We had been planning an epic meal at a three Michelin star restaurant in NY for ages and after much debating and perusing on ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot.com who apparently dines at these establishments on the reg we decided on Eleven Madison Park. Seriously though if you want to look at thorough reviews of NY restaurants this is a great blog, this guy eats everrrryywhereee.
Eleven Madison Park
Although Per Se is more well-known, it was more expensive with fewer courses and a lot of the more interesting or ‘fancy’ courses like the foie gras, the caviar and the Japanese Wagyu are supplements. And not $20 dollar supplements, $40-100 dollar supplements which on top of a $310 price tag (albeit service included) is a little hefty. Le Bernardin is too seafood focused for us, Daniel did not impress as much and Brooklyn Fare is impossible to get a reservation at + a little too molecular gastronomy-esque for us. So EMP it was. Plus we hear there’s smoke and magic tricks at EMP and we are easily swayed by such trickery.
EMP is unique too in that there is not a set menu (although naturally they do have their stand by dishes) and you can tell them what you like and don’t like so that you won’t be eating any courses that you dislike. For me that was no offal except for foie gras and for my sister it was no shellfish. Included all the courses from both our meals (mine first and my sisters second) as they could be pretty different. Note that there might be mistakes in identifying all the components of each plate as this meal was from a couple months ago but I think it should be generally correct.
Black and White Savoury Cookies and Iphone 4. Kidding, who even has an Iphone 4 anymore (I do).
A nod to black & white cookies being a NY staple these were a savoury cheddar version that came with apple and the black tint from vegetable ash. Pretty tasty and I love pairing cheese and fruit. I heard the old version was parmesan and truffle though which might have been even better.
Oyster with Champagne Vinegar Granita
Goat Cheese Pannacotta with Rhubarb Gelee
Both of these were great. Cannot for the life of me remember what made my granita so purple. And although I love oysters I tried some of the panna cotta and together with the rhubarb have to admit it was a very nice contrast of creamy with slightly tart.
Sweet Shrimp with Uni Cream
Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
The sweet shrimp came coated in panko and their mild flavor was really enhanced with the super savoury uni cream and the herb foam on the plate. I just cannot get into uni when it comes to large quantities of it but as a slight flavor addition it works very well, especially if its contrasted with something more herbal or acidic. The beets were all prepared perfectly and always go nicely with goat cheese. Thought my shrimp dish was a lot more exciting though
Sturgeon Sabayon with Chive Oil
Same for both of us. We were really concerned this was going to be overly fishy but it was SO GOOD. So creamy and the chive oil at the bottom makes this taste unbelievable. Really nice combination of flavours that initially I did not think I was going to love. One of my favorites.
Smoked Sturgeon Course
Same for both of us as well. If you are like me you got super excited at that fat tin of caviar. However sorry to disappoint, although it is a very decent caviar portion, it is only one layer and beneath that its all cream cheese. The bread is thinly sliced and crisp and you can eat the sturgeon on the crisp with cream cheese and caviar or with the quail egg salad. Or all together like I did. Pickles were also quite nice but nothing out of this world. Sadly no pictures of them removing the glass dome filled with smoke over the sturgeon.
Parker House Rolls
Venison Fat Butter and Vermont Butter
For the meat courses you can pick a lavender duck or the venison, we went with the venison so venison fat was mixed into the butter for our Bread and Butter course. So GOOD. I wish you could buy this at the grocery store because beef-fat butter is amazing on everything. THe bread is also divine. I’m not a huge fan of puff pastry or croissants but this had the perfect balance of real bread chew and flakiness.
Seared Foie Gras
Foie Gras Torchon
You also get to choose how your foie gras is prepared, for the sake of diversity I chose seared and my sister chose torchon. Loved the torchon with the crisps and the fruits on the plate, I have a hard time eating foie gras torchon without some bread or acidic fruit to contrast how rich it is. Did not think I would love the seared preparation as much but the sauce with it was incredible.
As soon as the guy brought the grinder to the table we said we could not wait for the carrot tartare. He was kind of disappointed and said it was supposed to be a surprise. I think I’ve known about the carrot tartare for a long time but that might be due to frequenting an enormous roster of food sites on a regular basis. Sorry guy. Anyways this came with so many toppings; a quail egg yolk, bonito flakes, mustard seed, smoked sturgeon, sunflower seeds, chives, etc. Mixed everything in just because it was there. You eat it with bread and it was definitely an interesting flavour. I liked it but ultimately thought it was more interesting than surprisingly tasty, unlike the sturgeon sabayon.
