Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Eleven Madison Park - "Only" One Michelin Star. Really??? (New York City)

Eleven Madison Park


Eleven Madison Park, one of the many New York City restaurants owned by the famous Danny Meyer. He is one who is responsible from some of the finest dining spots in the Big Apple. From the above referenced Eleven Madison Park, to the ever popular Gramercy Tavern. He is also the owner to Shake Shack, a review I'll write shortly.

When I was making a list for my dining expedition in New York, I figured I'll be a list of Per Se, Le Bernardin, Jean Georges, etc, as Eleven Madison Park didn't even register a blip on my radar. It wasn't until a conversation with Sam Kim of the LAist that intrigued me about Eleven Madison Park. After reading more positive reviews, include Frank Bruni's 4 star review in the NY Times, I was definitely going to pay a visit.

Dining RoomDining Room

Dining Room

Joining me on this fine feast were two of my High School friends from Vacaville: Jeff and Dia, who are now transplants to the Big Apple. Although there were a three course price fixed dinner, as well as a seasonal seven course "Winter Provence" tasting menu, we decided to go for the "Gourmand" Menu at $175/person.



To start, we were given some gougeres before the amuse bouche arrived. Cheesy and soft. Very nice. The gougere was similar to the ones I had at Church & State last year.

Hors d'oeuvres

1. Amuse Bouche (Click on the Photo for decription)

Next, we were given a plate of five amuse bouche to begin our dinner.

From Left:

  • 1) Veal Mousse Chemisè - a nice crispy shell, shaped similar to a carrot. The mousse was quite nice, and not too heavy. Delicious!
  • 2) Foie Gras Macaroon - This was the first savory macaroon I've had, and it was interesting, yet good. One of the more unique way I've been served foie gras.
  • 3) Goat Cheese "Big Mac" - OK, I made the name of this dish as I forgot what the server said. Basically cubes of goat cheese sandwiched between 3 thin, crispy crackers. Very nice, and again, not too rich.
  • 4) Celery Truffle Sablee - The taste of celery was evident here. Although I'm not a huge fan of celery, this one worked well with the cracker and cheese. The truffle added a slight, but noticeable woodsy flavor.
  • 5) Beet Marshmallow - OK, I'm not a fan of beets, but this marshmallow was fantastic! I was told about this dish before my trip and I have to say, if beet tasted this good, bring it on!

"Number Eleven" Cup

"Number 11" Cup - Averna, Sweet Vermouth, Mint, Cucumber, Ginger, Citrus

El Diabo

El Diabo - Cachaca, Lime, Creme de Cassis, Ginger



After our amuse bouche was served, we ordered a few cocktails and wine. I went with the Restaurant's special, the "Number 11" Cup. The drink was quite refreshing, as it's infused with the flavors of ginger, lime, cumber, and citrus. The sweet vermouth and the Averna bitters added a nice kick to the drink. I enjoyed it. My dining mate Dia went with the "El Diabo." I thought it was El Diablo, or the devil, but after conferring with the drink menu, it's actually El Diabo. Regardless of the name, the drink was refreshing, though definitely had more an alcohol taste compared to the "Number 11" Cup. Jeff went with good ol' Syrah, which later paired well with some of the meat dishes.

Sterling Royal Caviar

2 a). Sterling Royal Caviar - Spheres of Smoked Sturgeon and Salmon Cream

Cream of Porcini Mushrooms

2 b). Cream of Porcini Mushrooms

Since Dia was allergic to fish, I called ahead to the restaurant to have substitutions from the Gourmand Menu. I'll denote any substitution with b).

We were given 2 spheres, similar to ones served at Providence and Bazaar in Los Angeles, but the flavors of these 2 fish infused spheres were amazing. On top, we have a salmon cream sphere with a dollop of caviar. The sweet taste of the salmon combined with the brininess flavors of caviar was an awesome combination. The sturgeon sphere was good, if not better than the salmon version. The taste of sturgeon was definitely evident and generally fantastic. My dining mate Jeff proclaimed this was his favorite dish of the night upon the completion of the meal. Great starting dish for us.

In terms of the Cream of Porcini Mushrooms, I had a small taste and likened the soup to a more luxurious cream of mushroom soup. Quite tasty.

