My relationship with Eleven Madison Park caused a little bit of a ruckus once. The first time I dined there, I thought the meal was generally fantastic but not as life-altering as I’d expected. I gave it meal 4 out of 5 donuts without an ounce of malevolence intended. But the restaurant wanted me to be completely happy, so they invited me back for a meal on the house and the opportunity to be wowed. People on the food-related message board where I posted the review called me a whiner, and donuts4dinner got mean comments for the first time in its history. But I didn’t care, because my second meal at EMP was so phenomenal that I regretted my first review and became an EMP fan for life. My third visit was also excellent and had me asking if this was the best restaurant in NYC.
I went back for the fourth time almost a year ago and had a meal that easily bettered my third and may have been more delicious than even my second. I had decided after my third time at EMP that while I loved it, it wasn’t the best fine dining experience in all of NYC. My fourth meal there changed my mind. Everything was so exciting and new, so amazingly delicious, and coupled with such perfect service that there was no question anymore. I never posted a review back then, but feeling the effects of EMP withdrawal recently, I pulled my pictures out and decided I at least wanted that much of a record of the meal here. I’ve heard that the menu is totally different at EMP these days, so don’t use this as any indication of what you might see there now, but you can bet the food is still just as incredible.
Bereche & Fils, Brut Reserve, Ludes, Champagne, France
CHEDDAR: savory black and white cookie with apple
OYSTER: wood sorrel, buckwheat, mignonette
SEA URCHIN: custard with apple, scallop, and chervil
Bodegas El Maestro Sierra, Jerez, Spain
SURF CLAM: morcilla sausage, pear, and celery root
LITTLENECK CLAM: clambake with whelk, Parker House roll, and chowder
Francois Villard, Les Terrasses du Palat, Condrieu, Rhone Valley, France 2009
FOIE GRAS: terrine with bitter greens, pear, and achovy
Pichler-Krutzler, Gruner Veltliner, Loibner Klostersatz, Wachau, Austria 2011
Whole carrots, ground tableside.
CARROT: tartare with rye bread and condiments
What’s more exciting than a whole tray of fresh ingredients to play with?
The kitchen tour always includes a liquid nitrogen cocktail.
Schlossgut Diel, Riesling, Dorsheim, Trocken, Nahe, Germany 2010
LOBSTER: poached with rutabaga, pear, and lovage bisque
Domaine Comte Abbatucci, Rouge Frais Imperial, Sciacarellu, Corsica, France
SALSIFY: roasted with apples and black pudding
Tenuta Sella, Nebbiolo, Lessona, Piedmont, Italy 2006
They presented the 140-day aged ribeye to us and then took it back to the kitchen to prepare it.
BEEF: grilled with mushrooms and bone marrow, braised oxtail with foie gras and potato
Ithaca Beer Company, Picnic Basket Ale, Ithaca, New York
GREENSWARD: pretzel, mustard, and dried fruit
MALT: egg cream with vanilla and seltzer
J.J. Prum, Bernkasteler Lay, Auslese, Mosel, Germany 1998
J.J. Prum is my absolute favourite wine, and it just appeared at our table out of nowhere. I wouldn’t put it past EMP’s amazing customer service to have researched the wine we liked.
CELERY ROOT: creme cake with apple sorbet, walnut, and white pepper
SHEEP’S MILK: cheesecake with earl grey and honey
At the time, EMP was known for its magic trick. The server brought our dessert plates to us and then asked us to pick a card from a deck. Each card had a different ingredient printed on it, and I chose a card with a rose. When I lifted my plate, the top separated from the base, and underneath was a rose-flavored chocolate that had been there all along. I’m weirdly a fan of magic tricks, so I thought this was the coolest. Other people thought it was gimmicky, but other people are curmudgeons.
PRETZEL: chocolate covered with sea salt
CHOCOLATE: sweet black and white cookie with apricot
So now you see why I can’t wait to go back.