Brief Review - Eleven Madison Park for RW
As some of you might know, I've went to EMP for RW lunch for the sake of curiosity if they have improved upon last year's underwhelming (in terms of food) experience.
My friend had the heirloom tomatoes with big eye tuna and olio verde as an appetizer. This made her a convert from being a sushi/sashimi/tartare hater. The tiny, silky chewy cubes of big eye tuna worked well with the sweet cylinders of heirloom tomatoes. It was surprising to taste a hint of floral flavor from the sprinkling of lavender flowers on top. My app was the sweetbread ravioli with corn, lime and chorizo. Creamy sweetbread stuffed in a large, eggy ravioli pasta covered in a lot of lime foam. The lime is really just an ethereal taste since it's not really predominant. The corn was underneath the ravioli and it added a sweet crunch to the dish.
On to the entrees, my friend ordered the summer squash ratatouille. Halved rond de nice zucchini stuffed with sweet heirloom tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers, topped with shavings of Parmesan. Quite heavy than what I prefer, but then again, I haven't eaten enough ratatouille to tell you it's cooked spot-on. It tasted good but heartier than I've expected. I had the Colorado lamb sausage with with eggplant, tomato confit, and roasted garlic. It's not what I would think of as a summer dish but it's good.
Finally, dessert were glazed peaches with rosemary honey and mascarpone ice cream and sheep’s milk cheesecake with summer berries and lemon verbena. I enjoyed the glazed peaches since it's touching upon the savory meets sweet because of the herbal zing of the rosemary and the sweetness of the peach (with a pit inside). The cheesecake was pretty but it didn't amuse me that much.
In all, EMP has improved significantly compared to last summer. I just wished they have more choices on the menu like Gramercy Tavern. And I'm still dreaming of GT's snap peas...
For photos and a fuller review, please follow the link:
I really think that EMP suffers from offering RW. I felt that their dishes during RW lunches, while better than a lot of other RW restaurants, did not reflect even 50% of what the chef and the restaurant was capable of delivering. Their dinner prix-fixe or gourmand tasting menu provides substantially superior food, presentation, creativity, and overall experience. it will be a shame if people dine at EMP for the first time during RW and think that that's what this restaurant is about.
Gramercy Tavern, on the other hand, delivers RW much closer to what you will get from the restaurant on a regular day.
I don't think EMP is really doing what they're fully capable of. I've tried their Gourmand last year a few months prior to the RW lunch (which really made me underwhelmed and severely disappointed). But comparing the RW lunch from last year to this year only, it's a significant improvement - that's what I'm really trying to say.
O wow, before I even read your review I just had lunch there today and I ordered the exact same dishes as you with the exception of dessert (chocolate for me) and my friend had all 3 dishes as your friend did. The ravioli was ok at best. It was nothing compared to Babbos raviolis. The skin was thick and I tasted too much of it. The lamb sausage was indeed heavier than what I expected with buttery mash to top it off but it was good. After my friend was finished with his bread, the bread guy did not stop to ask if he wanted some more and walked past us several times so we had to wave to flag him down. I never had that problem anywhere else. I don't like to do RW but I was under the impression that this would be different from all the others.
Not sure if you have done the normal lunch or dinner at EMP, but I just want to note that EMP can deliver much superior food and service during normal time. While I can't quite figure out why their quality suffers during restaurant week (something that I don't see in other Danny Meyer's restaurants, at least not as much), I also found that the food and service at EMP during past restaurant weeks were much weaker than what they could normally deliver. (I still remember that stone-hard cold butter and forgotten bread after my apps arrived in a previous RW experience). While it was still better than most restaurants during RW, I didn't want any more flaws to taint my impressions on EMP, and hence I have stopped going to EMP during RW, and actually RW in general.
I can guarantee you that if you were to go to EMP during dinner time, you will have a far better experience both in food and service.
Was a bit dissapointed with my EMP lunch experience.
Had the seared tuna on cold asparagus potage : interesting, but nothing to write home about. Then came a horrible chicken rouleau that looked and tasted as if it had been boilled. The chocolate torte was good and so was the passion fruit sorbet.
Thank god for the beautiful setting and the excellent service !