Eleven Madison Park

When I dreamed of the moment I would get to have my way with NYC, I always saw Per Se as the juicy succulent main course, and all other dining adventures as just appetizers to whet my appetite.  I didn’t give much thought to what else could be on the menu.  The Pouter, being the savvy foodie she is, told me to make reservations at Eleven Madison Park in addition to Per Se.  Unfortunately she had to bow out, so I filled the empty spots with good ole sistah, Triple F, and my dearest mums.  Triple T and Smooth Obturator had to stay home and watch the 3 Little Monsters.  Oh snap, did those two miss out on the BEST FUCKING MEAL OF A LIFETIME!  Eleven Madison Park turned out to be the stunning pièce de résistance of my all too short NYC food tour.

Cheddar savory black and white cookie with apple

Who doesn’t like little boxes tied up in string with a delicious surprise hiding inside?  I can’t really say these tasted like cheddar or apple but they are misleading sweet when in fact they were savory.

 





Sea Urchin snow with smoked cantaloupe and yogurt

A bright refreshing start to the menu.  Who know cantaloupe would pair so nicely with uni.  There was also basil and lime yogurt adding some more herbaceous and acid notes.  Two bites and this was gone gone gone.





Surf Clam tomato, beans, and savory

The tomato espuma sitting on top had the delicious essence of a wonderful summer tomato with a refreshing little clam hidden underneath.





Littleneck Clam Manhattan Chowder with Whelk and Scallop

I think we all love a show, and nothing is cooler than watching your food cook while you’re eating something else.  They brought a beautiful glass tea pot filled with herbs, celery, tomatoes, clams, bacon and then poured a piping hot clam broth infused with tomato water and clam juice.  We munched on other things while this wonderful bounty of flavors steeped into umami goodness.

Carrot Chip topped with tomato confit, vinegar powder, myer lemon gel

The fanciest vegetable chip you’ll ever eat.

Whelk with fennel and couscous

Little neck clams with corn and bacon

Scallops with tomato water gelee

The shellfish heaven finally came to an end with this little trio.  I’m not a huge fan of couscous but this was nice.  The clams with corn and bacon were obviously my favorite.

Tomato Confit buttermilk dressing
Blog fans might know about my love for tomatoes.  This was an amazing sort of deconstructed tomato salad.  All the elements of the salad were actually served on top of the tomato with the dressing on the side.  Godamnit, was it delicious!

 

Lobster salad bonito
It only got better and better.  These beautiful lobster claws were filled with the yummiest, sweetest, freshest lobster salad.  Similar profile flavors found in the heirloom tomato were also incorporated here with a tomato bavarois that was stuffed on top in the claw.  It was creamy tomato-y goodness.
A savory tomato soup was served at the end to wash it all down.  So many textures and dimensions of flavors were really highlighted by this course.




Bread & Butter

These fancy places love to talk about their butter that comes from so and so creamery/farm, where the cows are happy and produce liquid gold that gets churned into tasty creamy spreadable fat.  I think the flakey croissant like rolls were unctuous and buttery enough on their own, but with globs of creamy gold, man, I could just feel my mid section growing.

 





Foie Gras Custard brûléed with summer berries, rye, and nasturtium

Smooth, velvety, savory, with a crispy sweet crisp glaze on top.  The fruit really rounded out the flavors.  Fucking amazing!





Carrot tartare with rye bread and condiments

This was a clever play on steak tartare which is typically finely chopped or minced raw beef.  Instead, they take carrots, grown in Upstate New York in special soil that imparts a delicious sweetness, and put them through a grinder at tableside.  The texture is quite similar that of a steak tartare.  They serve it with an eclectic variety of condiments.  You wouldn’t think any of these ingredients (spiced ginger oil, plum puree, sunflower seeds, confit. dehydrated mackerel, chives, pickled mustard seeds, fresh horseradish, plum chutney, salts) would create any harmony together, but this one of the strongest dishes consider there were no proteins or expensive ingredients.  Maybe I was just smitten by the clever presentation.  Can you be smitten by food??

 

 

 

 

 





Black Bass poached with zucchini and squash blossoms

It looks like a fish with baby zucchini scales, a fin of squash blossoms filled with ratatouille on an ocean of saffron sauce.  Definitely a very delicate dish with a beautiful presentation.





Ostrich Egg corn pudding with truffle and buttermilk

Seriously, this place does cute, creative, and clever to a fun amusing level.  I think eating in the summertime has to be one of the best seasons since two of my favorite ingredients, corn and tomatoes, made a strong showing during this meal.  To make the dish even yummier, they added black truffle puree with buttermilk and corn espuma.  They cured the ostrich egg yolk and grated it on top.  I can’t say I noticed it much.  Oh yeah, and it was actually served in a real ostrich egg shell!





