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Once in a lifetime experience with a visit to the kitchen: Restaurant Eleven Madison Park (14. June 2019)

| July 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

Dining at the Eleven Madison Park was on my bucket list for a while and it was finally the day when this was possible. You have to be super swift the moment the booking opens as pretty much the whole month is sold out within two minutes. I was lucky enough to score a booking for the desired evening. You have to prepay the “Tasting Menu” (364.73 USD incl. taxes) per person and you can still chose if you want to have the “Wine Pairing” (175.00 USD) [“A unique selection of wines from around the world paired with each course, that can be tailored to your preferences”] when you’re there. I pre-booked the menu but decided on the spot to go for the wine pairing.

But before you actually start with the dinner, I went for a drink called “Sorrel (milk-washed tequila, mezcal, fino sherry, lemon, finochietto)” (22.00 USD) which was not entirely to my liking. But the one my sister had was much better so it was easy to switch.

The menu started with “morel custard with trout roe” accompanied by “César Florida, Cruz del Mar, Fino, Jerez, Andalucia, Spain”. The fact that they prepared it at your table is something I like a lot.

At first, I was a bit skeptical with regards to the dish as it is not really something very typical with the warm custard and in terms of consistency it’s not the most appealing thing at first but the combination with the roe really made it quite delicious.

The second course, the “steelhead trout (with bread, butter and ramp)” was a lovely combination of flavors and went really well with the fresh bread and butter.

One of my high lights – although I was a bit skeptical about it – was the next course. Given they started serving “cheese cake” as a first thing, I was a bit surprised that you would get a dessert already at this point in time.

Turns out, it wasn’t a dessert at all but “caviar (cheese cake with smoked sturgeon, everything bagel and white asparagus)” and it was absolutely delicious. The accompanying wine, a “Bruno Dangin, Prestige de Narcès, Burgundy, France, 2016” was a prefect fit.

The slices of pickled white asparagus which were provided on the side in a separate tin can (the same you get with the menu when you leave – just no asparagus in it), rounded it off perfectly.

One of my high lights of that evening was the visit to the kitchen where we were presented with three different apple juices with different flavors – they would say which flavors there were but they wouldn’t tell us which flavor would be which spice.

The truly interesting part was watching how they were all very active in the kitchen and the short chat we had with Collin, the head sous-chef. Truly impressive what they produce here in a relatively small space.

As well as the number of people who are there present every single day – about 70 to 80. Of course including all staff like guest relations. But still, that’s a high number, I’d say.

What was great to see was that the chefs still enjoyed a compliment. When we were informed that the starters so far had come from “this corner of the kitchen” and we thanked them for their great work, we got a smile. I loved that.

Back at the table, it was time for “crab with sorrel and amaranth” accompanied by another French wine, a “Clos Cibonne, Rosé, Tradition, Côtes de Provence, France, 2016”. Now, let me say a word about the wines – I like that they fit the wines which I think they managed fairly well overall. However, the strong tendency towards France was something which partially disappointed me as I am of the opinion that they could have been a bit more ‘experimental’.

When we got a wrapped lettuce on the table I couldn’t hold back and ask what kind of funny food that was going to be. Turns out that was just to show us how the snails, which were one of the upcoming courses had been cooked and when the waitress had opened it, it was quite interesting to see that there were actually snails steamed in it.

But before the snails were served, it was time for “lobster (with green tomato and coriander)” accompanied by “von Winning, Riesling, Reiterpfad, Trocken, Pfalz, Germany, 2016” – this time a wine from Germany.

The dish was again finished at the table with a reduction …

… and I must say that it was a nice combination of flavors and consistencies.

Now, it was time for the snails. “Snails (grilled with spring garlic and lettuce)” and served with “Arnaud Lambert, Clos Tue-Loup, Saumur, Loire Valley, France, 2015” – another French wine.

And again finished with a reduction.

Now, I’m always curious about new things and I’m always happy to try new things but this was frankly a bit of a disappointment. The snails didn’t taste like much and I didn’t quite get what the lettuce added. The reduction provided it with a certain strength in flavor which was great – but other than that, it wasn’t really a revelation.

Luckily, the next course in line, the “duck (honey and lavender glazed with spring onion and daikon radish)” accompanied by another French wine, this time “J.L. Chave Selection, Offerus, St. Joseph, Rhône Valley, France, 2016” was absolutely delicious.

The “spring greens (with horseradish and mustard)” and “snow pea (with goat cheese and mint)” which were served with it on the side fit the dish perfectly.

But before you could dig in, the dish had to be finished off again with a reduction.

I mean, they really add to the plate and there is a show effect to it as well but I somehow felt like they were overdoing it because there was barely any of the dishes which didn’t come with some kind of reduction or sauce serving prepared at the table in front of you. However, this course really was delicious.

Next, we were asked if we wanted a cheese course to which we agreed, of course. Now, it was – technically speaking – a cheese course but not really the way I had imagined it. The cheese was served as a “triple cream cheese in brioche …”

“… with rhubarb and sorrel” which was a delicious combination as you could just part the bread and the liquid cheese would flow out. If you combined it with the “Cume do Avia, Dos Canotos, Ribeira, Galicia, Spain, 2017”, you had yourself a nice little cheesy dessert.

The first dessert was “lemon (with black sesame and yogurt)” served with a “Rare Wine Co, Boston Bual, Special Reserve, Madeira, Portugal” which was kind of a sherry. Quite an interesting combination really and definitely worth trying.

The last course was just somehow funny – the “chocolate covered pretzel” was a little bite before the end of the evening and just pleasant.

What I liked about the place was the actual space – the room where the people dine has tall ceilings and is super spacious.

Besides that is the little things which make a difference. On each table you would be able to find a box at first wondering what it is good for. The waitress then swiftly explains that it is designed by a local artist and its purpose is to hold your phones so you can fully indulge into the experience instead of texting with your phone. Admittedly, I did not give in to this tempting offer as else these pictures wouldn’t exist but I truly like the idea behind it.

Furthermore, the service at the Eleven Madison Park is absolutely outstanding! At all times, they make sure you get what you need – be it water or wine. The glasses never empty, there is always someone there to take care of you but without being intrusive or annoying – quite an art. Only with regards to the sommelier, I wouldn’t have mind a smile or two more. But everyone can have a not so optimal day – we all do.

Now, all in all, if you manage to get a table at the Eleven Madison Park, get it. It is – admittedly – a pricey experience with roughly 1’200 USD for two people (menu and wine pairing) but it is a pricey experience worth making! Make sure you set yourself a reminder in the agenda, register your profile on tock beforehand and make sure you have all the necessary data right at your fingertips as else you won’t stand a chance to get a table!


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Contact Details:

Restaurant Eleven Madison Park

11 Madison Avenue

10010 New York (US)

Tel.: +1 212 889 0905

E-Mail: info@elevenmadisonpark.com

Homepage: http://www.elevenmadisonpark.com

About the Author:

I started the blog in October 2009, while living in Milan which I definitely consider to be one of the food capitals of the world. I was in touch with food since my early childhood (as my father is a former chef). Whenever I can, I travel the world to discover new places, to meet people but mostly to try local dishes and to find hidden gems! If you know a place worth going, please drop a line to: info@thediningexperience.org. Currently, I am a member of the following food-related associations: Chevalier @Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Zurich-Ville; Membre Gourmet Dégustateur @Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs [OMGD]; Gesellschafter @Goldener Fisch and Member @Slowfood Convivium Zurich City.

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