Reviewed by Justine Murphy, CEO of mymuybueno – March 2017
In an Art Deco building just off Madison Square Park, best friends Daniel Humm and Will Guidara work together to create a menu that draws inspiration from local culture, history and ingredients. Just after my visit the restaurant was ranked in first place in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2017. Eleven Madison Park went from one star in the 2010 guide to three Michelin stars in the 2012 guide and this is an exceptional achievement, even in the US context. Chef Dmitri Magi was running lunch service on my visit. Walking inside Eleven Madison Park is just incredible. It is a magnificent, breathtaking room full of light and tulips and has an amazing Art Deco feel.
Black and White – Savoury Cookie with Apple and Cheddar. This was served on my table inside a little white box and I had to unravel the thread to see its contents. This was very nice and had a lovely centre.
Shortly afterwards, a wooden box modelled on the same pendant lanterns hanging from the ceiling appeared. Inside the four wooden stacks lay a treasure of four different Amuse Bouches.
Celery Root with Black Truffle. This was braised celery root with black truffle and a celery root purée. It was absolutely delicious and very pleasing on the eye.
Rutabaga with Celery and Walnuts. This featured different variations of rutabaga (otherwise known as swede) both candied and pureed. It was served with apple and celery relish and shaved horseradish and walnuts.
Parsnip Pie. This was presented on hot coals and was a light and perfect parsnip pie with grated dehydrated celery root. This reminded me of a dish from Geranium
At this stage, I was offered the selection of options for the eight-course tasting menu – a choice of duck, oxtail, mushroom, lobster, kohlrabi, scallop, butternut and bone marrow, foie, and sweet potato. I wanted them all, however, but I settled on scallop, duck and butternut.
A beautiful, wholewheat, croissant-like bread came next, which was made in-house, steamed and glazed, rich and light. It was served with a cultured butter topped with cow’s milk cheese.
At this stage in my dining experience I was two pairings of wine in. I had pre-selected their tasting menu with wine pairing in advance and I always choose this option for both two and three Michelin star visits to enhance the experience and my palate. I trust the chef and sommelier to compliment each other in their selections of both ingredients and wine. However I felt disheartened by this point because, during both pourings of wine, the sommelier did not explain anything at all about each pairing. I love hearing about why that particular wine had been matched with this particular dish and about all the different notes which compliment the different ingredients, therefore elevating the dish and experience. My visit to The Greenhouse had captured this perfectly. I did give the sommelier the opportunity to share something about the wine, other than just simply to pour it, but he only shared some information about the history of the vineyard and not the wine itself. For a three Michelin star restaurant and voted World’s Best Restaurant shortly afterwards, I definitely expected the minimum from a sommelier here. This detracted somewhat from my experience.
Butternut Squash – Roasted with Bone Marrow and Pumpkin Seeds. Wow. This was super-pleasing to the eye. The base was a butternut squash mash with discs of confit butternut squash stacked on top, the centre was a bone marrow purée and the edges were adorned with pumpkin seeds and fried thyme. This was just breathtakingly good.
Baked Alaska with Apple Cider and Vanilla. Baked Alaska was created by the United States to celebrate the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire for 7.2 million dollars in 1867. At one point many thought it was a waste of money, but the subsequent discovery of gold and oil made it a very good investment after all.
The dessert wine was poured by someone else who instantly and automatically launched into an explanation about the wine, which is what I would expect. This just drove home for me how much was missing from the sommelier equation throughout.
Chocolate ‘Name That Milk’ – Pretzel with Sea Salt. This was quite literally a game of tasting the chocolates and matching each one up to the right animal on the card (goat, cow, buffalo, sheep) and guessing which milk had been used in each bar. The cow and goat were easy but I muddled the final two. This was a nice bit of fun to finish. It was followed by a chocolate pretzel and a digestif of apple brandy, made just for the restaurant from New York apples. This was 40% alcohol and took my breath away. Much of the flatware here was similar to that of Atera, handmade in clay by Jono Pandolfo, and once again, it worked so very well as a canvas to this sort of food and dining experience. A lovely glass container with their own homemade Granola was gifted to me at the end too, which was a lovely touch, and I said I’d compare it to our own four time award-winning one.
- Bruno Dangin, Cremant de Bourgogne, France
- Domaine de la Pepiere, Les Gras Moutons, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Loire Valley, France 2015
- Pichler Krutzler, Klostersatz, Wachau, Austria 2015
- Bovio Langhe, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Italy 2014
- La Croix de Carbonnieux, Pessac- Leognan, Bordeaux, France 2012
- Aaron Burr Cidery, Appinette, Wurtsboro, New York
- Alois Kracher, Cuvee Auslese, Burgenland, Austria 2013
Favourite dish: Duck – Honey and Lavender Glazed with Plum and Onion.
Napkin Fold: Yes
Menu to take home: Yes
Meal for two, including with drinks and service: £470.
Final Thought: What an exceptional experience. This was a magnificent meal from start to finish. Beautiful, well thought out dishes with stunning ingredients and flawless service with excellent product knowledge and understanding. As mentioned before, the one rather large let down was the lack of information given about each wine. Anyone can pour wine and for a restaurant of such prestige, the ball was quite spectacularly dropped here. It didn’t take away from the amazing food or service but it was very much noted and missed. The wine tonging helped to restore balance. I don’t summarise my reviews with marks out of ten, but if I did I would award Eleven Madison Park an eight because of this element of my experience. Shortly after my visit it received its accolade and is also closing its doors this summer for a major renovation. I was delighted to hear this, and was glad that I had experienced it at this time.
Eleven Madison Park
Address: 11 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010
Telephone: +1 212 889 0905
Hours: Friday – Sunday Lunch: 12pm – 1pm Dinner Monday – Wednesday: 5.30pm – 10pm Thursday – Sunday 5.30pm – 10.30pm