about six - on small squares of foccacia with dabs of creme fraiche I believe. Nothing special and like the lobster a gross lack of the main ingredient for the price. Then came the mushroom pizza. It came in four or six slices on a crisp but not burnt bread and was piled with a tower of the most flavorful mushrooms like I've never seen before. So it was hit and miss, two dishes worked, two didn't; the more comfort food / cheaper ingredient dishes far more successful and satisfying than the seafood dishes by which the logic the cheese puffs should be amazing. I believe all the small plates averaged around $14 each. Their cocktail menu was a treat as well; I only wish I could remember all I drank. As the evening began at 230 Fifth, I was glad we came to EMP second as even though it lacks a view it showed 230 up on food and drink. (230 Fifth doesn't even have a full bar.)

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My wife and I went on Saturday evening because of the very positive reviews I have been reading and they were right on. Thanks guys and gals. We had a wonderful meal and can't wait to return.

We arrived at 7:00 without a reservation and were promptly seated. The rest. at that time was fairly empty but by 9:00 it was almost full and this is not a small room. I just cannot say enough about the service. Perfection itself. (How often has surely and unattentive waitstaff spoiled an otherwise enjoyable meal). This young lady appeared magically every time we needed our wine to be poured or water glasses refilled. She was very knowledgable about all the different preparations so we had an easy time chosing our dinner and therefore getting exactly what we thought we would. No unwelcome surprises. The spacing between courses was perfect. Who needs to be served one dish on top of another.

I won't bore you now with our menu but all I heard from my very critical wife all evening was "this is fabulous" and I will second that.

Since we opted for cheese instead of dessert we received a pre-cheese amuse and it had to be one of the best things we have eaten in a long time. A piece of very creamy goat cheese with very finely grated peppercorns on top. A wonderful piece of bread and our wine to accompany and we were in Mad heaven. For our 3 piece cheese course that we choose from the menu we went for all cheeses from Switzerland and they too were excellent.

I certainly hope that Mr. Humm goes humming along for a long time at 11 Mad.

We love the space (you have got to see it as it is a glorious room and our NY favorite) and the food is worth every penny and also the ride from NJ to lower NY.

Hank

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I can't believe the change this restaurant has undergone in less than a year. When I was externing there last year I'd heard someone new was coming on board but had no idea the turnaround would be so great!

Edited by flinflon28 (log)
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