New York, New York….there is no other city that makes me feel so alive. Other cities come very close but the nothing beats the buzz of walking the streets of New York!
And then there is the food! For months before we left I had been trawling the web, reading everything I could to make sure that I didn’t miss out on a fabulous meal while we were there.
We were in New York to celebrate my birthday…unfortunately it was one ending in a zero….but this only gave me another excuse to book some of New York’s top restaurants.
Eleven Madison Park or EMP as it is affectionatly known, often competes with Thomas Keller’s Per Se as the best restaurant in this city full of fabulous restaurants.
The art deco interior of the beautiful 1920’s Metropolitan Life North Building is a perfect setting for chef Daniel Humm to showcase his skills. High ceilings, stunning windows and beautiful flowers combine to provide an elegant yet relaxed feeling. The staff are very friendly and extremely professional.
A four course, a la carte menu is available, but for me it was always going to be the seven course degustation menu. Not included in this was the myriad of amuse bouche courses that were brought out as we sipped our aperitif.
The first came as a small gift box hiding two black and white cookies. Thoughtfully for those of us who have not heard of this american treat, a note explaining the significance of the cookies was attached. Originally found in 24 hour diners and old style bakeries, these cookies were made from left over cake batter and iced with chocolate on one side and vanilla on the other. But these were not at all like the original cookies. As we opened the box the smell of truffle permeated the air. Our cookies were filled with creme fraiche, truffles and foie gras. Sublime!
A cup of tea followed….a smoked apple tea infused with thyme which was served with the beautifully presented quail eggs on brioche with bacon. Greek yoghurt lollipops with curried lentils followed….again beautifully presented standing in a glass box of lentils. The smooth yoghurt mixture melted in your mouth and left a hint of curry that was on the crunchy lentils.
The amuse continued with chick pea panelle, the small mouthfuls of deep fried chick pea reminding us of our trip to Sicily.
The next amuse bouche was EMP’s famous Smoked Sturgeon- Sabayon with chive oil. Served in an egg shell, we were advised to make sure we incorporated the small pieces of smoked fish on the bottom in with the smooth, light sabayon. Perfection!
Intrigued by the arrival of a teapot sitting on a base of rocks, it was explained that a New York clam bake was on the menu. Hot liquid was poured over the rocks and the steam rose whilst two plates of clams done in different ways appeared. One was with trout roe, corn puree and chorizo and the other with fennel. A lobster and olive oil madeleine accompanied the dishes as the delicious corn chowder was poured from the teapot. A clever interpretation.
Then the tasting menu started!!
Our first course was cauliflower with tabbouli salad. Tiny,tiny pieces of cauliflower had been put together with grated lemon, orange and dried olive. As we bit through the cooked tabbouli snow, we reached a delicious parsley cream.
Slices of an excellent foie gras terrine followed. This was served with ramps, an american vegetable similar to a wild leek, a sorrel puree, buckwheat oasts and black truffles. The foie gras was as velvety and rich as it should be.
Hidden under a salad of spring greens which included snow pea sprouts and fiddle wood ferns, was our next course. Eat your salad for only then you will find the caraway gnocchi that will transport you to heaven!!
Lobster was the title on the menu for the next course. Little did I realise what a taste sensation this would be. The description of lobster poached in butter and served with a seafood sauce, charred leeks, charred leek sauce and charred bay leaf cake had me wondering. Unnecessarily of course. It tasted every bit as good as it looked.
And lunch continued……!
55- day dry aged Angus beef served with baby potatoes, sorrell sauce, pickled mushrooms and bordelaise sauce was perfectly cooked with the flavours complementing each other.
Let’s not forget the cheese course…Honfleur cheese melted over a potato confit with pickled onions and mustard seeds
Our pre-dessert course was a take on the New York Classic Egg Cream prepared on the trolley by the table. A small amount of citrus infused olive oil and coca infused milk was whisked together before being aerated. A great palate cleanser.
At this time we were invited to visit the kitchen. How fantastic!
A small standing table had been set up in an alcove on the edge of the kitchen for the restaurant guests. Here, as we chatted to the staff and watched the comings and goings, one of the pastry chefs whipped up her own concoction described as a ‘Jack Rose’- a brandy and grenadine based cocktail topped with a ball of apple puree sorbet that had been immersed in liquid nitrogen.
Dessert greeted us on our return to the table. Not one but two!
Goats milk cheesecake was served as a panna cotta type base with orange icecream and vanilla snow. I couldn’t decide whether I preferred this dessert or the bergamot cream with a drizzle of olive oil, milk chocolate icecream, and cocoa puff pastry crumble! Too hard!
At the end of this amazing meal, a bottle of Paul Beau cognac was left at the table and we were invited to stay as long as we would like. Petit fours arrived and disappeared very quickly and another box of black and white cookies also appeared for us to take home….sweet treats this time !
This is a reason that Eleven Madison Park is at No 10 on San Pellegrino’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef Daniel Humm and his partner Will Guidara, have created a stunning restaurant where the food is inventive and playful whilst still embracing reality.
A trip to New York will now always include a visit to Eleven Madison Park!
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Avenue
Tel:212 889 0905
Eleven Madison Park
Depending on when you are travelling, a lot of New York’s restaurants require booking a month in advance, especially for weekend dining. This can easily be done using ‘Open Table‘, a reservation system used by most of the restaurants. Find it at www.opentable.com
Having said that, don’t give up if there are no bookings available. We rang EMP on the day we wanted to go to lunch and were told that the restaurant was full but we could eat at the bar. When we arrived we were offered a table and in fact three tables remained free this day!!
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