Eleven Madison Park
July 28, 2007
For the third dining celebration of my 67th birthday we went to Eleven Madison Park with Ron and June, our first time at this highly-rated restaurant set in what had been the cavernous art deco executive briefing center of The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The extensive wine list came right away; we ordered a bottle of 2005 Whetston “Catie’s Corner” (Russian River Valley) Viognier.
Then, even before the menus, a plate of luscious little hors d‘oeuvres arrived, plus two little bowls of hot gougères. The delicious little trompe l’oeil carrot was made of a sweetbread purée.
Our menus had “Happy Birthday Michael” printed across the top, a nice touch which it took me a while to notice as I was deep into trying to make choices. Two courses, plus dessert are offered at $82, three and dessert for $96; there is a $145 Menu Gourmand with thirteen courses for $145, or $235 with wine pairings. We chose the four-course option. (There were $15 supplements for the foie gras and the lobster.)
We ordered a second bottle of the Viognier and a bottle of 2005 Capiaux “Gary’s Vineyard” (Santa Lucia Highlands) Pinot Noir.
The amuse-gueule was a bowl of strawberry gazpacho.
June started with the Heirloom Beets, Marinated with Olio Verde, Aceto Balsamico and Lynnhaven “Chèvre Frais.” Cubes of various colored roasted beets were arranged like a Mondrian on the plate.
Ron and Linda started with the Êlevages Périgord Farm Foie Gras “Mille Feuilles” with Bing Cherries and Pistachio, Sour Cherry Brioche. A mousse of foie gras from Québec had been formed into a small layered cake. In addition to the little bowl of bing cherries and the flavored brioche, there was a foie gras crème brulée.
My first course was the La Ratte Potatoes Gnocchi with Hawaiian Prawns, Calamari, Celery and Meyer Lemon. Rattes are my favorite potatoes when we are in France. Here they had been grated and made into light flavorful gnocchi, which were then mixed with the seafood and a delicate sauce which brought all the flavors together.
Ron and June’s fish course was the Chilean Turbot “Sous Vide” with Saffron Fumet, Ratatouille and Tarragon. The slice of turbot had been layered with thin cucumber slices before being wrapped and slowly cooked. The ratatouille was stuffed inside a zucchini blossom and steamed.
Linda and I continued with the Nova Scotia Lobster Lasagna with Baby Artichokes, Summer Flowers and Verbena. Celery oil and balsamic vinegar were dribbled on the lobster and the lasagna sheets in a bowl of lobster reduction stock.
For the meat course Linda had the Dry Aged Black Angus Beef Seared with Bone Marrow, Green Asparagus, Chanterelles and Sauce Bordelaise.
Ron had the Vermont Farm Suckling Pig Confit with Cipollini Onions, Apricot Chutney and Cardamom Jus. The roasted and carved suckling pig meat had been formed into a rectangular cake topped with the crisp skin which is the main point of suckling pig.
June and I shared a Grimaud Farms Muscovy Duck, Glazed with Lavender Honey and Spices (for two). The skin was crackling without losing the flavor of the spices or drying out the meat of the duck.
For dessert the other three had the Frog Hollow Farm Peach Soufflé with Lemon Thyme Ice Cream. The ice cream was served on an oval of ice.
I had the Bing and Amarena Cherry Composition with Almond Cake and Tea Consommé. The dish had “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate and a candle in the back. .
A bowl of little mignardises on lollipop sticks was brought along with the coffee and two wrapped cranberry-orange cakes to take home for our breakfast.
All in all the food and service were perfect. This is what one might expect from a Swiss chef and a Danny Meyer establishment. The ingredients and technique were excellent. The cuisine did not lack imagination, but it seemed to lack joie de vivre, as did the service. The big room with high ceilings made it easy to hear, but also created no sense of intimacy. The clientele was quite varied: lots of different types of people out to have a good time and willing to spend some money. I was surprised that most of the men were not wearing jackets as I had been told that they were expected when they called to reconfirm my reservation. It was interesting to watch people at nearby tables, who did not give the outward appearance of being gourmets, taste their food, swish their wine and discuss their meal. Well, that is New York at its best.
Click here to see Off the Broiler’s copiously illustrated blogpost.
The current Menu Gourmand
Royal Sterling Caviar“ Vichyssoise” of Caraquet Oysters
“Insalata Caprese” Buffala Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil
Wild Scottish Langoustine “En Gelée de Bouillabaisse” with Cape Cod Bay Crab
Êlevages Périgord Farm Foie Gras “Mille Feuilles” with Bing Cherries and Pistachio, Sour Cherry Brioche
Chilean Turbot“ Sous Vide” with Saffron Fumet, Ratatouille and Tarragon
Nova Scotia Lobster Slow Cooked with Bacon Custard and Sweet Corn
Four Story Hill “Poussin” Poached with Hawaiian Prawns and Vin Jaune
Jamison Farm Lamb Roasted Loin, Braised Shoulder and Sautéed Sweetbread with Artichokes
Fromage Selection of Farmstead Cheeses
Green Market Strawberry Sorbet with Champagne “Meringue” and Mint
Araguani Grand Cru Chocolate Symphony with Caramel and Maldon Sea Salt