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Feb 15, 2009 08:51 PM

Eleven Madison Park- FLAWLESS!

Ok so I am going to give you a really long-winded review because I think EMP totally deserves all of the praise I am about to give it. But to just sum it up into once sentence which really does not do this great institution ( yes I am calling it an institution) justice---- One of the best nights/dining experiences of my life! Ok so now I will start getting a little more detailed....

It all started with me calling the restaurant and asking if I could substitute the suckling pig entree as my appetizer. I spoke to the manager Megan who was absolutely awesome. Then I had requested to have the duck for two served for one as my entree. BOTH requests granted without the blink of an eye. And the best is I was not charged extra for either. They gave me the ENTREE portion of suckling pig for my appetizer. And for the duck they said they had a smaller whole duck in the kitchen that the chef would make for me. Already without even eating the food I thought "This place is amazing". And Megan told me to ask for her as soon as I got there.

I went with two of my friends and upon arrival we were seated promptly at 5:30 on the DOT. They took our coats and whisked us away to the gorgeous dining. Probably one of the nicest places I have ever been to so homey. The waiter came over and took our drinks orders. SHortly after we received our FIRST of many amuse bouches. A bunch of delicious hors deourves and warm cheese gougeres to munch on while we persued the menu. Well, while my friends did neway lol I knew what I was ordering.

As soon as the waiter came to take our order he said to me sir I heard you would like the suckling pig as your app and the duck as your entree. I was astounded-- how did he know that? The communication at this place was incredible. Megan came over shortly to greet me and she was just as pleasant in person as she was on the phone. She came over to check on us like 5 times throughout the meal. We also had about 5 different general managers come out to ask how our meal was - really the best service I have ever encountered in a restaurant. On top of every detail without being too pretentious and they were really genuine.

Onto the food. After our amuse, we got another amuse a mushroom soup with a parmesan croquette. Think the best little french onion soup ever. Then two pieces of bread with 2 different kinds of butter an fleur de sel salt. Amazing. In the beginning you're thinking wow these portions seem to be really small but trust me I was completely satisfied by the end of my meal- and anyone who knows me knows that is always a big thing for me. I hate these fu fu places that give you miniscule portions. But I will elaborate on that later on.

Apps- We all decided we would share and order different things. I had the suckling pig (unbelievably rich and the meat was incredible meltingly delicious with incredible crispy skin on top so amazing and the sauce that accompanied complemented it perfectly. We all loved it), Gnocchi with prawns and calamari (incredibly short and pillows of goodness with perfect shrimp and calamari), and the prawns and scallops with cauliflower cous cous. All were amazingly delicious.

For mains- I had the duck, friend has the lamb, and the other friend had the beef tenderloin and glazed short rib. NOW HERE IS MY FAVORITE PART OF THE MEAL. I am a stickler when it comes to duck. I loved a crispy skin and a rare breast. I was assured this would be the case and it certainly was. The honey lavender sauce that came with it was amazing. Perfect dish the best duck I ever had. Then I had requested to have the duck legs as well and Megan said to me unfortunately they do not give you the legs but instead take the leg meat and give you a duck confit cake which was also delicious. Seeing my disappoint though this is what she did... She took the legs off of ANOTHER DUCK and wrapped it up for me to go! No joke they have me 4 duck legs at no extra charge! At this point I am thinking This place is truly incredible. But of course ( and I dont know how) it gets better. My friends lamb was incredible cooked perfectly rare. My friends beef tenderloin was one of the best pieces of beef I have tested. And yes I am steakrules85 who has been to just about every steakhouse int he city. The short rib was fall off the bone tender, and it also came with the oxtail and bone marrow thing covered in like goat cheese I cant even explain it but it was fantasticccccccc. As far as the portions they were on the small side but at this point with all the freebies we were feeling quite satisfied! So happy at this point and I knew I had my whole duck waiting for me to go home!

Dessert- At this point we had talked to about 5 managers- all of whom were so gracious in accomodating us and making sure the meal was executed to perfection. But it was Megan again who came back to give us her detailed descriptions of dessert and her recs. She made everything sound soooo good. And at this point we knew it would be. We couldn't decide on just 3.. of course there was a fourth that sounded too good to pass up so I asked if we could order it for an up charge and of course she agreed. However, once the desserts came out the manager said "this one is compliments of the chef" or something. SO we got the extra dessert for free. We had the vermont quark souffle (AWESOME so light passion fruit sauce was a great compliment and this was my fave), the "malted milkshake, chocolate gateaux with coffee and hazelnut sorbet, cranberry pastilla with white chocholate in phyllo dough WOW. Thats all I can say. They were all quite small but once again it was nice not feeling overly stuffed so we got a taste of all and it was really delicious. Everything was plated incredibly and executed to perfectioN!