Lobster with Brussel Sprouts
The lobster course was naturally very tasty and I was eyeing the bland fish my sister got with pity. However after one bite of it my opinion completely changed. This fish (does anyone know what kind of fish it was? Cannot remember and it was so amazing) was probably my favorite course of the entire meal. The texture, the taste and the sauce were unreal. Very sad I cannot remember what was the name of the stupid fish
Butternut Squash Course
Same for both us. As it was fall this was supposed to evoke Thanksgiving. The butternut squash was prepared different ways and also came with cranberry compote and pumpkin seeds. This was lovely and a nice nod to the season.
The venison loin they cook is first brought out to you then taken back to the kitchen. What comes to your table is a perfectly cooked venison loin and a skewer with different parts of venison, including a venison sausage, and a shallot. This was all lovely except for the grayish item on the skewer. Not sure what it was but it was definitely some kind of organ I have no love for. Very creamy, grainy texture and offal-y taste. Blergh. This is obviously a personal preference and if you are an offal-positive person I’m sure it was perfectly executed and whatnot. The venison loin was impossibly perfectly cooked although I wish there were more fatty elements on the plate to offset how lean venison is. In the past when this was a beef course you also got beef consomme and a course with braised oxtail with potato foam and foie gras. Wish there had been something comparable for the venison course!
This was also one of my favorite courses, the picnic basket is dropped off at your table and then you unwrap it. It comes with pretzel bread, cheese, grapes, an incredible violet mustard and a bottle of German apple cider. Everything was really good and paired together wonderfully. On ramblingsandgamblings they had charcuterie too but this was not in our basket. Clearly looking at all those EMP posts made me want things I would not have known to miss had I not seen them in the other posts…
Malt Egg Cream
Egg cream with vanilla and seltzer. Have always been wary of trying these as the concept of a carbonated egg mixture is somewhat ambiguous in my mind. This was excellent though, very very vanilla-y. It also tasted very reminiscent of something we’d had in our childhood but could not figure out what it was.
Creme Brulee Tart with Sorbet
So so so good. Sometimes desserts with too many elements can be a little too many things but everything here played well together and was expertly prepared on its own right. I am not a big creme brulee person as I do not like clunky rock-hard layers of caramelized sugar on my custards but this one had the thinnest crackle of caramelized sugar and I finally understood why one paired so well with the other. The tart was very rich and it was nicely offset by all the other lighter elements on the plate.
Although you can’t tell from the first picture, this is the card magic trick they do. You get your dessert course and after picking two random cards from the shuffled cards, ta-da! You lift off your plate and underneath is a chocolate flavored like the card you picked. We got orange and lemon and I was a little sad considering all the other more exciting flavors (passion fruit i love you), but they were surprisingly really really good. The squash cheesecake was interesting but ultimately I do not love squash with sweet elements so this was not my favorite. I blame that on particularly gross cloyingly sweet and overly creamy cafeteria butternut squash soup I had in college once but unfortunately the distaste stuck with me.
Black and White Cookies
And here we are full circle with sweet black & white cookies. Very Lion King. The pretzel is actually made up of ground pretzels that are mixed with white chocolate and then reconstituted into pretzel form and dipped into chocolate and sea salt…Very Inception.
Breakfast for the Next Day:
Once you are done they give you an adorable little bag with a personalized mason jar filled with EMP granola. This was pretty great stuff with lots of dried peaches, pumpkin seeds and all kinds of other stuff. Loved this nice touch at the end of the meal.
Overall this was a pricey experience we thought was completely worth it. It’s a 3-4 hour ordeal. Possibly less if you eat as fast as us but that’s pretty questionable. Pretty sure we ruined the surprises for everyone considering we were always 2 courses ahead of everyone. Our bad. The service was phenomenal, a perfect mix of the professional formality required at that level of restaurant but still very friendly and fun. You get different people presenting the dishes and they are the ones who made the dish which we thought was really cool. And although there were people ordering wine pairings or bottles of Champagne our servers were perfectly fine with us just sippin’ on tap water.
Our biggest regret was not asking for the kitchen tour which takes you inside the kitchen (provided they are not too busy) and where they usually prepare you a cool drink. Next time
$225 per person x 2
TOTAL (w/ tax, service not included): $495.00
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010