Hierloom Beets

3. Hierloom Beets - Salad with Chevre Frais, Nasturtium and Rye Crumble

The hierloom beets was probably the weakest dish of the night, though admittedly, I don't care much for beets. However, even as a beets fan, my dining mate Jeff didn't care too much for the dish either. Though refreshing, the taste of beet didn't leave a good taste in my mouth. The use of Chevre Frais though, served as a nice complementary to this dish.

Rum Raison BriocheFoie Gras
Foie Gras

4. Foie Gras - Terrine with Golden Pineapple, Pickled Pearl Onions and Rum Raisin Brioche

Foie gras, one of the many food I quite enjoy, and the version prepared at Eleven Madison did not disappoint. I first tried foie gras terrine by itself. Silky, smooth, and nary of the rich texture that's usually associated with foie gras. Very nice! After pairing with the pineapple puree, I enjoyed the balance of the sweet and savory in the combination. Finally, using the rum raisin brioche, I used the foie gras terrine, pineapple, and the onions for a delightful combination. Rich, yet smooth, sweet (from the pineapple), and sour (from the onion). Fantastic!

The Modern Mule

The Modern Mule - Bourbon, Apple Brandy, Campari, Spicy Ginger Soda

Once my first cocktail was dispensed, and taking advantage of the New York City's subway system, I treated myself to a Modern Mule. I saw the Apple brandy and the Spicy Ginger Soda, it had Kung Food Panda written all over it! The end result? It was quite enjoyable. The taste of bourbon was there, though the apple brandy and the ginger soda were quite evident. I definitely kept the refreshing theme going!

"Winter in Provence" prepared tableside"Winter in Provence" prepared tableside"Winter in Provence" prepared tableside"Winter in Provence" prepared tableside"Winter in Provence" prepared tableside

"Winter in Provence" Prepared Tableside

Sadly, I found out mid-meal that Executive Chef, Daniel Humm had left early, so one of the sous chef in command for the night served this delightful (and probably my favorite dish of the night) dish tableside to us, named "Winter in Provence."

"Winter in Provence"

5. "Winter in Provence" - Black Truffles, Chevre Frais and Potatoes

On the surface it looks simple, maybe nothing more than a simple pomme puree, however, that's far from the truth. As mentioned above, "Winter in Provence" was served tableside comprised of four things:
  • Black Truffles Puree
  • Pomme Puree
  • Celery Root Puree
  • Goat Cheese Puree
In addition, a liberal helping of a black truffle oil was drizzled on top. The end result, just amazing. Taken alone, I was able to taste the distinct flavors of each ingredient. The woodsy flavor of the black truffle, the starchy goodness of the pomme puree, the noticeable, yet refreshing celery root puree, and finally, the creamy goat cheese. However, once the flavors are combined, it's absolutely fantastic! Though this dish was seasonal, I was glad I was able to enjoy it on my visit. One of the best dish I had during my visit in New York.

Selection of Butter

Left: Goat Milk Butter (aka crack butter) Right: Unsalted Butter (Click Picture for more detail)


Bread Service

Along with the "Winter in Provence," we were served 2 types of bread, along with two types of butter. The bread offered were good, though did not standout. What stood out was the butter made with goat milk. Effing A, that was good! I've never had goat milk butter, but now I want to figure out where to find some. The rich flavors, blew anything I've ever had away. Even the butter I would try at Per Se the following week doesn't compare. Yes, the goat milk butter was effing good!


6 a). Bouillabaisse - Dover Sole with Mussels, Bay Scallops, Hawaiian Prawns and Chorizo

Lynnhaven Farms Milk Goat's Ricotta

6 b). Lynnhaven Farms Milk Goat's Ricotta - Gnocchi with artichokes, Taggiasca olives and bacon

Next up, a seafood Bouillabaisse, that was similar, yet also different than the version I tried at Bond Street awhile back. Unlike the previous version, the bouillabaisse at Eleven Madison Park was richer and a bit spicy from the chorizo. The seafood were cooked perfectly and I devoured this dish fairly quickly. I really enjoyed the addition of chorizo into the seafood bouillabaisse. Another winner in my book!

However, after trying the Gnocchi, I was less than thrilled and was happy to have the bouillabaisse instead. The gnocchi dish was slightly dry, and a bit too rich in my option. I didn't get the bacon flavor, and my dining mate Dia did not enjoy this dish, sadly.

