To celebrate my 30th birthday, Tommy surprised me with a dinner at the acclaimed Eleven Madison Park.
Located in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, Eleven Madison Park sits inside the Art Deco Metropolitan Life Skyscraper and faces quaint Madison Square Park. The restaurant is owned by chef Daniel Humm and restauranteur Will Guidara and has held three Michelin stars since 2012. The restaurant even earned the top spot on San Pellegrino’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 (once you’ve reached #1, you are no longer eligible to be on the list again) and have numerous James Beard Awards (outstanding service, outstanding chef, outstanding pastry chef, outstanding restaurant, and best chef New York City).
I had a slight inkling that Tommy picked Eleven Madison Park for my birthday dinner since its a world-renowned restaurant and also a contributing restaurant for In Situ (we served their iconic “carrot tartare” dish).
The tasting menu at Eleven Madison Park is slightly different as the diner gets to choose some of the appetizers, the main course, and a dessert (a handful of dishes all guests receive). Since we wanted to try more dishes, Tommy and I picked different items and shared everything.
Since I don’t eat mushrooms, they prepared a different custard than the typical one on the tasting menu.
The silky smooth custard was reminiscent of Japanese chawanmushi with just of hint of spring onion flavor that could have been more intense. The freshly shucked sweet green peas were most definitely the highlight.
For Tommy’s dish, he received a morel mushroom custard with beautiful trout roe on top (I tasted just the trout roe).
Warm buttery rye bread rolls were seasoned with caraway seeds. I could have easily eaten a few more of these.
Stunning steelhead trout was beautifully made into a tartare seasoned with layers of grated horseradish, daikon, ginger, pickled mustard seeds, and coriander blossoms. The contrasting textures, colors, and flavors made for a delectable dish.
I was thrilled when I saw them roll out the “cheesecake” cart as it has become a signature dish at Eleven Madison Park.
One of their signature dishes lived up to the hype. A clever take on a New York bagel with everything seasoning bagel “crumble” crust with a creamy cheese filling topped with thin veils of smoked sturgeon topped with golden caviar and a rich mussel cream sauce poured table side. Even though the slice might look small, it’s such a decadent and rich dish that this was the perfect amount.
I can’t remember if the white asparagus was pickled or fermented but either way, it helped cut through the richness of the savory cheesecake.
A modern interpretation of a crab salad with sweet soft crab meat hiding underneath the acidic sorrel and nutty herbal amaranth grains.
Flaky black pepper sablé was the foundation for the strawberry chutney and marinated foie gras torchon. While the flavor was great, the proportion of foie gras to strawberry to sablé was unbalanced for me (too much foie gras and strawberry).
In the middle of the meal, they asked if we would like a kitchen tour and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity especially since it had been just remodeled. We even had a fun apple juice tasting where we were presented with three apple juices, each flavored with a different spice. We had to guess which spice went with the apple juice which was incredibly difficult as the flavor was so subtle. Tommy was able to get one right though!
Bright, summery, and fresh where the tender meaty pieces of lobster truly shine.
Another vibrant summery dish was supple black bass garnished with various herbs and chickpea.
Before our next course, one of the cooks came out to present a bundle of seasonal greens. She cut through the bundle to reveal whole cooked snails that have been perfumed with the various greens (Swiss chard, red frill, red gem lettuce, mustard greens, and a mint relish).
This was probably my least favorite dish but only for personal reasons of not loving snails. The execution was spot on as the snails were tender but still had some texture and the charred lettuce had a nice depth of flavor with the roasted lettuce sauce.
Dry-aged duck, another signature dish and for good reason, was beautifully cooked with crispy skin and tender meat. The honey lavender duck was finished with a Sichuan peppercorn crust, a genius addition that made for a fantastic dish.
Contrasting textures of the lamb, a super crispy piece as well as a braised piece, were complemented with creamy fava bean purée and garnished with floral anise hyssop.
Simple yet fresh side dishes served along with the duck and lamb.
The cheese course was unconventional but nevertheless delicious. Warm brioche rolls were oozing with melty triple cream cheese. So good.
Of course, Tommy went for the chocolate dessert. I liked the simplistic plating and contrast in colors with the chocolate quenelle filled with shortbread and the stark white refreshing milk ice cream.
I went for the strawberry dessert (the third option was a lemon dessert) where the flavors were diverse. Resembling a cluster of berries, different techniques were used to replicate the berries from marinating, poaching, and glazing strawberries. The vanilla mousse, crunchy meringue, and delicate jasmine syrup only enhanced the natural flavors of the strawberries.
Another nod to Manhattan with these dark and white chocolate shaped pretzels to finish the tasting menu. As our take-home gift, we received two jars of homemade granola (a handful of fine dining restaurants have been doing this such as Manresa), and our personalized menus in cute Eleven Madison Park tins.
Expertly crafted dishes were presented with such care where delicious bold flavors with subtle nuances combined to make harmonious dishes. From taste and flawless technique, Eleven Madison Park perfectly executed their New American cuisine with homages to New York City. However, some of the flavors of the dishes I had experienced in some shape or form in the past whereas my dinner a few nights prior at Atomix showed me tastes and combinations I hadn’t tried. Regardless, Eleven Madison Park deserves the recognition that they have and I would most certainly dine there again so my rating is a 8.5-9/10.