Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park has been on my list of restaurants to try for quite sometime now. I've never been quick enough to call 28 days in advance to book a table. My best friend Avani's older sister was visiting New York. Arti Tai ("Tai" means older sister in Marathi) loves food as much as I do, so we planned a meal well in advance. I'm talking like, June...Arti Tai emailed and asked if I had any preference on where to eat - Baltahazar or EMP? Of course I agreed to EMP. Arti Tai got on the phone 28 days in advance of our desired date (November 22nd!) and was on hold for 45 minutes before she finally got through. But, success! She scored us a table for four at 9:45pm on a Friday. Well done!
In an even better turn of events, I found out I had been promoted a few days before our dinner, so this turned into a celebratory meal!

We arrived at our table early, and there was a note on the table. Avani had sent our table a congratulatory bottle of champagne! I am a very lucky girl! My family sent me some gorgeous flowers and my best friend sent me a bottle of my favorite beverage!


Spoiler alert: You don't get menus when you start your meal, and my post is going to walk through all the items we had that day. We had the 15 course dinner tasting menu, I don't think there are other options for dinner. 

After the buzz of the champagne wore down, our waiter stopped by our table and asked if anyone had allergies or dietary restrictions. No, no no no. We eat everything! Bring us everything!

There is also an option to do a wine pairing with your meal. Arti Tai and I chose that option, while Reena and Samir went with a bottle of wine. With the wine pairing, we were offered a mix of cocktails, wine, and beer, but we opted to stick with just wine. My favorite!

Our first course was named "Cheddar", a savory black and white cookie with apple. I was at Betony the day before (Betony was opened up by ex-EMP chefs), and one of the desserts was an apple dish with cheddar, it was kind of cool to see the influence from EMP to Betony! My colleague told me that in the olden days, apple pie was topped with cheddar. I'm certain Cooper would love this kind of pie!

This was the perfect kick off to our dining experience. I couldn't wait to taste all the flavors and textures that our meal had in store!

Our second course was named Oyster. It featured an oyster, of course, with concord grapes, bulgur wheat, and sorrel. With our oyster, we were served a Bereche & Fils, Brut Reserve, Ludes, Champagne, France. I really enjoyed this - I would definitely try to track down a bottle here in NYC!

Our third course was Shrimp marinated with sea urchin, foie gras, and chevril. I think this was the least memorable of all my courses.

{Thanks Reena for the photo!}

{Thanks Reena for the photo!}

Our fourth course had some dramatic flair, which, you know I love. We were presented with a grill with some sturgeon on top, creating a nice smokey flavor for the fish. We were also served a quail egg and smoked with everything bagel crumble - there were tiny pieces of what you'd probably find at the bottom of your bagel bag if you ordered an everything bagel at Essa. I liked this homage to NYC!


Here is a full shot of the fourth course spread...

{Thanks Reena for the photo!}

Oh my god, I love butter. Especially the fancy restaurant kind.

Our fifth course was Foie Gras. I love foie gras so I don't think you can ever go wrong with that! The wine was probably one of the most remarkable ones I can remember tasting. We were served the Kiralyudvar, Cuvee Ilona, Tokaji, Hungary 2007. This is another bottle I would try to track down in NYC.

{Thanks Reena for the photo!}

Then came Carrot. This is very interesting. Our waiter ran some fancy carrots grown in some fancy soil upstate through a meat grinder to prepare a carrot tartare. This was served with multiple types of condiments.

Here are all our condiments. I can't remember what they all were, but I licked my plate clean. Well, as much as you can lick your plate clean in public at a Michelin starred restaurant.

Our waiter brought over a humongous squash. The squash is baked,, and covered with dough, as you can see below. This was the one vegetarian course we had and, as a carnivore, I was very impressed! Our waiter then took the squash away to prepare said vegetarian course.

Oh, now onto this course. This was my favorite course in the world. I may still be dreaming about this lobster. This lobster was fresh and just perfection. It was served with brussels sprouts and guanciale. I also loooooved the wine pairing with this, Domaine Deux Montille, Sur Gamay, Premier Cru, St. Aubin, Burgundy, France 2010 (I know nothing about wine pairings, this is just how it is written on the menu I was given after the meal!). Can I order this dish a la carte on seamless?

And, now our vegetarian course was brought out. It was the squash from above served with cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and of course the sour dough.

{Thanks Reena for the photo!}

At the beginning of our meal, we were asked to pick a "main course" - venison or duck. We went with duck. Well, just look at this perfection. Served with foie gras and potato.

Here are Arti Tai and I giggling about something...maybe a photo I took of her while she was eating said duck.

{Thanks Reena for the photo!}

Our plates were cleared and out came a picnic basket. Oooh, what FUN! I have to say, I like the "theatrics" here. This course, "Greensward", consisted of pretzels, mustard, and grapes, and was served with a beer Ithaca Beer Company, Picnic Basket Ale, Ithaca, New York. 

{Thanks Reena for the photo!}

{Thanks Reena for the photo!}

I don't know where this cheese came from!

And, now for the first of four dessert courses. Yes, four dessert courses. One of our waiters prepared an egg cream malt with vanilla and seltzer. Fact of the day: egg cream doesn't really have egg in it.


Our second dessert course was named Apple. I enjoyed this because it was very light - that duck was starting to make me full!

Then came time for a fun game. I've basically ruined any element of surprise if you choose to go to EMP, so, I will spare you this time and not tell you what happened other than it was pretty cool!


We were given chocolate covered pretzels and white and black cookies as a parting gift. Also, this bottle of apple brandy. 


Thank you, Arti Tai, Reena, and Samir, for the great company during this meal! I will definitely be returning to Eleven Madison Park. I thought it was better than Per Se. I liked the presentation and ambiance more than Daniel and maybe more than Le Bernadin, but I couldn't tell you which one to pick if you could only do one. I will certainly add this to my list of restaurants to go with my family.

Now, instead of doing a juice cleanse after this meal, I prepared for my trip to Paris (I know, boo hoo). More wine, more cheese! 

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