Out of all the places that I ate at last year, I was most impressed by the experience of the then, two-starred michelin restaurant. Obviously others had been as well since it’s gained an additional star in the meantime. The lunch menu is definitely a great value if you manage to get a reservation, and we were lucky that we were able to (thanks Grace!)
It was an extremely cold day when we went for lunch, made even colder by the wind chill factor. I’ll say that revolving doors make a great way of making sure that gusts of cold air don’t make their way into the dining room. Stepping through these doors, you’re welcomed almost immediately by a member of staff, coats taken and then quickly escorted to the bright, airy dining room (below). Weirdly enough, we were seated at exactly the same table we were last time!
The menu format still hasn’t changed. A four course menu depicts a journey that you get to pick the main attraction, but all scenery provided by the kitchen. This allows the restaurant to change the elements of the menu with seasonal produce and also produce some vastly different experiences (all good, rest assured).
Whilst deciding, we get to pick on some cheesy Gougère, strong in flavour, light in composition.
Followed almost immediately by the wonderfully velvety chicken veloute and parsely oil served from a teapot into a tea cup for easy drinking. It’s a great way to warm up after walking around outside.
Different from the amuse bouches of our last visit, we then received a foie gras paste perched perfectly atop brioche with chives. Yummo.
And like last time, had a wonderfully rich american sturgeon custard served in perfectly cut egg shells. The custard was more like a foam (maybe I’m getting it wrong) with the sturgeon eggs providing a wonderful contrast in flavour and texture as your spoon dips in. A little bit more flavoured oil (not sure what) sits in the bottom adding another dimension to the dish.
Fortunately there was no pork fat served with the bread, with the lighter butter made from goat’s cheese and the creamy yellow a French style. This time the bread was more like buttery croissant pastry turned into small parcels and hand delivered warm and fresh in a little pouch.
My first dish, was a crab roulade with avacado, apple and lime. Soft creamy elements and carefully adorned with fresh herbs and green leafs along its length. I really enjoyed the beautiful presentation and the flavours of this dish.
Following a seafood theme, the lobster poached with autumn mushrooms and spinach arrived looking like a work of art, carefully arranged in a single line unevenly offset on the right side of a huge plate. The pieces were generous and that mushroom/lobster foam was so rich and velvety but was carefully not overpowering the sweetness of the lobster flesh.
My final course before the desert was the guinea fowl roasted with pear, salsify and foie gras. This dish was a superb ascent to the top with rich, deep flavours that built on the previous ones. I suspect the guinea fowl had been cooked sous vie before being finished off under a broiler – there’s no other way I could imagine it retaining so much of that succulent juices.
After the previous course, a small cart got wheeled up. We had anticipated this after watching a number of other tables being served the same, wondering what it was. It’s a beautiful show. Decanters of lime juice, and cocoa milk tipped into a small glass before orange oil being dabbed in from yet another bottle. The finishing touch was a spray of seltzer water fizzing up the entire drink. I was reminded of drinking a light, liquid version of a Terry’s orange only much cleaner on the palette and an experience to remember. Now where do I find cocoa milk!
We then had another pre-dessert cleanser, made up of a custard and some fresh berry sorbet. I can’t remember the other elements as I was still thinking about the wonderful glass that preceded it.
For my main dessert, I’d ordered the hazelnut meringue with sorbet, chestnuts and pistachio. I was surprised at how fruity this dish was, considering hazelnut is classically paired with chocolate but it worked out surprisingly well.
Last year, I missed not having a coffee, so thought we would try the entertaining tableside coffee.
The petite fours arrived as well just as the coffee was being prepared. A beautiful white truffle chocolate bonbon with a creamy explosive centre full of truffle-essence.
Followed by a cocoa black truffle ganache providing a complement to the white.
Ok, I’ll admit I still prefer espresso to siphon coffee but I like the spectacle of the way they prepare it here. This is a picture of the tableside siphon coffee being prepared. First they allow you to smell the coffee, explaining its origin and then all the details about the temperature and time that are needed for the perfect brew.
And voila, the final product.
Another wonderful dining experience at Eleven Madison Park, and very deserving of their three stars.
Name: Eleven Madison Park
Found at: 11 Madison Avenue New York, NY