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Dinner at Eleven Madison Park last night

LeahBaila Jul 27, 2007 08:01 AM

After much anticipation, I finally had dinner at EMP last night with a girlfriend. Our reservations were for 7 p.m., but we arrived early and waited in a seating area to the left of the hostess stand. Within 10 minutes, we were seated. The restaurant is beautiful; high ceilings, fresh flowers and large windows really accent the beautiful Art Deco space. We opted for the 3-course tasting menu. Our food was very unique, flavorful, perfectly portioned and beautifully presented. Service was impeccible for the first half of our meal, then dwindled a bit during the second half. I was very impressed with the kitchen's attention to detail and how knowledgeable the staff was.
I ordered: scallop ceviche, lobster "lasagna" and the peach souffle. My friend ordered: gnocchi, Sucking pig and the most amazing chocolate dessert that I've ever tasted...with caramel and sea salt (what an amzing flavor combination!).
Overall, we were impressed with our experience at EMP. This is the perfect restaurant to celebrate an anniversary, special occasion or just to impress yourself, clients, parents, etc.

  1. j
    jdream Jul 27, 2007 08:21 PM

    I also went to EMP last night for the first time to celebrate my birthday. There were four of us and as a result got to taste a number of dishes. We also did the three course tasting. On top of the amuses that are described above there was also a Strawberry Gazpacho with poached prawn and crisped guanciale. For appetizers we had the lobster/scallop ceviche (my least favorite; really good but the watermelon flavor was overpowering to me), the gnocchi with prawns in a Meyer Lemon sauce and the beets with chevre-- the latter two were fantastic. For entrees we had at the table the suckling pig, the steak and the duck. Truthfully, the pig was my favorite, but only by a small margin, they were all incredible. The desserts fell slightly short to me, but then again I'm not much of a sweets person and it would be hard to follow that meal. Also, the cheese cart looked fantastic but didn't get a chance to try this time. We had two TERRIFIC wines-- a Paso Robles Zinfandel and a Cab Franc from Napa Valley. On the way out they gave us a fantastic (birthday breakfast this morning!) sour cherry with candied orange brioche. I could not endorse this place more highly!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: jdream
      r
      RGR Jul 27, 2007 08:36 PM

      Happy Birthday, jdream! Glad you also had a terrific meal at EMP. If you have any brioche left over, it makes awesome French toast. :-)

    2. k
      kobetobiko Jul 27, 2007 09:33 AM

      Hi LeahBaila,

      thanks for the great review. While I had a slightly disappointing lunch at EMP recently, it is still one of my favorite restaurants in town, and it is good to know that their dinners still remain in high quality.

      When you go next time, I will strongly recommend the duck for two as entree. In my multiple visits to EMP for dinners, I have tried pretty much everything on the menu, and the duck is the dish that always keeps me returning to EMP. Since they will show you the whole duck at your table prior to carving and serving the meat to you, it always impresses the tables around =) There was one time that the person next to me was so intrigued that I gave them some of my duck to try!

      4 Replies
      1. re: kobetobiko
        LeahBaila Jul 27, 2007 09:43 AM

        Funny you mention the duck, we ALMOST ordered it! Next time, for sure :)
        I love how you gave the neighboring table some duck to try!

        1. re: LeahBaila
          r
          RGR Jul 27, 2007 11:35 AM

          About that duck. We just had it again a couple of weeks ago, and there have been some changes in how it is served after being presented. Previously, it was served in two stages: first the breast and then, after plates were cleared, the little "cake" of confit arrived. Now, the two are served at the same time with the confit as a "side" dish on a separate plate. Also, the slices of duck breast are the stars here. Therefore, Chef Humm serves them with very little in the way of adornment -- just some cherries and a bit of sauce. In a word: Superb!

