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Chowhound Blasphemy: EMP - No Good!

foodieforthought Sep 10, 2007 09:57 PM

Yes, you read it right folks. Although service and atmosphere were excellent. I was incredibly underwhelmed by the food, which to my understanding, was the main draw of this restaurant.

My girlfriend and I did the Gourmand tasting menu, and sadly to say...11 courses, 3 hours, and $400 later, we left hungry and disappointed.

I was quite amazed they were able to spread so little food over this much time and plating. And by the third course, my girlfriend had told me if another course came encased in "gelee" or "custard" we would be asking for the check.

I am welcome to opposing views, but I feel very ripped off. Very.

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  1. LeahBaila RE: foodieforthought Sep 11, 2007 05:52 AM

    The atmosphere and service at EMP is excellent, but I wasn't wowed by my meal from start to finish. There were definately certain courses I loved, and certain that I was not impressed by. (I judge a restaurant on the meal from "start to finish." Basically, if the meal was great from appetizer to dessert, then I highly recommend/love it.)
    My overall experience at EMP was good. I've never had such delicately prepared food (the lobster "lasagna"); and the service was almost flawless.
    Would I go back more than once or twice a year? No; but I do think this type of experience is something to try.

    1. s
      sam1 RE: foodieforthought Sep 11, 2007 07:14 AM

      ive been sleeping on going since im not a fan of danny meyer restaurants...i find them boring and not progressive. while daniel humm has gotten tons of press from people i respect, the menu just doesnt appeal to me...and for the price of the tasting menu, i have no major desire to go.

      good review.

      1. k
        kobetobiko RE: foodieforthought Sep 11, 2007 07:50 AM

        Hi foodieforthought,

        While preference of taste is very personal and I can understand if you are not impressed by EMP's food, leaving hungry after the gourmand tasting menu? I was so stuffed to the end that I could barely finish my dessert! (No disrespect here, just want to tell my experience)

        Just out of curiosity, which restaurant impressed you in the past?

        2 Replies
        1. re: kobetobiko
          foodieforthought RE: kobetobiko Sep 11, 2007 08:23 AM

          Kobeto,

          I was so hungry after EMP...I had to venture over to Shake Shack and drop another 20 bucks (not willingly) on two burgers.

          I truly do not understand how one could have been full from the amount of food i was given, and over the timeframe allotted.

          Granted, Chef Humm's presentations were outstanding, but I felt so much time and effort went into the pretentiousness of plating that he overlooks the sheer practicality of food: it's supposed to feed you!

          And personally, the overmanipulation of textures and tastes does not impress me. "Tomato water" and "peekytoe crab jelee" are not things I really enjoy, nor do they sound remotely appetizing.

          I don't want to sound cheap because I understand how lucrative NYC restauranting is, but just the constant reminder that I received maybe $30 worth of food for $145/pp truly truly bothered me. I reiterate, the only word I can use for EMP is underwhelming.

          If you can ever get out to Long Island, check out Prime in Huntington. My favorite restaurant by far.

          1. re: foodieforthought
            janethepain RE: foodieforthought Sep 11, 2007 10:21 AM

            Funny, my boyfriend and I had the opposite experience. I'm a HUGE eater and I went in thinking that a three-course meal was not going to satisfy me. Let's just say we crawled out painfully full. Maybe it was all the bread we ate, but jeez, it was supernatural.

        2. Miss Needle RE: foodieforthought Sep 11, 2007 10:15 AM

          Personally I thought it was fabulous but DH was disappointed as you were. We both though that the quantity of food was fine, but he too was expecting more. While he thought the suckling pig was good, it wasn't magnificent like he read about. He said he would have preferred the suckling pig you get in Chinatown.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Miss Needle
            princeofpork RE: Miss Needle Sep 11, 2007 12:41 PM

            MissNeddle - This is the second post I have read of your where you refer to DH. What is that?