Nova Scotia Lobster

7 a). Nova Scotia Lobster - Poached with Piment d'Espelette, Celery and Meyer Lemon

Four Story Hill Sweetbreads

7 b). Four Story Hill Sweetbreads - Sauteed with black truffles, artichokes, and marbled potatoes

The following dish is the poached lobster with a pepper from Espelette, finished off with celery and a sauce made from meyer lemon that's currently in season. Can I just say this lobster was cooked perfectly? The succulent and sweetness of the lobster really carries out in this dish. I could have just ate the lobster without any of the accompaniment. I enjoyed the meyer lemon sauce as it gave a slight tartness when you eat it with the lobster. I did feel that there were too many sauces in this particular dish, but as a whole, another well cooked dish.

The supplement to the seafood were the sweetbreads, and this was the first time where the supplement matched up well to the seafood dish. The sweetbread were served slightly crispy, and along with the fantastic sauce made of truffles, I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation. Very nice!

Everglades Frog's LegsEverglades Frog's Legs

8. Everglades Frog's Legs - Sauteed with Parsley and Porcini Custard

Frog legs, it's something I've only had at a Chinese restaurant, so I was slightly surprised to see it used in this particular dish, as its main ingredient. The porcini custard had a mild taste as it was used primarily for its texture. The frog leg meat were cook well, and still retained its juicy texture. Although my friend Dia wasn't into this dish, I loved it and finished her's as well. Something about the way those frog legs were prepared really made this dish work. I enjoyed this a lot more than the Chinese rendition.


Caipirinha - Cachaça, Sugar, Lime

After perusing over the cocktail menu once more, I asked for one of my personal favorites, a Caipirinha, made from the Brazilian rum, Cachaça. I enjoyed the strong alcohol presence from the Cachaça, yet the sugar and lime were essential for making this drink work. Nicely done.

Organic Quail

9. Organic Quail - Roasted with Endive, Medjool Dates and Juniper

As we move onward to the meat courses, we were first presented Organic Quail. The meat itself were tender and flavorful, and with the complement of endive gave a slight bitterness to the taste. The sauce was a nice touch to enhance the flavor of the fowl. Another well made course!

Milk Fed Veal

10. Milk Fed Veal - Braised Cheeks with Celery Root and Black Truffles

Now I did enjoy this dish a bit more than the quail. The veal cheeks, braised fork splitting tender was accented with the celery root puree and a jus that was enhanced with truffles. Quite nice, one of my favorites of the night!


Fromage Served Tableside

As we move onto the cheese course, I'll be one to admit I'm learning to appreciate the finer cheeses out there. I was one that was content with the normal brie, american, cheddar, boring, but goodies. However, I'm here to expand horizons, and thus, I was intrigued with some of the cheese offering served at Eleven Madison Park. Our beautiful server, Alexandria went over the various cheeses on the cart and after letting her know which of the cheese I wasn't fond of (mine was bleu), she was able to pick a few for each of us to try.


10. Fromage - A Selection of Artisanal Cheeses

Sadly, I wasn't able to take down all the cheese names, but I distinctly remember the creamy cheese that was on the right hand side on the lower picture being my favorite of the night. Matched with the almonds, it turned out quite nice. Not all the cheese worked for me, but I enjoy using this opportunity to learn more about the various cheeses available to us.

"Soda Pop"

11. "Soda Pop" - Tangerine, Grapefruit, Pomelo and Lemon

Now, onto my favorite part of ANY meal, dessert. And with the first dish presented to us, it wholeheartedly did not disappoint! The sphere on top was a tangerine soda, frozen with liquid nitrogen with some pop rocks mixed in. Placed on the bottom of the plate were various citrus fruits. The tangerine sphere was damn good, and fun to eat, it was like a "party in my mouth" from the presence of pop rocks. I guess I'm easily amused, but this dish truly won me over. I enjoyed the refreshing presence of the fruit and I could have easily ate another plate of the so called, "Soda Pop."

Milk & Chocolates

12. Milk & Chocolates - Variations of Flavors and Texture

At first, I was worried this dessert would be rich, but once it's presented, I knew I was off base. Now, I don't know what's the best way to describe this dessert as each piece of the "chocolate" and "milk" had a different flavor, as well as texture. At first I wasn't sure what to make of it, but after consuming the entire plate, I realized it worked damn well. I enjoyed the playful contrast of flavor and texture. A job well done!