          1. re: RGR
            k
            kobetobiko Jul 27, 2007 12:00 PM

            Hi RGR,

            I have always had my duck breast meat and the duck confit "cake" (on a separate plate) served at the same time! I was surprised to hear that it was served in two parts. However, they do change the "purees" accompanied or plating of the breast meat quite regularly. I used to have the breast meat sitting on top of some carrot puree and some vegetables. Last time I had it (about a month ago) the breast meat was sliced with onion slices in between, and a dash of puree (sauce) on the side.

            1. re: kobetobiko
              r
              RGR Jul 27, 2007 12:07 PM

              Yes, Chef Humm initially served the breast and the confit as two separate courses. We had it that way last fall. Obviously, he plays around with the breast presentation. But, as I said, it remains the star.

      2. a
        ajgnet Jul 27, 2007 09:24 AM

        What did you think of the amuses? I remember them being really tasty. The suckling pig is really incredible ... crispy skin with absolutely lean but tender meat. That was the highlight for me. I loved the space also ... spacious and cavernous but strangely intimate at the same time.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ajgnet
          LeahBaila Jul 27, 2007 09:27 AM

          The amuses were great; the most interesting, IMO, was the "grilled cheese" with a truffle-essence after taste. Very unique. We also loved the tuna encased with baby squash (the size of a pearl!).

        2. r
          RGR Jul 27, 2007 08:45 AM

          As you probably know from my posts, EMP is currently my favorite NYC restaurant. So, of course, I'm so glad your first experience was splendid.

          There had been some opinions/complaints that the desserts were not measuring up to the high caliber of the rest of the menu (though I never had a problem). The current desserts are new. I think the peach souffle is delicious. And the presentation with the accompanying sorbet sitting atop a small, sculptured block of ice is inventive and eye-catching. Next time, I will definitely order the chocolate dessert. Chocolate and caramel -- always a winning combination! :-)

          4 Replies
          1. re: RGR
            LeahBaila Jul 27, 2007 08:59 AM

            Thank you, RGR. Your positive comments about EMP played a large part in my decision to go there!
            Make sure to try the chocolate tart the next time you go (it was the first dessert at the top of the menu). And yes, the peach souffle presentation was incredible and extremely inventive. :)

            1. re: RGR
              z
              zook Jul 27, 2007 09:15 AM

              just a note to RGR...we come up from FL for a few weekends each year, and I, too, followed your rex re: EMP last trip and we enjoyed it immensely. Looking for something new for our next trip up Labor Day weekend, and from reading your posts and others, will be trying Veritas at least one night and for the other two are still mulling over other previous posts. Keep up the thoughtful posts!

              1. re: zook
                r
                RGR Jul 27, 2007 11:25 AM

                That's so nice to hear, zook! :-)

                I'm sure you will like Veritas though it is *very* different from Eleven Madison in terms of cuisine and ambiance. Be sure to request a table in the dining room proper. (You do not want to sit at a table in the bar area.)

                For one of your other two nights, consider going to Tocqueville. While we have been there a number times in the past, a few weeks ago, we finally got around to having dinner in their new location -- a study in understated elegance. Chef/owner Marco Moreira is on his game, and the cuisine we had was fabulous!

                http://www.tocquevillerestaurant.com

                Another restaurant I highly recommend is Urena, which is, in my view, severely underrated. Chef/owner Alex Urena is very talented, and his Spanish-inspired cuisine is creative and delicious. The lighting that initially received so much criticism for being too bright was adjusted long ago and now casts a very warm glow over what I find to be a very comfortable dining room.

                http://www.urena-nyc.com

                I hope your next trip will be an enjoyable one. Bon Appetit!

                1. re: RGR
                  z
                  zook Jul 27, 2007 05:31 PM

                  Thanks for the two rex. I already had Tocqueville on my list of possibilities; but Urena sounds like a great possibility. The choices boggle the mind. I'm thankful that we get to visit every so often to try new places; however, being there for so few nights each year makes it difficult to choose and even harder to pass up a return visit to those that impress. Keep up your active involvement on this board. It sure has helped us out in the past.

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