Beef grilled with onion, cherries, and ginger

Service was impeccable here.  I had to go to the restroom right around this time, but as I left the table I noticed our waiter carrying this hunk of meat to the table and then he made his way back to the kitchen.    He was very subtle about it, but it’s clear they don’t want their patrons to miss a beat.  So behold! 140 days dry aged rib eye.  As our waiter was describing the mold growing on the exterior of the meat, he used words like “rich, blue cheese, nutty.”  I can’t say I really tasted any of this.  It just tasted like rich beefy meat.  I really liked the crispy amaranth, which looks like a giant pile of pepper on the plate, but is actually a grain.  It added nice texture.  The onions, cherries, bone marrow, and beef bourdalaise sauce was simple but refined at the same time.

 

This accompanying dish was also made with the same beef, a bit leaner piece, with similar flavor profiles.  It was meant to be eaten in one bite, so I did not hesitate.



Greensward pretzel, mustard, and green tomato

My mom, who was snapping pictures of all the food with her own camera (I guess I know where my foodie disease came from, huh?), was impressed with all that Eleven Madison Park had to offer up until this course.  Everything was made locally and specifically for the restaurant exclusively.  I’ll admit, it was a bit of an oddly timed course, being very more appetizer like, and so randomly simplistic after all that.  Aside from that, I did like all the components, but my mom kept complaining.  Sometimes she’s such a hard lady to please.

 

 



Malt egg cream with vanilla and seltzer

There’s actually no eggs and no cream in this.  It’s made with vanilla malt syrup, seltzer water, and we were told to drink it before it deflated too much.  It was kinda fizzy, kinda creamy, and not too sweet.  Interesting.





Sassafras sorbet with banana cake, caramel, and vanilla

I don’t like banana stuff too much, but this was delicious.





Red Pepper cheesecake with strawberry and cashew

I liked this dessert even more because I can be quite partial to cheesecake.  I thought the red pepper strawberry sorbet was different and tasty.





Pretzel chocolate covered with sea salt

These were probably more memorable than the last two desserts, probably because they are just so simple but they were done really well.  Deep rich dark chocolate covered crispy earthy crunchy pretzels.  We brought these home and Triple F and Smooth Obturator gobbled these up.

Apple Eau de Vie 

We were so excited when they just left the whole bottle at our table and told us to “help ourselves to as much as we liked.”  Sounds like apple water right?  Hellllzzz no.  This sh*t would burn a hole through your stomach.  It tasted like rubbing alcohol with the slight hint of apple once and if the burn wore off.  Not sure how this is supposed to round out the meal.

Chocolate sweet black and white cookie with apricot

Didn’t get any pictures of these because we took them home and ate them later.

The meal ended with the neatest trick!  Don’t read any further if you plan on eating here and want to be surprised.
**SPOILER ALERT**

So the waiter brought out small covered dishes for each of us.  He then showed us a whole deck of cards with different ingredients.  He then collected them back into a deck and we each discreetly picked 3 at random.  When we revealed our respective ingredients, orange, mint, and popcorn, we were instructed to uncover our dishes and found those exact same ingredients as flavored chocolates.  MAGIC!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

As if the meal could not get any FUCKING AMAZE-BALLS, we each were given a jar of granola to have for breakfast the following day.  Holy crap!!!  Best FUCKING granola ever!!  It was sweet and a tad salty.  Seriously it was sooo good, that my mom hoarded a jar for herself to enjoy after the vacation ended.  The 3 Little Monsters LOOOOOOOOVED this stuff.  One of the Little Monsters didn’t really have any real chompers at the time but he hoovered this shit up.  Where there is a will, there is a way.  I’m surprised he never choked!

 

Eleven Madison Park is by FAR the BEST meal I’ve had in my entire life.  Granted it’s been a pretty short life, and even shorter if you only consider the last 4 years when my foodie-ness sky rocketed to the stratosphere.  But still, I think my palate can accurately judge this place.  I mean, it IS #5 on the list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants.  I didn’t even know that before dining here.  Heck, I didn’t know much about this place.  It seriously was a surprise, and maybe that contributed to feeling like Chef Daniel Humm really knocked it out of the park.  Everything was simply impeccable, from service, innovation, execution, and taste.  I can’t say any one dish faltered or bored me.  Everything was delicious and exciting.  I really appreciated the whimsy here, somewhat akin to Alinea, but toned down a bit.  If you go to NYC, and are looking for the meal of a lifetime, skip Per Se and come to Eleven Madison Park.  This one is going down in the history books for me.

 

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