Mignardises - Various Macaroons (click picture for description)

Finally, we were given a selection of macaroons, and being the foodie that I am, I asked for each of the flavor. Below are the selection, from left:

  • Pear - Fruity, refreshing, I enjoyed this one.
  • Chocolate and Quince - There was a definite chocolate flavor in the macaroon, quite nice.
  • Coconut - Coconuty goodness!
  • Lavender - One of my favorite flavors, very nicely done.
  • Meyer Lemon - One of the popular seasonal fruits in the winter, I enjoyed the tart flavors in the macaroon.
  • Hazelnut - Think Ferrero Rocher chocolate in macaroon form. Quite nice.
  • Black Sesame - Finally, we have the deep, smoky flavors of black sesame. Sadly, I'm not too keen on black sesame, so I wasn't a big of this one.

VSOP CognacVSOP Cognac

VSOP Cognac

Just when we thought our meal was over, we were presented with a bottle of VSOP Cognac and were given ample pours and were told to "help ourselves to more." Well, given the fact I didn't have to drive and the Cognac was on the house, I helped myself to another pour of the cognac. The cognac itself was smooth and I was impressed with Eleven Madison Park with the generous gesture.

Fruit JellyFruit Jelly

Fruit Jelly

Prior to leaving, I remember being told by Wendy of a.k.a.dandy to get her a box of the fruit jelly, only for me to find out it's a gift only to the ladies *slap face*. Nice one Kung Food Panda! Regardless I was given a box and later tried one of the jelly. Fruit, soft, quite nice. So ladies, make sure you ask for a box of this fruity goodness before you leave Eleven Madison Park!

All in all, I loved my meal at Eleven Madison Park. The fact it garnered only its first Michelin star floored me. The food was fantastic, the service was beyond great, and all in all, it was probably my favorite meal in the Big Apple. The restaurant definitely was worthy of its 4 star rating in the New York Times. Sometimes I do wonder what the Michelin group are thinking as I can't imagine a better meal that could have been offered. Eleven Madison Park was lively and definitely it's a place I could see myself eat again and again. I'm definitely making a return visit here when I return to NYC. Hopefully, next year? Thanks for the food Chef Humm, and the great service Alexandria! Anyone care to join me here for another Gourmand tasting?

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 889-0905
Official Website

Eleven Madison Park in New York


Dan said...

ugh your morning posts make me so hungry. This looked like an epic 5 hour dinner, I had the Bouillabaisse when I went, very good, but their steak is even better :)

Jeff said...

You didn't spare a detail! Awesome post, Danny. Though I have to say 'Winter in Providence' stands shoulder to shoulder with the Salmon and Sturgeon Spheres. Both were distinctly different palate experiences!

I'll also never forget the Soda Pop and Citrus and Pop Rocks Garden!

Sam said...

Glad you liked it....
-I recognize Alexandria! She was there my last two visits.

-The sous chef serving you tableside is James Kent, the guy who is representing the USA at the Bocuse d'Or!

-Daniel Humm's specialty is suckling pig so you'll have to get that next time! He does a tasting menu for it. His muscovy duck for 2 is his other famous dish.

Sam said...

not that he doesn't have other great dishes... (symphony no.2 , chocolate peanut butter palette, lobster, etc etc)

Jin said...

what a nice write up. were the drinks included in the gourmand menu? thanks for whetting my appetite!!! i'm definitely going to try it next time i go to ny.

Wendy said...

I crave their goat's milk butter and beet marshallow almost everyday... thanks for the pate de fruit!!! :)

Ravenous Couple said...

you got the US bocuse d'or chef there serving you..how cool is that!

mattatouille said...

Sam already got to it, but it's pretty cool that you were served tableside by the future Bocuse d'Or competitor for the US. Great meal and coverage. I'm looking forward to dining there.

Aaron said...

EMP is a new restaurant right? I think that Michelin will not give out more stars until that restaurant has had at least one before. Though next year I can see EMP gettin at least 2.

I might just have to do EMP for my birthday. You're really pushing me over to Sam's side.

Sam said...

