It was a year ago that I received a gift certificate to Eleven Madison Park. Widely considered one of the finest dining experiences in New York City, EMP was at the very top of my list. And while it seems odd it took over a year to finally make it there, I am thrilled we waited. Because after being anointed one of the world’s top 50 restaurants and receiving the rare 4th star from the New York Times, the Chef and General Manager decided to make drastic changes. These drastic changes would include the evolution of the dining experience starting with the “menu” as you can see above. 4 course meals that are directed by a single ingredient would make for a radically new experience for the diners all while maintaining the close attention to the details that made EMP what it was. Now while I can’t speak on the “before”, the “after” is a whimsical and powerful testament to the beauty of fine dining.
Simply put EMP delivered exceptional service and an ambience that screams “we pay attention to detail”. And while fine dining can often be stuffy and a bit off-putting to us commoners, Em and I were taken away by the evening. Luckily servers at a place like EMP are smart enough to adapt to their customers. But the food clearly remains the star.
Small bites of wonderment starting flying out of the kitchen onto our table as soon as our “order” was taken. A halibut dashi poured over a bundle of thyme and seaweed served like a “tea” was exceptional. Somehow managing to be delicate and bursting with flavor all at the same time, there is no question I will be craving this “tea” in the future. The miniature baguettes with two types of butter and sea salt sounds simple but the execution was flawless. The goat’s milk butter was truly amazing. And then came the truffle beignets. You’ve heard me mention the New Orleans classics from Cafe Du Monde a million times but these truffle packed versions were a whole new experience.
And then came the 4 courses. The most memorable being a hamachi carpachio with freeze-dried citrus and the black truffle puree that was texturally ridiculous. The desserts pairing chocolate with black sesame and coconut with tropical fruits were both familiar and radical in the same. And with every plate being presented as a piece of art work, our eyes did as much work as our taste buds.
While I want to apologize for seeming dramatic and over the top with my description, I simply can not. Dining at Eleven Madison Park will always be one of my most cherished food memories. And while the price tag may make this a rare occurrence, I feel it was truly worth it. What a stunning meal!