When we arrived, we were greeted by name and seated in a corner booth under one of the enormous windows casting beautiful natural light throughout the space. There was even a card on the table with my name on it.
Naturally, we started with some bubbles!
Our visit to NYC coincided with a heat wave that caused temperatures to reach over 110 degrees. Given the heat and the graduation ceremony for Justin's brother we were attending afterwards, we chose the now defunct four course menu ($74). Shortly after our visit, Eleven Madison Park converted their dining experience into an extravagant four hour long tasting menu which pays homage to the history of New York ($195).
Rather than a traditional menu, Eleven Madison Park presents diners with a four by four grid from which you choose one item from each row. When ordering, we were asked to state any preferences whether because of allergies or dislikes. As someone with shall we say "selective tastes" (i.e. kind of picky), I appreciated that this system allowed for the surprise of a tasting menu without any surprises of the unpleasant kind (*cough* fish *cough*).
Our visit gave us a preview of some of the changes to come at Eleven Madison Park-- for example, these savory parmesan and black truffle black and white cookies, which arrived as our first amuse bouche.
The smoked apple celery tea with a thyme bundle was uniquely sweet and savory.
Bacon chive brioche
Crispy panisse with dill yogurt
The curry lollipops with lentils were my favorite amuse. Their cool crunch and creamy interior were delightfully surprising and reminded me of a savory ice cream bar.
Chive oil egg sabayon-- Justin's with sturgeon and mine without.
The bread with goat's milk and cow's milk butter was another pre-meal highlight. We could scarcely stop ourselves from piling the creamy, rich butters on the bread, which was somehow both flaky like a croissant and crunchy like a roll.
Asparagus: Asparagus poached in buttermilk with quail egg
Hamachi: Hamachi with horseradish, pumpernickel crisps and apple sorel vinaigrette
Lobster: Lobster poached in meyer lemon with smoked leek and black garlic.
This vibrant, beautifully composed dish was even more wonderful to eat and remains, hands down, the best lobster I've ever had.
Plantain: Plantain with ham, black eyed pea ragout, cilantro and cheese
Lamb: Lamb loin with hay, freekeh and artichoke
Pork: Pork cheek with mint guanciale sauce, spring pea and shaved asparagus
Following our third course, we were treated to a kitchen tour and liquid nitrogen cocktails. During the tour, we learned that, as the restaurant prides itself on giving diners the same quality of experience at lunch and dinner, it has approximately the same number of kitchen staff at both meals. Justin and I marveled at how busy yet quiet the kitchen was.
Liquid nitrogen cocktail
When we returned to our table, it was time for Eleven Madison Park's tribute to the egg cream, prepared with whole milk infused with cocoa nibs, seltzer and orange oil and syrup.
The sweet, fizzy and refreshing drink signaled the beginning of our dessert courses.
Chevre: Goat cheese cheesecake with raspberry gelee and chamomile sorbet
Malt (birthday bonus edition): Malt sorbet with peanut brittle
"Happy Birthday" chocolates
After we wrapped up our meal, a member of the staff walked up to us and handed us a bag, saying, "We heard you were going to an outdoor graduation ceremony later. You'll need this!" The bag contained coconut water, sunscreen, a spray bottle, Evian water spray, tissues and water balloons-- an incredibly considerate gesture which both touched and surprised us. The food alone was enough to make the meal unforgettable, but the quality of the service floored us and solidified the experience as my best meal to date.
Although this post is admittedly overdue, I've thought back many times on our meal at Eleven Madison Park and still feel giddy when I remember the remarkable food and attentive, warm, and decidedly unpretentious service. Thank you, Justin, for the fabulous birthday present. I'm a lucky, lucky girl!
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010