11 Mad Park
I saw some glowing reviews of Eleven Madison Park on Chowhound a few weeks back, so I thought that I would opine now that I had a chance to try it post new chef. While all the food was decent enough, I really was not impressed. I thought that the chef was trying a little too hard to seem creative, but just missed the mark, instead delivering capable but fairly ordinary high end restaurant food.
After looking at the menu, the first disappointment hit us immediately. The selections on the Gourmand Tasting Menu were less than impressive. Thus, I opted for the prix fixe menu instead; ordering the Trio Of Hawaiian Poisson Cru, followed by the Angus Tenderloin. There was nothing wrong with either of these dishes, but there was nothing extraordinary either. The quality of the fish was good, but certainly not the best that I have had. The quality of the meat was also very good, and the seasoning and sauce were nice enough, but again nothing that will stand out in my memory in two weeks from now.
The space was fine, but has an impersonal feel to it. It could be the high ceilings that does it, or it could be something with the decor - I can't quite put my finger on it. The lighting was pretty alright though.
In the future, I would only consider going back to this restaurant for a business dinner and only if I needed to be in the neighborhood and didnt make advanced reservations (11MP always seems to have tables available, even last minute on a Thursday at 7pm). I think Union Square Cafe and Grammercy Tavern are better choices - the food is better, the space is more comfortable and the service is just as good versus 11MP.
Am I missing something?
I definitely think you are missing something. The food at Eleven Madison Park has, in my opinion, been always better than Union Square Cafe...even when Kerry Heffernan was at the helm...but a full step ahead of what's going on at USC - not that USC isn't good.
But what struck me as odd in your review was that you were dissappointed with the menu before even having anything. It's fairly difficult to judge any food before trying it.
Gramercy Tavern is perhaps a better dining experience overall, I'll give you that, but I think Chef Humm is doing a very good job. The foie gras creme brulee alone is worth going there.
I agree with Dkstar1, that I have a very high opinion of 11 Madison Park - but I do understand your menu disappointment, as I sometimes confront menus that just have nothing to pique my interest (although not at 11MP, where I think the menus are quite broad). I also love the room, which has a wonderful spacious feel and still manages to be quiet, even with the high ceilings.
The only thing I'd mention is that I discovered they serve an a la carte menu in the so-called bar area, that is, the small tables up front and on the raised platform on the right. Less of a commitment.
This is only a opinion but thought I would chime in.
Honestly if your looking for the best any chef has to offer I would not recommend ordering a fillet.
I know opinions may differ but there is only so much you can do with it. Its not the most flavorful cut of beef, and restaurants put it on the menu as a safe choice, and a almost always guarantee sale. But in the end its just a fillet.
I agree with oysterspearls. Plus, judging from the Hawaiian Trios' description, I could tell it was just a straight forward sashimi dish. I believe it was the other dishes where the chef worked his culinary magic on, Particulary on the pork which i heard great things about but have yet tried.
I've recently become a big fan of Eleven Madison Park. My sister and I loved the tasting menu (we found everything very imaginative and delicious). The service couldn't have been nicer, and we love the high ceiling--not impersonal to us, but very dramatic. Based on the other postings, I would recommend trying it again.