Earlier this month I was back in New York City and booked a lunch at Eleven Madison Park, located, you guessed it, 11 Madison Avenue, NY.
We decided to try this 3 starred Michelin, ranked number 10 of world’s top 50 restaurants, establishment because the menu concept and pictures we saw online felt very similar to one of my favorite restaurants in the NY area, Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
It was pretty much impossible to get a reservation for dinner 4 weeks before the meal, so I booked for a lunch. I got a very good first impression as it is the first NYC restaurant that has called me 5 days in advance to confirm and ask for any special requests, occasion or dietary needs. Other places even ones as nice as Eleven Madison usually just call 2-3 days before.
Lunch: 4 course pre fixe: $75++ Tasting Menu: $125++
Dinner: 4 course pre fixe: $125++ Tasting Menu: $195++
The 4 course pre fixe concept is: a simple matrix menu. There are 4 rows and 4 columns of single ingredients. The first row is appetizers, the second fish/seafood, the third meat, the fourth dessert. You choose one ingredient from each row, this would be the main ingredient of your dish, and leave the rest to the chef to “surprise you.” The very friendly and professional staff ask if you have any allergies or any special dietary needs or if you’d prefer a certain appetizer hot or cold and were very knowledgable about each ingredient and were smart to give you just enough information so that you know sort of what you are ordering but leave enough that you can still be surprised by what ends up in front of you.
The restaurant itself is located in a very tall and open air room. It felt liked walking back in time to the 1960s. There was a second floor private party room, but it was a very nice New York art-deco retro interior.
We decided that since it was our first time at the restaurant we would try the four course pre-fixe. This is also because we did not notice the tasting menu option at the bottom of the menu.
New York black and white cookie with black truffle center, the truffle added a light salty and aromatic taste to the New York classic.
sunny side up quail egg brioche and smoked apple tea with thyme, in addition to wonderful presentation, both of these were very delicious and the tea was very aromatic.
smoked sturgeon salmon roe with chive oil, once again well presented and tasted equally good.
bread baked with herbs from upstate New York with goat butter with dill, sea salt form Long Island, and cow butter with oats, the bread came out warm and toasted and tasted great! It was almost better than a freshly baked croissant. The butters and salt each had a unique taste and were each tasteful and went well with the bread even though the bread was just fine on its own.
We also ordered a light drink very suited to the sunny spring afternoon on this day. It was a home made ginger ale with some grapefruit juice, honey, lemon and a few other ingredients. This was in their booklet of a drink menu, for they have a very extensive wine list that looked to offer many many great wines.
One of us got the Foie Gras cooked warm (this was one with a cold or hot option). I was indeed surprised because it was such fine presentation I almost did not want to touch it. It was seared and served with kohlrabi, pork, and burnt ginger. The burnt ginger sauce and radish all blended together with the foie gras melting in my mouth. It was super good, one of the best foie gras dishes I have had. And the foie gras was not salty because the other ingredients balanced that out.
We also got the Asparagus. It was poached served with quail egg, shad roe, and rye. Once again a very well presented dish that tasted equally good with a very sweet and tender asparagus.
For the fish dish, I ordered the Cobia, poached and served with pine, mushroom, and garlic. The well presented dish was quite good, the fish was cooked through and very tender and soft, the garlic and mushroom added enough flavor but was not overwhelming.
My sister ordered the Lobster, poached and served with meyer lemon, burnt leek, and shelfish bisque. It was quite good and the lobster was sweet and fresh but I must say I preferred my Cobia more, I think it was because it was slightly lighter but equally flavorful.
For my main dish I ordered the beef, which was a 50 day aged ribeye steak, roasted served with wood scorrel and marble potatoes. It was super good, the beef simply melted away in my mouth and it was super tender and juicy. The main dishes at establishments like Eleven Madison usually disappoint in comparison to the wonderful and creative appetizers and amuse bouches but not this one, this one was just as good and well presented as the other dishes.
My sister ordered the Pork, braised and served with peas, acorn, and guanciale. It was braised to the point that the meat simply fell apart when you cut it, it was tender and juicy but I didnt enjoy at as much as my steak, partially because I am more of a steak person but also because I didnt really like the sauce the pork was braised in. But nonetheless a pretty good dish.
Before dessert we were treated to two palate cleansers. The first one was truly a surprise and and a spectacle to watch. It came straight from a chemistry lab form the looks of it. It was a tangerine infused carbonated milk drink. A modern take of another New York classic according to the staff. She rolled a cart over to the table and poured the ingredients into a glass and carbonated it on the spot. It was exciting to watch and equally exciting to drink.
The next one was another modern twist on a New York classic, the NY Cheesecake. It was a light dish, and was not overly cheesy.
For dessert, we both ordered the Malt. Served with sorbet, peanuts, pretzels, and dijon. It was a peanut butter pretzel crumble sort of dessert. It was devine and hit the spot.
We were surrounded by foodies like ourselves at lunch. Between each dish we had conversations with our neighbors about what was good and what other New York establishments we have had and recommend. From the top such as Per Se, Le Bernardin and Blue Hill at Stone Barn, to the lower priced places such as the Modern bar room, and Parm. A table behind us ordered an item that was not part of any menu at the restaurant but was something that could be requested. It looked like some botanical garden. A class dome enclosing what looked like flowers in a smoke coming from dry ice. The diners invited us over to look in wonder with them and also said we could take as many photos as we wanted. When the dome was lifted it revealed flowers on the bottom and toast, the waiters then brought along caviar. This was to create a way to eat the caviar. How I wished to try that caviar.
And at a table not far form us, the diners ordered Eleven Madison’s duck, which is roasted with lavender, and is meant to be shared with two people, we were offered the option as our main dish but we decided to try the other dishes.
It was a wonderful lunch. It might have been the sunny and breezy spring day, or the room filled with excited foodies. But I think it was really because of the food. Each dish was well crafted and presented, looking like works of art, and it came with a taste to match or even surpass the looks. Each dish was also consistent in terms of quality of taste and presentation. I must say this has climbed the ranks of my top restaurants to eat at in New York City in addition to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Sushi of Gari, the Modern, and a few others.
The next time you are in the city, I highly recommend you check out Eleven Madison Park, whether its for lunch or dinner, the pre-fixe or the tasting menu, I’m sure you wont be disappointed. Furthermore you can make reservations at open table or simply call them unlike overly pretentious establishments like Momofuku Ko that stress you out when you try to get a table and then go on to disappoint and underwhelm you and charge you a price that does not match the meal, but that is another story. For now, enjoy Eleven Madison Park.
Here is the website to check out their extensive wine list and sample menu, read their story or look at the mouth watering photos: