Eleven Madison Park

January 23, 2017 § Leave a comment

The first and only other time I’d ever been to Eleven Madison Park, temple of gastronomy and world-class service, was as a Cahill summer associate, when the world of fine-dining was still brand new and, frankly, very intimidating to me. Cindy and I finally managed to get a 9:30 p.m. reservation towards the end of our summer and stayed until around 1:00 a.m., after finishing one of the most memorable meals ever.

So it was only fitting that, when Wes was deciding which restaurants he wanted to visit before leaving us for Austin FOREVER, he chose Eleven Madison Park as one of them and rounded up a crew of Cahill’s most delinquent current and former associates for one hell of a dinner. I arrived early and tucked into a Start Me Up – bourbon, rum, strega, honey, ginger, lemon, orange bitters – at the cozy bar (where you can order a shorter tasting menu, first come, first serve) and then we were seated and started with these black and white savory cookie with apple and cheddar, basically a fancified version of Cheez-its (in the most delicious way possible).

Next, a tower of beautiful wooden boxes that slowly revealed parsnip pie; celery root with black truffle; rutabaga with celery and walnuts; salsify with garlic and thyme. The parsnip pie, with its super delicate crust, was particularly delicious.

Caviar Benedict with smoked sturgeon, ham and pickled egg yolk – a supremely elegant and expensive version of an Egg McMuffin, presented in the most beautiful tin, a replica of which we got to take home with us.

Bread course. Note also the Jono Pandolfi ceramics, all of which I wanted to tuck into my bag and take home with me.

Foie gras – seared with Brussels sprouts and lemon. You can choose between a cold terrine and the seared, though to me it’s a pretty obvious choice. It’s a small, perfectly cooked portion of foie jam-packed with flavor and a nice hit of tartness.

Lobster – butter-poached with rutabaga and pear. Gorgeous to look at and the lobster was super sweet and tender. I don’t usually care for fruit in savory dishes but liked the earthiness the pear lended to this dish.

Our next course was a vegetable course of celery root with truffle jus that was prepared table-side a la Paul Bocuse in an inflated pig’s bladder.

The plated celery root braised with black truffle. Deceptively simple looking but for a vegetable course, had all the richness and savoriness of a meat dish. The black truffle jus didn’t hurt either.

A classic EMP dish: duck, honey and lavender glazed with turnip and huckleberry. Stunning and served with some some of the lightest potatoes I’ve ever had. They tried to prematurely clear the dish and I had to reach out my hand to stop the server so I could finish the last couple bites.

Our cheese course of the cutest little cheddar tart with apple and mixed greens. Honestly, at this point, I would’ve been happy to end on this note since I don’t usually really care for dessert but we had a surprise waiting of us.

Baked Alaska, set aflame at the table, with citrus, vanilla and rum

Towards the end of our meal, we were taken on a tour of the kitchen and served the last dessert course – an ice cream with a honey-colored dessert wine made from noble rot (botrytis) grapes. Felt so lucky to have a chance to see the workings of the kitchen (which was beautiful and spotless) and the giant Miles Davis photographs they have hanging on the walls for inspiration.

Fancy food with fancy friends

The wines we’d had that night – we’d opted to order bottles instead of the pairing, which was the right decision. A Keller riesling to start and then two different, fantastic bottles of Clos Rougeard. Our meal finally came to a close with chocolate covered pretzels and a guessing game of which chocolate was made from which milk (cow, goat, buffalo or sheep), which I failed miserably.

No matter – in the end, we all came out feeling like huge winners. Such a wonderful experience, top to bottom, from the warm and friendly staff to the perfect pacing and explanation of each course to the food itself, which was beautiful, whimsical and most importantly, downright delicious. A huge thank you to the Eleven Madison Park for exceeding all expectations once again…I cannot wait to visit again.

The beautiful dining room at the end of the night.

Advertisements

Back to the NoMad

July 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

Visited the NoMad for the second time back in late May and had an even better experience than the first! Started with the fruits de mer “le grand plateau”, a beautiful selection of prepared raw seafood and the chicken liver mousse with pickles and rye bread, which was a favorite from the previous time. At this point in our meal, we got to meet Becky Quan (!), one of the NoMad pastry chefs who I’d spoken with online after my first post on the NoMad and who brought out their highly addictive potato-onion-caraway bread and butter. Such a small world! And the in-person introduction made the rest of our meal even more fun and memorable.