And then just when we thought it was safe... they come out with these mignardises after dessert. Incredible little pastries for all of us about 7 each. And they even offered us more. They came over 7 times to give us coffee refills. All in all we were there for 3 hrs. Time flew and they spaced out the meal just right. I have to say the portion sizes were just right with all the freebies. It really turns out to be an 11 course meal leaving u feeling completely satisfied not stuffed. For the price this was a steal. And they send you home with little candies to take home with you. I could sit here for another hour and keep typing away about how great this place is but my fingers would fall off. THAT is how great of an experience this was. I urge you all to go here and FAST! Thank you especially to RGR and kobetobiko for recommending this. You were both influential in my decision and this certainly was quite the experience for me and my friends! Nobody is perfect but this place is as close as it gets omg spectacular.

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  1. Hey, steakrules,

    Thanks for the detailed report. I can't say I'm exactly surprised at how your meal at EMP turned out. :-)) Still, I'm thrilled that you and your friends had such a wonderful experience, and that you did manage to get your duck legs after all. Yes, Megan is a delightful young woman. But then, the entire foh staff there is terrific! After all, they've all been to what I like to refer to as "The Danny Meyer School of Hospitality." :-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      RGR u know megan? Yeah she is terrific. And you really would not believe the portion they gave me! The legs look divine I cannot wait to dig in. It is more than my meal so I basically got the whole duck for free. AWESOME. Thanks again for ur high recs because this was so worth everything.

      1. re: steakrules85


        As you know, EMP is our favorite NYC restaurant, so I'm getting a real kick from your palpable enthusiasm about your dinner there. But as kobe says, no thanks is really necessary because not only did you do your homework by getting lots of info on this board, but you went a step further and let the staff at EMP know in advance what you had in mind. Since, as I've said, they always aim to please, you gave them the opportunity to show you that the words "hospitality" and "customer service" really do have meaning for them.

        Oh, and the next time we have the duck at EMP, I'm definitely going to ask them for those legs! lol

    2. Hi steakrules85,

      Really glad to hear that you enjoyed your meal so much! I was worried that the portion size might be small but it turned out to be enough for you and that's great! And honestly you don't have to thank us because you did your homework and requested ahead of time what you want. That's how the restaurant could make your experience better - just let them know ahead of time.

      It's so terrific that you got to enjoy most of the signature dishes, particularly the duck and the pig at the same time. That's a great combo! I can feel your excitement about EMP from your post and I am really happy for you!

      Early last year I thought their service slipped a little but they definitely paid attention to what we said (I bet they will see your post) and have up'ed their service a lot. My last few visits to EMP were filled with both excellent food and service.

      Are you going to have duck legs for 4 meals in a row? ;D Enjoy!

      1 Reply
      1. re: kobetobiko

        LOL yeah i can't wait to tuck into those duck legs! And yeha the portion sizes where JUST RIGHT. With all of those freebies it really does add up and the great thing is you have enough room for dessert. I left there feeling completed satiated and not sick to my stomach like I do sometimes. And it just seemed like they kept you on your toes. You didn't know which manager was going to come over next, what amuse was coming out, and then when we actually finally and sandly thought the meal was over when they cleared our desserts plates---- they bring out the mignardises! I made a comment like oh God theres more! This place is too much. To which the waiter replied we think this is just enough. LOL what a place.

      2. I am absolutely thrilled to read this today. I have reservations at EMP on Friday evening and I must say, I almost reluctantly made them. Now, I have read post upon post upon post upon post praising the food AND service, but must admit that I was slightly turned off by comments on the lack of warmth in the room. ANd I am the type of person that lets something like that stick in my mind. I have spent hours and hours (I am unemployed and a bit of an insomniac right now) diligently researching every upscale restaurant in the city for one that I thought would be "perfect". I went back and forth with EMP, always turning away because of the room factor. But, in the end, I just could not get past all the prais and on Saturday I made my reservations for four.

        Your review has gotten me very excited. And for you regulars, I have a this extra special service the norm? You, see my reason for dinner on Friday night is that we are getting married at City Hall on Friday afternoon. I hate to make special requests, but when I phoned to make my reservation I did ask if it would be possible to get a separate table, since it will be our wedding dinner and we want a bit more privacy than a shared banquette would offer. Now that I have read steakrules' review, I am thinking perhaps mention of our wedding will ensure us an evening like the one he had, which would sounds totally above and beyond...and great...but I don't want to get my hopes up.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Justpaula

          Hey, Justpaula,

          Congrats on your upcoming nuptials!

          Absolutely call EMP back and tell them that this is going to be your wedding dinner! I am confident that the entire staff will go all out to make the evening a truly memorable one for you and your soon-to-be-husband.

          I've attached two photos of the room which I took when we were there a few weeks ago.

