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Eleven Madison Park or Tocqueville?

Wondering if EMP is okay, or am I missing out and should go to Tocqueville? In the mood for adventurous cuisine, so whichever's more creative will probably win.

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  1. I go regularly to Tocqueville and think the cuisine is wonderful and the owners and staff are really good people.
    I haven't been to EMP for many years so I cannot comment.
    I would choose Tocqueville.

    1. Having been to both, hands down, Eleven Madison Park.

      2 Replies
      1. re: eve

        I second that. Have been to both too and just love EMP. Better food, space and much better service at EMP.

      2. Eleven Madison Park was just awarded three stars by the New York Times.

        http://events.nytimes.com/2007/01/10/...

        The link hasnt appeared on their website yet but will within a few hours.

        1. I just ate last weekend at both restaurants. EMP was outstanding in all respects - food, service, decor. Tocqueville was a major disappointment. The food was OK, but the service was definitely lacking. My dining companion's entree (60-second steak) was served cold. They took it back and heated it in the microwave (no kidding!). They didn't even have the sense enough to replace the partially eaten carrot. They finally replaced the entree with a new one but it certainly wasn't great. No comps were offered with the bill.

          EMP is on an entirely much higher level than Tocqueville. After last weekend, Tocqueville seems to have dropped quite a bit since my last meal there.

          1. I will not go into detail again (but search for one of my recent reviews) but I have been to EMP numerous times lately and, if you are looking for one of the best meals in the city, go there now.

            1. I just got home from EMP, had the 11 course tasting menu paired with the wine tasting and it was a really nice experience. As for the atmosphere, it was not at all what I was expecting. It was spacious with high ceilings yet the place seemed a little uptight for me (it was dead silent for the entire 4 hours it took us to eat) but the service was outstanding and the food was creative and enjoyable. Though the portions are tastes and overall pretty small, with 11 courses, I am absolutely stuffed and each course complimented each other and the wines really nicely. I didn't love everything that I was served, but the skill level and creativity was high. The desert course and cheese course were my favorites, which doesn't really seem worth the $145 per person price tag but was enjoyable enough to get me to likely return. Tocquevile is more intimate and also good but the food and service was at a much higher level at EMP especially as far as a tasting menu goes. They also went out of their way at EMP to accomodate my distaste for veal and replaced it with a delicious fish course. The server also took one entire wine tasting ($90) off the bill since they accidentally skipped one with one of our courses (though we didn't even notice). It is certainly not the best meal I have ever had, but overall a nice meal and worth trying.

              1 Reply
              1. re: taraxstar

                Another vote for EMP....creative and top cuisine in NY....at a very different level from Toqueville....which is 'nice' but doesn't soar like EMP.

              2. EMP. No question about it. However Gramercy Tavern is making a whole new level of elevated cuisine now that Micheal Anthony from Blue Hill is the chef, so I would say the restaurants are comparable.

                1. Tocqueville is a better vibe, unless your 70 yrs. old. Food is comparable, but Tocqueville can tend to add too many ingredients to a dish. All in all i'd sooner go to Tocqueville, unless i want to read a book during dinner , its nice and quiet in EMP

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    Where did you get the ridiculous idea that EMP is only for 70-year-olds?

                    The fact is, EMP's clientele is one of the most age-diverse in the city. Furthermore, it has what I would call a Goldilocks vibe -- not too quiet, nor too loud, but just right! And, frankly, I wouldn't exactly call the vibe at Tocqueville hoppin'! I'd describe it as quiet and civilized.

                    As for the cuisine, there's absolutely no comparison. While Tocqueville's food is very good, Chef Daniel Humm's sensational French-inspired cuisine is on a whole other culinary level.

                    1. re: RGR

                      I'll second RGR on EMP. I have not eaten at Tocqueville.

                      1. re: RGR

                        Maybe I caught the Early Bird Special at EMP ,,,but everyone there was either a senior citizen, or so damn stuffy and buttoned up ,,you could hear a pin drop in that place. The food was good, and the waiters very accommodating but Tocqueville I thought was not "hoppin" but more lively than EMP. If i want loud and lively i'll go to Buddakan even thought the food isnt special the noise level is a 10 there.

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          What "Early Bird Special"?

                          We have been there countless times, and there is absolutely nothing stuffy or "buttoned up" about EMP. The staff is one of the most cordial and engaging you will find anywhere.

                          With regard to the noise level, since the space is huge, when not many tables are occupied, it is quiet. However, when it is full, there is a nice buzz that, happily, never gets uncomfortably loud.

                          But even if it were dead quiet, I would take that any day over the hideously high noise levels one encounters at too many restaurants these days.

                          1. re: RGR

                            I agree with RGR. EMP's clientele is very age-diverse. Every time we have dined there (and that is a lot of times), there has been a lot of young people there. I am talking about couples or groups clearly in their twenties, some of them in surprisingly (disappointingly) casual clothes.
                            I actually think that people should dress up when dining in better restaurants. Why does everything have to be casual? It is boring. So if "buttoned up" means men in suits and ties, we are some of those "buttoned up" ones that you dislike so much. Hubby in suit and tie, and me in something matching. Oh, no.. :-DD
                            And the funny thing is, that once when our group, consisting of one 35-year old, one 40-year old, one 50-year old and one 60-year old ( a very youthful one), dined there, we were the "rowdiest" ones (just laughing and joking a lot, because the excellent food and everything else there made us so happy and giddy) - and actually a group of younger folks gave us a few disapproving glances, so we tuned it down.

                            So, yes, there are buttoned up people there, too, but so what. If it bothers you, do not look at them. And if you want a restaurant where there are ONLY younger people, only in casual attire, maybe EMP is not for you.

                            We love EMP.

                          2. re: foodwhisperer

                            I am so surprised to hear that your experience there was (did you go there just one time?) only with senior citizen or buttoned up people. Most of the time when I visited I saw people ranging from family for dinner night out, friends of all ages for catch up dinners, to stylish people who dressed up for special occasions. Personally I go to EMP quite a bit (hit there two times last month) and I haven't hit the big 3-0 yet. A lot of friends who are at my age range also frequent EMP. Did you get that image of senior citizens dining at EMP from the episode of Sex and the City? (LOL)

                            Anyway, I don't think it is fair to compare Buddakan and EMP the former is catered for people who really want scenery place with casual food while the latter are much more for those who want a sit-down all out culinary experience. You can go to Buddakan for either just a drink and a few appetizers to enjoy the scene, but when you are at EMP, it is all (well almost all) about the food!

                            1. re: kobetobiko

                              I only went to EMP once, about a year ago. We went early on a weekend around 6 PM, the food was good . I just was uncomfortable in such a huge open space and not a sound ,, the peoplel were so so so quiet ,,i feltl like i better not cling my fork on the plate.. Anyway, there isnt a comparison of food to Buddakan,,EMP is a different level ,,, but as far as noise levels and "hoppin" as someone put it,, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum,,, My bill at EMP came to over $200 per person, and for my money, I think Jean - Georges would be a more rewarding place to spend my money, for great food.

                          3. re: RGR

                            I agree. I often meet friends for drinks at the bar and order food from the bar menu. Mini lamb burgers with a side of gougeres! Love it...and we are far from 70.

                            1. re: peachtart

                              I will try EMP again,,,,every place needs more than a one time visit

                              1. re: foodwhisperer

                                EMP is in the Credit Suisse building and gets many people from there as customers. This does not explain the age thing but may explain the buttoned up thing. If a bunch of them decide to eat at EMP it can quickly look more formal than normal.

                                1. re: tpigeon

                                  Someone we know who works at Credit Suisse says that employees there call EMP their "cafeteria." lol

                          1. re: NYChristopher

                            EMP is one of my first choices anytime I want a higher end meal in nyc. I've been there many times and have always had great food paired with great service. Unfortunately I can't say the same for many other places, even those on par with EMP money-wise.

                            1. re: seal

                              Recently spent a weekend in NYC from Philly and had the best meal of my life at EMP (see my review). It beat Bouley hands-down. Never been to Toqueville but I can't imagine it being in the same league as EMP. The experience was sheer perfection, from setting, to service, to wine to food. It was not cheap ($342 total with tip and tax for 3 courses with wine pairings) but it was worth every penny in my book!

                              1. re: Schpsychman

                                Schpsychman,

                                I have read your detailed review of EMP. Great job! Since EMP is our favorite NYC restaurant, I'm always thrilled when I find that someone else shares our enthusiasm.

                                Your assumption about Tocqueville is correct. That's not to say that it isn't one of NYC's finer restaurants. It certainly is, and Chef/owner Marco Moreira's French/New American cuisine is excellent. However, the fact is, Chef Daniel Humm's sensationally exquisite cuisine at EMP is on a whole other planetary level! Each time we dine there, we come away stupified at how spectacular our meal has been. In every way -- cuisine, wine, service, and ambiance -- EMP is perfection!

                                1. re: RGR

                                  Thanks RGR, I always enjoy reading your reviews. EMP is now our favorite NYC restaurant, easily. It is an experience all it's own! Next year we plan to return for Valentine's weekend again and will visit EMP again, hopefully along with The Modern. There truly is no place like NYC, though I do love my hometown of Philadelphia.