            1. re: princeofpork
              MMRuth RE: princeofpork Sep 11, 2007 12:41 PM

              usually means "dear husband" ... though Miss Needle may have another take on it.

              1. re: MMRuth
                Miss Needle RE: MMRuth Sep 11, 2007 01:09 PM

                Yes, indeed it means "dear husband" in my case. Thank goodness he loves food as much as I do! : ) He's my partner in crime in food.

            2. re: Miss Needle
              f
              fourunder RE: Miss Needle Sep 11, 2007 01:44 PM

              I recall a number of years ago, New York Magazine did a Holiday food story on The Best Roast Pig in the city. They cited many top restaurants including Continental, German, Spanish, Italian, Jamaican, Cuban and/or any other ethnic version that you could imagine. Ratings went from fair to good, nothing memorable or recommended only if you must.......in the end, in the last paragraph of the article, it simply stated although they did not review any Chinese establishments for the article, you could go down to Chinatown in any restaurant and get better Roast Pig or Roast Baby Suckling Pig at any time and any day, than any versions the reviewer sampled for the story.

            3. t
              trav RE: foodieforthought Sep 11, 2007 02:15 PM

              We had a family brunch there and were really disappointed with Humm's food. We even complained and they blew us off. I wouldn't return.

              1. p
                PeteM RE: foodieforthought Nov 27, 2007 08:14 AM

                Had a similar experience recently. Will report more on that soon. But I didn't have the tasting menu.

                4 Replies
                1. re: PeteM
                  p
                  peachtart RE: PeteM Nov 27, 2007 09:34 AM

                  EMP is best enjoyed at the bar with a plate of gougeres and the mini lamb burgers!

                  1. re: peachtart
                    p
                    PeteM RE: peachtart Nov 28, 2007 08:57 AM

                    =)
                    I will definitely keep this in mind. Sounds delicious.

                    Anyway, from my experience, the lobster "lasagna" was creative but not excellent, the duck was very dry and bland, and the pork was completely dry and tasteless. Compared to the standard that I expected given the high regard by chowhounds, this was very disappointing.

                    The service was also lacking. I had a different server every 15 minutes, which was okay, I guess, but not ideal. But they also keep dropping cutleries. One time he dropped a fork on my bread plate, making the loudest noise ever. I didn't find it embarassing or anything, but it was not very professional either.

                    The sommelier was nice, but the wine he recommended was not very good. I also thought that he tried too hard to sound like he knew what he was doing, and that took up a lot of time. that would have been okay if the wine was actually suitable, but his pairings were quite off, in my amateur opinion (but one that really matters to me, right?)

                    Anyway, I want to go back again to give it another chance, though.

                    1. re: PeteM
                      Mari RE: PeteM Nov 28, 2007 10:25 AM

                      I was also not impressed by the lobster lasagna, especially since it had a $20 supplement. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of my meal and thought that the service was excellent. I suppose the service might vary, but it really shouldn't at a restaurant of this calibre.

                      My husband was also a little disappointed with the suckling pig since it wasn't what he expected, but the taste was right on and I liked the creative presentation. The skin was crispy and the pork itself was some of the best I've had.

                      I was really impressed with the place and was actually ready to be disappointed given some of the mixed reviews I had read. Otherwise, everything else we ate there was fantastic (amuse, the butternut squash soup with prawns and quince and a riesling foam, my beef tenderloin entree and the desserts).

                      1. re: Mari
                        j
                        JohnnyBooy RE: Mari Nov 28, 2007 07:28 PM

                        I found the dessert solid, but overall disappointing given the reputation.

                2. z
                  zen123 RE: foodieforthought Nov 28, 2007 12:31 PM

                  I don't think EMP is horrible or even bad, but I have no idea what the big deal about it is. If I live around the area, I wouldn't mind going to the restaurant here and there. But I would never go out of my way for the rather ordinary food, however nicely presented.