We then progressed to the mackerel cured with buttermilk, peas and nasturtium, which looked absolutely stunning on the plate and tasted so bright and clean. I hadn’t really eaten much mackerel before but since this meal, I’ve actually ordered it more often when on the menu because this dish left such a great impression (and only a few other versions have been as good). We also ordered the foie gras with rhubarb, celery and pistachio, which had everything you could possibly want in a foie dish. There was creamy and smooth against crunch, sweet and tart against fatty and herbaceous. So predictable of me but I really enjoyed this dish (and I dare anyone else not to). Our sommelier of the night also gave us a great wine recommendation – a Sicilian red with dry ripe fruit notes and hints of spice and tobacco – that paired well with all our courses and never overwhelmed.

For our main dish, we ordered the roast chicken for two (duh). Just as great as the first time – the combination of black truffles and (more) foie is so heady and I can never understand how they manage to keep the breast meat so juicy. And that “stuffing” of dark meat was just as outrageous and rich as I remembered.

For our dessert, we ordered the milk and honey with shortbread, brittle and ice cream and were also surprised with a complimentary strawberry cheese cake dessert courtesy of Becky Quan, Pastry Chef. While I loved both, I preferred the classic and simpler milk and honey, which had nice savory elements as well, which worked out perfectly because Ameya had basically finished the strawberry cheesecake by the time I looked up again from my plate. Can’t say enough how much we enjoyed our dinner here (thanks not only to Becky but also to James, our wonderful server who answered all of our questions and even shared the name of the artist who crafted all of the NoMad’s beautiful ceramics that I’d been obsessing over throughout the course of our meal). I’m already dreaming of the next time!

Also, even if you’re not able to stop by for a meal, I would highly recommend the NoMad bars (I like the Elephant Bar that’s connected to the restaurant itself but there’s also a separate, larger bar with its own entrance on 28th street that serves slightly more casual food). Well-crafted cocktails and though I don’t drink too much brown liquor, I’ve heard from various sources that they serve the best Manhattans in the city. 🙂

Dinner at The NoMad

March 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

The popular and well regarded NoMad hotel and restaurant are owned by the same group that operates Eleven Madison Park, so when a group of us went for dinner at the end of January, we knew we were in for a treat. Upon entering, we could see that the dining area was broken up into different sections with different decor in each – the atrium, the parlour, etc. – and we were seated in the parlour, which was sumptuously decorated with velvet chairs, ornate furniture and lots of red. We stuck with cocktails and beer for our meal, and because I was craving something super citrus-y and refreshing, I actually started with a non-alcoholic basil-fennel lime soda and asked for a healthy splash of Hendrick’s gin to be added.

Our small bites to start were the butter dipped radishes with fleur de sel, a very rich chicken liver mousse and the scotch olives with lamb’s sausage with sheep’s milk cheese. Everything gave a really great first impression of the kitchen, including the super French-inspired simple and kinda cute looking radishes, and my favorites were the scotch olives (which is saying something because normally, I don’t even like olives), which were expertly fried and just the right amount of gaminess from the lamb’s sausage. There was also some killer, toasted on the outside but cloud-soft on the inside pita-esque bread that they kept replenishing throughout our meal, seasoned with caraway and other spices that I couldn’t identify that we could just not get enough of.

As mentioned earlier, after cocktails, we decided to order 2 growlers of beer instead of wine for our starters and entrees, mainly because our main course, the famous roast chicken dish for two (times two because there were four of us), had been recommended with a specifically brewed Belgian-style brown ale by Brooklyn Brewery called Le Poulet. It definitely proved to be an interesting pairing, especially since the roast chicken came with foie gras and truffles, (typically very luxurious ingredients you’d think would go better with wine) yet the carbonation and savoriness of the beer was a great match with food so rich.

Moving on, for starters, we shared the slow poached egg with cauliflower, kale and almonds, which had a great combination of different textures (smooth and unctuous from the egg, light and crispy from the fried kale and crunchy from the almonds), the foie gras with shaved beef carpaccio and mushrooms (surprisingly probably one of the least memorable dishes of the evening) and the tortelloni with celery root and black truffles, which blew everyone’s minds with its perfectly cooked pasta and pure umami, truffly deliciousness. We definitely used that caraway bread to scoop up every last bite of that celery root sauce, which I still crave to this day.

Our main course, the roast chicken for two, was the biggest reason why I wanted to come to the NoMad. It’s been hyped up ever since chef Daniel Humm put it on the menu, and after trying it, I think it’s well worth all the praise and good reviews. They actually present the whole chicken, in all its golden and shiny splendor, to you before they take it back to the kitchen for carving. Out comes a plate with the perfectly cooked, not to dry breast, which has black truffles and foie gras (too much of a good thing can only be even better) stuffed underneath the beautifully burnished skin on top of a bed of brussels sprouts and lentils. The dark meat comes in a separate side dish with crispy, well seasoned chicken skin, more brussels sprouts, slightly sweet brioche bread and some insane cream sauce that makes it taste like a savory bread pudding on steroids. This was actually my favorite dish of the night and I would come back just for this.

After our small bites, starters and then the roast chicken (as well as the two growlers of beer), we could’ve called it quits but no…time for dessert! As someone who doesn’t usually care for sweets, I was intrigued by the milk and honey dessert, with shortbread, brittle and ice cream and it definitely did not disappoint. It’s a dish that’s kind of hard to describe and the techniques seemed slightly avant-garde, but the flavors were very familiar and very comforting. It was also very light, especially compared to the cobbler dessert we also ordered. By the end of the meal, a long walk home in the cold weather was definitely needed.

The restaurant at NoMad is a real gem. Compared with Eleven Madison Park, which is super refined and sophisticated, serving dishes that feel incredibly modern (but are still very delicious), NoMad is a place that executes the dishes you know and love at the highest level. At the same time, throughout our meal, service was super friendly, attentive and not stuffy in the slightest. We had a really lovely time in a beautiful setting and felt very lucky to indulge in all the food that we did. I hope it’s not too long before I get to go back and have some more of that tortelloni and roast chicken.

Eleven Madison Park

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

Finally, exactly six months later, I’ve managed to post about Eleven Madison Park. This was without a doubt the longest (by the time Cindy and I finished this most expensive date ever, it was 1:30am), most extravagant, most memorable meal of Summer 2012 and going through the photos felt like I was reliving it over and over again. Apparently, a lot of the menu has changed since we visited – Daniel Humm, the chef, and the kitchen have revamped the menu twice, I believe – but I can’t imagine that the attention to detail, the warm service (unlike my initial impression of extreme fine dining restaurants, EMP’s staff was very friendly, un-pretentious, and patient, given our very late conclusion to the meal), and the exquisite food has gotten anything but better. I’m too lazy to go into detail about every dish, so just believe me when I say that every single course actually felt necessary (if that’s the right word) towards the overall progression of the meal and distinct in its own right, whether it was the concentrated flavors of the tomato tea, the nostalgia of the clambake, or the sheer unique-ness of the whey with curds and gnocchi.

Beautiful arrangement in the dining room

Beginning with savory miniature black and white cookies

A bit of New York City to start

And a lemony, gin cocktail

Tomato tea with parmesan lavash and lemon thyme

Mackerel and Scallop – horseradish and mustard; chip with pickled daikon and sesame

Yogurt lollipops with curry

 

Chickpea panisse with yogurt

Trout roe marinated with dashi, cantaloupe, zucchini and watermelon snow

The clambake – one of my favorite courses of the evening

Clam with chorizo, corn and zucchini

Pouring the most velvety clam chowder ever

 

The extra bread course – with goat and cow butters

A gorgeous plate of couscous smoked with tomato, yogurt, and olives

Foie gras marinated with nepitella and blackberry

Our wine for the evening, recommended by the sommelier

Whey with fresh curds, caraway gnocchi, and spring herbs – very different yet still delicious

Lobster poached with zucchini, avocado, and amaranth

Lamb roasted with artichokes, freekah, and lovage – another favorite and eye-opening course of the evening

Chevre meridian with strawberries, pistachio, and garlic

Our server preparing an updated classic tableside

Egg cream – orange, cocoa nib, and seltzer

Cheesecake – goat cheese, chamomile, and raspberry

Chocolate sorbet with lavender, orange and Maldon sea salt – everything I love in a dessert

Cognac, of which we could enjoy as much as we wanted

Additional mini desserts

And the bookend the meal, sweet black and white cookies

An empty dining room, 1:30am

The bar

Entrance

Our menu – July 16, 2012

A gift to take home – literally the best granola I’ve ever had. I’ve already tried making this at home using Humm’s own recipe but it never comes out nearly as good.

There’s been a trend lately for high-end dining chefs to explore rustic, comfort food at a friendlier price point (chalk it up to the recession or whatever you want) but there’s still something to be said about taking the time (and money) to sit down and enjoy a long meal that lets you forget about everything else. It’ll be a while before I get to return to EMP (I’d love to try the duck course that everyone raves about), but I do think that, if you manage to get the hard-won reservation, it’s definitely well worth the splurge. Thank you to Daniel Humm, the EMP kitchen, and the amazing EMP staff for a truly unforgettable meal, and to Cindy for being crazy enough to go with me and spend so much on a single meal.

 

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010
212.889.0905

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with daniel humm at Notes on Food.