I’m pretty sure that a meal at Eleven Madison Park, the number 5 restaurant in the world (not that it matters) was the perfect bookend to an awesome week and half in NYC. I believe the opening was Da Wong with Quintarelli’s wines. Eleven Madison Park has this beautiful entryway. Is this called a courtyard? And actually, I’m still here so I have time to go to Donut Plant.Leave it to the fat jello looking guy to hand out food stars!the plate is an empty canvas, much like the courtyard, and small bites were the start of the meal. the first bite was a familiar flavor in an unfamiliar vehicle. green apple, cheddar, in a cookie. sweet, savory, creamy, perfect crunch. An awesome start.
Next was an oyster blast chilled, grapes, and extremely crispy sorrel and bulgur wheat. Wine was Ulysse Collin Extra Brut Champagne.this was the first of two sturgeon courses. Sabayon w/ chive oil and smoked sturgeon on the bottom of the sabayon/egg.
here, smoking the sturgeon as we delved into the 1990 Château Margaux. http://www.wine.com/v6/Chateau-Margaux-1990/wine/6533/detail.aspxan unbelievable vintage. Impeccable wine. this was the second of the sturgeon courses. the sturgeon had a similar taste to a smoked turkey, almost like ones that are mechanically separated. The caviar and bread of course, were awesome. What I liked about the duo is the anticipation the builds, and the memory that reverses. the smoked sturgeon was a similar smoky flavor as in the sabayon, but a different texture. The chef recommends the foie gras terrine – the cold preparation of the foie gras was the best I’ve had. I’m a sucker for seared foie, there’s nothing like it maybe if butter and crack had a baby, that’s what you’d get. But this prep really accentuated the pure richness of the foie. It- was. awesome. Because a few at the table did not prefer to get a cold prep, I got to try the seared as well. Delicious as always, but can be done easily at home.I read reviews before drinking the bottle. Most people say they wish they could have purchased 5 cases. the lobster i’m sure is sous vide, then finished with a meyer lemon beurre blanc. There were two textures of guanciale – one melted over a lobster, and the other crispy bacon crumbles. bacon and lobster + some acidity and the brussel sprouts for contrasting texture – delicious combination, though one part of my lobster was a few min under and the tail was a few min overdone. After gorging myself with hand caught spiny lobsters from the Pacific, Maine lobsters just don’t compare. This was the first of a series of courses where the waiters or the cooks would bring out the ingredient, further building anticipation of what’s to come. They would bring the ingredient out one or two courses ahead of time, and would jog your memory.
then they brought out a meat grinder to the table. And when I saw carrots, I thought maybe we’d do a rabbit tartare. lol. And then we proceeded to open another 100 point wine – 2007 Scarecrow. Bigger, bolder, albeit younger. It took about an hour to find its legs and perhaps should open the next one in ~ 5 years.
It was interesting – a familiar technique – tartare + mustard, salt, oils, chives, and so on, but with carrots? Loved it. These carrots were unbelievably sweet. Then we were given a wooden board of accompaniments to make our own tartare but I just threw everything in and devoured it. Nothing like a farmer to hand pick. The carrots are cooked sous vide at 93C.Here is the squash again – they bake bread inside of the squash – with lots of herbs. Fragrant, seasonal, delish.bread course – most memorable bread I’ve had. EMP contracts to get this flour. It’s croissant like in outside texture without so much crunch, but fluffy and airy yet at the same time has substance inside. I’m not even sure mathematically that makes any sense. this is one of the master sommelier in the documentary SOMM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4zeyuk8hL8
aged duck. roasted. picture is blurry – but hopefully you can see crispiness of the skin and its herbs were on par with nintendo game mike tyson’s punchout.familiar flavors – turnip, huckleberries. however the texture of the duck was chewy. Which was strange because they deliberately age the duck. The flavor of the duck also wasn’t so ducky. And the fat was not ethereal. Though I liked the technique of crispy coriander, cumin, and so forth, this was the second disappointment I had – and of course, on the protein 🙁 which is the center focus of my food and I find it hard to be satisfied elsewhere. the next was a fun picnic pasket. great pretzel, mustard, beer. They even had an opener! Which was cool… but (it sucked)