EMP has been open since 1998, and Daniel Humm became chef in 2003. 1 year before Per Se and Masa even opened. Got 2 stars when it opened, 3 when Humm took over, and 4 last august.

weezermonkey said...

What an awesome meal!

I'm surprised they only give the jellies to women. How oddly discriminatory.

Diana said...

That is a lot of food! And you capture it all so beautifully!

I'm not sure how I feel about a foie gras macaron...

christina said...

those little macarons are adorable!

kevinEats said...

No mention of being mistaken for me? :D

Seriously though, I want to put EMP on the list for my next NY food trip.

Krissy @ The Food Addicts said...

boy, you really do have the life of just eating at fancy schmancy places! i will just have to live vicariously through your awesome food pictures because this place sounds like its way out of my budget!

kirbie said...

Everything looks so beautiful. And the price seems pretty "reasonable" compared to other tasting menus of michelin star places

mattatouille said...

btw, like others have said, I wouldn't make a big deal about the one michelin star. I'm sure it will get another one soon. NY is one of the few cities where that style of star ranking is actually half-relevant, though it's really best for Europe's market

Kung Food Panda said...

Dan: I think you and Wendy need to go back and try the Gourmand, though it is truly a marathon!

Jeff: Thanks! And I want to see what pictures you were able to take that night so I might interchange some of what I have on my blog.

Sam: Yup, she's a cutie :)

Thanks for the link on Kent, though I think it's someone else that served us that night, though he's quite skilled. Chef Humm looks to have a great staff going

I'm looking forward to trying out his other dishes.

Jin: The drinks weren't included, but they were in the range of $12-14, so it's quite decent compared to other restaurants of this calibur.

Wendy: You need to go back and ask them where they got the goat butter! Anytime on the pate de fruit :)

RC: I'm not sure if it's Kent, b/c the pic on the link doesn't match. Great meal, regardless!

Matt: Thanks! I do highly recommend EMP!

Kung Food Panda said...

Aaron: I actually liked EMP better than Le Bernardin, though it could have been just me. The service at EMP was truly top notch, as were most of the food. Only 2 "meh" dishes during the night (beet, and the gnocci). I think and hope you'll enjoy it!

Sam: You got all the info! :)

WM: Great meal, and ya, with the jelly, maybe the guys got the Cognac? Not sure.....

Diana: Thanks D! Foie Gras Macaroon, I wouldn't say I loved it, but it was interesting.

Christina: Adorable, but also tasty! Loved the various flavors

Kevin: Haha! Maybe I should have? :)

Yes, I do want to hear what you think of EMP, and I hope it'll have its 2nd Michelin star by then. With 4 stars on NYT, it should be a solid affair for you.

Krissy: It was a splurge, but I had a blast! :) I can't cook like you guys though, so something has to give!

kirbie: Agreed. I thought overall, the food was better at Per Se, just not the price....

Matt: I agree. Michelin stars are overrated, as I didn't quite think Jean George lived up to the hype....but I'm sure it'll get a 2nd star sooner or later.

e*starLA said...

Danny, I LOVE EMP. Didn't have the extensive experience you did (lucky dog!! I mean, panda) - rather, I went for the lunch prix fixe menu. However, I was equally impressed and left very full. The prospect of the tasting menu my table neighbors were having seemed daunting! Props to you!

Pandalicious said...

amuse and winter in provence - thumbs up!! great write up.

Lori Lynn said...

Wow Danny - great write up! I love this restaurant, we were there in June 2008. And I am so excited to see the Winter In Provence dish, we recently had a Winter White Dinner Party, and served celery root and pomme puree. I can't wait to try this combination.
Happy Travels!

Kung Food Panda said...

Esther: I was a happy panda too! :) If you go next time, I'd at least try the 3 course dinner menu. I heard good thing about that too!

Amy: Thanks! It was delicious

Lori: EMP is quite underrated, in my opinion....I hope you'll get a chance to go back! Pomme Puree, Celery root puree and the other 2 really worked!

Gastronomer said...

What a feast! I am bummed I didn't get a chance to EMP-it during my last visit. Next time around, this baby will be mine!

Kung Food Panda said...

Cathy: Yes, you must! I promise, it'll be better than dinner on Thurs! :P

Anonymous said...

It's great!!! Visit Madison Restaurant Review to see a Madison metro area site with detailed reviews and pictures with at least 1 new restaurant review each week.