                  As for the suckling pig, I strongly echo what fourunder said above: "you could go down to Chinatown in any restaurant and get better Roast Pig or Roast Baby Suckling Pig at any time and any day, than any versions the reviewer sampled for the story."

                  If you have honestly been to a good, authentic chinese restaurant to eat their suckling pig, you'd be as curious as I am as to why Daniel Humm is getting so much praise for his take, which is basically a smaller portion of the same thing that costs 10x more.

                  1. r
                    rrems RE: foodieforthought Nov 28, 2007 12:52 PM

                    I have had nothing but good experiences at EMP.

                    Is there another top-tier Manhattan restaurant where you have had a meal that you enjoyed? If so, how did it differ from EMP?

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: rrems
                      p
                      PeteM RE: rrems Nov 28, 2007 01:04 PM

                      As i mentioned above, the duck was very dry and bland, and the pork was completely dry and tasteless. Compared to the standard that I expected given the high regard by chowhounds, this was very disappointing.

                      The service was also lacking. I had a different server every 15 minutes, which was okay, I guess, but not ideal. But they also keep dropping cutleries. One time he dropped a fork on my bread plate, making the loudest noise ever. I didn't find it embarassing or anything, but it was not very professional either.

                      The sommelier was nice, but the wine he recommended was not very good. I also thought that he tried too hard to sound like he knew what he was doing, and that took up a lot of time. that would have been okay if the wine was actually suitable, but his pairings were quite off, in my amateur opinion (but one that really matters to me, right?)

                      I found the food at Per Se, Le Bernardin, Daniel, Jean Georges, and even Bouley much tastier than that of Eleven Madison Park. That's my experience.

                      I do not deny the legitimacy of your good experience at EMP. In the same way, I hope you will not dismiss my bad experience. If this board is to be a place of free and open sharing, then please allow people to share the good and the bad.

                      1. re: PeteM
                        r
                        rrems RE: PeteM Nov 28, 2007 01:19 PM

                        Thank you, but my question was directed to the OP. I'm sorry you were not pleased with your meal, but your criticism did not seem as harsh as his.

                        1. re: rrems
                          p
                          PeteM RE: rrems Nov 28, 2007 01:21 PM

                          Oh okay.

                          Sorry I interjected. =)

                          I do fully intend to go back to Eleven Madison Park. I would never dismiss a restaurant summarily without going at least 3-4 times.

                        2. re: PeteM
                          Mari RE: PeteM Nov 28, 2007 01:47 PM

                          But aren't those other restaurants you mentioned above at a much higher price point and calibre than Eleven Madison Park? When I investigated where I wanted to visit during my stay last week I compared Eleven Madison Park with Gramercy Tavern, Hearth, Annissa, Picholine, Ouest and not any of those you mentioned above.

                          1. re: Mari
                            p
                            PeteM RE: Mari Nov 28, 2007 01:53 PM

                            I respectfully disagree about the price point issue, except Per Se. Here are the numbers:

                            Eleven Madison Park: 82 / 145

                            Le Bernardin: 107 / 135
                            Bouley: 74 (I took the average cost of each course) / 90
                            Daniel: 98 / 165
                            Jean Georges: 98 / 148

                            So at most, the difference is $15-20, I don't consider that enough to separate them into different classes altogether.

                            But even if we stay close to the price, I would take Bouley's three course dinner (74) over Eleven Madison Park's three course (82), and Jean Georges' tasting menu (148) over EMP's tasting (145).

                          2. re: PeteM
                            t
                            tpigeon RE: PeteM Nov 28, 2007 01:52 PM

                            I had the exact opposite experience with the duck. It was amazing.

                            1. re: tpigeon
                              p
                              PeteM RE: tpigeon Nov 28, 2007 01:58 PM

                              I actually believe that the duck is promising. It's the suckling pig that puzzles me the most, since it tastes like the suckling pig I've eaten in Chinatown, except drier.

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