Eleven Madison Park, New York

Easily one of the hottest tables in North America, hitting 10th best restaurant in the world 2012, and rocketing from 1 Michelin star, which it held for only 2 years to 3 Michelin stars – a feat that had the attention of the entire culinary world, it now seems that Eleven Madison Park is one of the most well documented restaurants  with it’s famous ingredients grid where one chooses flavours, not dishes and a surprise tasting menu, makes for a lot of hype and very high expectations. However, things had been going good for me as far as having high expectations for restaurants were concerned and one had the gut feeling that this was going to be no ordinary meal.

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Meeting up with another friend and foodie  who has also documented our experience here, we were there spot on at 530 whereby the swinging doors ushered us into an enormous, elegant space swathed in the afternoon summer sun. Not wanting to limit ourselves to the 4 course menu, we promptly opted for the full and hopefully endless tasting menu.

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Black and white
Cookies
Apple tea
Daikon & Mackerel
Quail egg

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Black and white cookies: A modern take on a classic New York snack – these were made of parmesan and truffle and were served, surprisingly, cold! Brilliant!

Apple and thyme tea: with a painstakingly even-cut and hay-tied bouquet of thyme, a hot apple tea is poured in for a refreshing nudge into the oncoming journey. Great!

Pickled daikon and horseradish chip with mackerel & lemon balm: Yes! You were a ticklingly (great scrabble word!) nippy little bite!

Quail egg on brioche: classic, not quite sure what it’s doing amongst the others, but oh well.

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Yoghurt and Curry
Chickpea
Apple snow

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Yoghurt lollipop with madras curry and lentils: Cute, refreshing and you cannot eat the lentils in the jar – they will hurt your teeth – maybe they ought to change that little fact!

Chickpea panisse: hmmm. much rather eat a falafel – nothing special about this one. Meh!

Apple snow, celery cream, black pepper: another bout of refreshing multi-textural goodness! Win!

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Eggs
Potato
Bread
Almonds

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Not an egg course, per se, but eggs nonetheless: Smoked sturgeon sabayon, dill oil with divine chunks of smoked sturgeon submerged within.

Fingerling potato with sturgeon and lemon caviar, chive gel A very favourable rendition of a classic.

Bread and butter – the goats butter was especially a pleasure.

Green almonds, almond curd, almond flowers, caramelised milk tuile, cucumber caviar, nasturtium, ham: a revelation! An astounding plate of food. The green almonds were greener than green – they had barely formed an almond shape before being plucked, hollow inside, a fresh, lightly tart herby flavour. The rest of the components, equally floral and reminiscent of summer.

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Foie Gras
Whey, camomile
Cobia
Beef

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Cured foie gras, sesame seeds, duck prosciutto, sesame vinaigrette: Not at all a fan of this – found it way too vinegary and tart, with none of the sesame coming through.

Whey, caraway gnocchi, fiddlehead ferns, curds, camomile broth, clover: A winner in many ways. A ‘botanic’ dish on all fronts with the bitter floral notes of chamomile rounding up the rest of the ingredients.

Poached cobia, pine nuts, mushroom, garlic: Firstly, I wouldn’t want to be the chef who has to sit there slicing pine nuts all day long! Secondly, roast garlic always has my utmost appreciation! So all in all, good eating.

55-day aged beef, marbled confit potatoes, wood sorrel, white beech mushrooms, bordelaise sauce with bone marrow Harking back to classical roots, as good a beef as can be, though nothing ground breaking.

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Cheese
Pre-dessert
Egg cream
Cheesecake

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Cheflueada, mustard seed, potatoes, pickled onion: not being one for a full on cheese plate, this slipped by without being too intrusive.

Egg cream: a pre-dessert containing neither egg, nor cream! Vanilla malt, milk, sparkling water and olive oil, frothed up by the table, swizzled and drunk in one fell swoop – a funky carbonated milkshake!

Cheesecake: vanilla cream, cara-cara orange jelly, vanilla ‘snow’, blood orange sorbet, meringue stick – a flawless combination of ingredients in  flawless execution!

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Chocolate
Jack Rose
Black & White cookies
Bonbon

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Chocolate Sorbet, Chocolate Puff Crumble, Meyer lemon cream: As uninspiring and exciting as it looks. Like it was a plating decision made under the confusion of a canine personality.

At this point in the proceedings, the gracious manager upped the game and added a few extra layers to our evening and ushered us into the kitchen where from behind a carefully placed table, we were able to watch a quiet and very diligent team work as a finely tuned machine. A young chef soon came over and along with the manager, made us an edible cocktail, Jack Rose, with compressed apples, apple brandy frozen with liquid nitrogen and nitro-frozen pomegranate meringue liqueur. As far as pre-digestifs go, this is right up there!

Proceeding from the kitchen, we were led through a secret passage way and brought out to sit in  a small lounge space reserved for a handful of customers where a bottle of calvados was placed before us and we were told to make our way through as much of it as we possibly could, with no hurry to leave the premises. Happy happy, joy joy! We did leave a couple of hours later leaving an empty bottle behind!

So, anyway, petit fours brought us the sweet version of Black & White cookies & Chocolate caramel, peanut butter and popcorn bonbon. Light, and precise, to the point and there ended the seemingly endless flow of food, allowing us to consume the calvados in glorified satiation.

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Granola

And as you get up to leave and start making your way back into the real world, a bag containing a large jar of home made granola for  your breakfast is promptly placed in your hands! May the experience never end!

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What an evening. Given the acceptance that in a meal involving as many plates of food as this, a few reservations for disappointment are not only to be expected, but necessary, the overall view was that Eleven Madison Park is hitting all the right notes – and do so as a 3 star Michelin restaurant, serving 150 covers a night (twice the number of any 3 star restaurant), it’s kudos all the way!

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Recommend you go: By all means! 

Food: 10

Website
Eleven Madison Park on Urbanspoon

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