then a table-made malt with egg cream, vanilla, and seltzer that is brought into the city every day. Tasty start to the dessert courses.here we go – bringing the meal full circle – a sweet cookie. bay leaf sorbet, Crème brûlée, hibiscus. Though the crust was excellent I don’t think it was really a Crème brûlée because I don’t remember shattering any sugar.cheesecake.Here the “dealer” tells you to pick a card, any card – with each card having a different ingredient. I chose bourbon. just so happens the bourbon chocolate was the one under my sweet potato cheesecake the whole time…#trixareforadults
Certainly, amazing service save an issue with wine service. Waiters were attentive: You go to the restroom and leave your napkin, they take the napkin and bring you a new one. Water service impeccable. Wine service was friendly, knowledgeable, though if you bring your wine beware – a lot of restaurants do not pour it all into the decanter. I was surprised at this as a whole glass of scarecrow and 3/4 glass of 1990 Margaux were left in the bottle and not decanted. @ $1000 a bottle ($2700 on their menu) that’s robbery. Maybe that is just the practice of one of the assistant Sommeliers – but not cool. The Sommelier is very polished and professional. The cooks who interact with you and/or bring items to the table: i.e. squash, meat grinder are humorous and riff off your interaction with them, without being silly. Waiters also know when to exit.
Though the proteins were OK, I recognize that I Yam perhaps the biggest protein snob. The food had some spaces to improve, but the meal was impeccable – what I mean by that is the food was exceptional and as a whole it was everything I want it to be. Have a few standouts. Unbelievable bread. Best carrot ever and I go to different farms every week. Possibly best foie; certainly best cold foie preparation with perfect crunch and highlighting the foie. Fantastic flavor combinations that were still familiar. Lobster + guanciale. Playful. Mentally stimulating. Memory jogging. Memory building.
I was in NYC in 2012 and went to dinner at Eleven Madison in May, not much after the restaurant jumped from one to three star Michelin. I always BYOB when dining out no matter what. I lugged a case of older bottles across the USA to the East Coast for restaurants in Philly and NYC. Didn’t care about Per Se, Boulud’s or Le Bernadin, just eating at Eleven Madison. It was sprinkling and had to use an old umbrella to walk to the restaurant and handed the umbrella to somebody at the door. I am not much for remembering the vittles of a dinner, but I do remember the wines had at a restaurant for some reason. The food from the tasting menu was well paced and service and food were excellent. The whole dinner was quite an experience, mainly due to the superior service. If I remember correctly, there was a hand wash prior to eating. Since I haul around the cellar when I dine out, I usually handle my own wine service and prefer to not let any sommelier decant my wine, thank you. Erik, your bitch about wine left in an expensive decanted bottle is something I quite understand and, hence, I do my own decanting where I leave about 2-3 teaspoons of sediment and wine. I opened my bottle of 1978 La Tache by driving a Screwpull right through the cork, making a nice hole. The cork was about 32 years old at this time and soft. There’s bits of cork floating on the wine, but no problem since this has happened many times before. Just shove that tubing into the hole and siphon the wine into a decanter, leaving bits of cork and very little wine behind. The wine was fine, well, better than fine. I can truly empathize with your seeing a 3/4-1 glass of expensive wine left on the sediment. The white wine was a Domaine Leflaive Grand Cru from 2004. The dinner was truly civilized. I noticed other tables being handed a Sauterne colored bottle at the time the check was handed over. Being from the West Coast, I had never seen this done anywhere. Maybe this was an Eleven Madison courtesy. So come time to settle the check, this bottles comes along with it. Damn, it’s a bottle of Guillon Cognac and drink as much as you feel like. Wow, what a way to end a great dinner, but that wasn’t the end of the fine dining experience. The most memorable part of this whole dining experience, even beyond the food and wine, was as I was heading to the door to leave, there was someone at the ready with my umbrella, no prompting required. Now, that is service!!! The restaurant definitely deserves its high world ranking and the only regret I have is that I live on the West Coast.