          1. re: Justpaula

            Just Paula I am so glad that you found my review helpful. And I echo RGR's comments that you should definitely let them know it is your wedding dinner. They will ensure that it is EXTRA special! Prepare to be treated like royalty in a beautiful space and eat like kings and queens. It will be a night for the ages I assure you. Just make sure you talk to Megan because she really goes above and beyond the call of duty and I am sure she will do the same for you.

            1. re: steakrules85

              I certainly agree with you about Megan, steakrules. However, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that she is not always on duty. The other Dining Room Manager, Robert, is just as terrific a person and provides the same level of superb service. And I'd be remiss if I did not mention the General Manager, the Assistant G.M., and the Mgr. of Guest Relations, all of whom are on the floor. It is truly a team effort as they make certain that everything runs smoothly and any gitches which may crop up, however small, are quickly addressed.

              1. re: RGR

                Yeah Like I said we were visited by about 5 different people. After awhile it was quite comedic. They all knew about my special menus requests and were only delighted to accomodate me.

                1. re: steakrules85

                  I would just second what you wrote about Eleven Madison Park. I recently took my Boy Friend there for his B-Day. The meal was flawless. I don’t eat meat (he does) and I mentioned this to them and they personalized the Tasting Menu (we went for the mid range 125$ one) and it was fantastic. They even made sure the many appetizer items which they had (they have a course with about 8 small little things) all did not have meat. They were incredible!

                  We also brought a wine to have uncorked and they were incredible the bottle was pretty old so I was nervous it might have gone bad and it was also sealed in wax which had to be chipped off. They did an incredible job opening it and decanting it. The whole meal was amazing. Probably my favorite special occasion place in NYC.

                  1. re: hkhungry

                    Yeah theyre amazing they don't leave any stone unturned. The second you sit down they ask if you have any food allergies. I have never been to a pace that does that.!

            2. re: Justpaula

              I am going tonight - and am soooooooo excited!!!

              1. re: smilingal

                I just had an INSANELY good lunch there. I recommend it highly.

                1. re: smilingal

                  I must be among the very few...... but...... I don't think I would rave about the food - I felt this whole experience was just that, about the experience, the element of surprise and delight. I am very happy that I went, and felt fortunate to have the experience - but I do feel that it is probably one that I wouldn't be repeating. The service is tops as well!

                  1. re: smilingal

                    Is it true that coffee is now $25?

                    1. re: H Manning

                      They are stil serving regular coffee. However, there is also siphon coffee. Special beans are used, and the coffee is prepared tableside. A pot contains enough for 3-4 cups The cost is $22..

                      You can see the siphon coffee process here:


                    2. re: smilingal

                      Having been lucky enough to eat there a few times, I did have one meal that was only very good. All but one of the rest were great. That other one was mind-blowing (top 5 white tablecloth meals of my life). Perhaps you just started with a "very good" meal and are now primed for a great (or even mind-blowing) one.

                      1. re: nmprisons

                        H Manning - The dinner cost $325 (I believe) for two - but that did include a half bottle of the least expensive champagne! And that was before tip!

                        nmprisons - but there are sooooo many other fine restaurants to try! For the small bites....... I just don't think so.

                        AND NOT TO MENTION...... Had to try the pork as so many on here raved about it - but it was all fat - truly all fat - and I am one who admittedly loves to chew the fat from steaks or off bones - but this was just not good.

                2. Please let me first apologize. One for this being SOOOO long, and also to Steakules and RGR for not thanking you both in a timely manner for your guidance. As you know, I was hesitant about EMP - but you sold me and I could not be more grateful for a restaurant recco.

                  This was truly was a top of the line dining experience. There ended up being six of us for our dinner. The service was outstanding. I will say, that new hubby for a moment felt it was a bit overbearing, but he is a shy guy and a little uncomfortable with too much attnetion - and even feeling that way for a bit he was be the first to say just how outstanding the service was.

                  Four of us took a seat in the small lounge while we waited for two more to join us. We were greeted by a manager, Robert, and congratulated immediately. He explained that we need not order cocktails as we waited because they had a bottle of champagne chilling for us by our table. I asked my husband if he had called and requested this. He had not. It was a gift from the restaurant! Once seated, the champagne was opened with a large knife (not quite sure I can call it a sabre), which was felt so celebratory. From then on, the staff continues to surprise us with many extra little touches that made our VERY small wedding so special. They included heart shaped florals on the table (which I had not noticed until I received pics, but my friend/photographer told me that when she took the pics had also taken notice that it was not the norm on all tables). Upon reviewing the menu, I glanced to the top of the page and noticed that, "CONGRATULATIONS!" was printed on each side. Prior to leaving they presented us with a gift bag with the gift-boxed champagne cork, the menu scrolled up and tied with a ribbon, and some candies. When you don't have a big fancy shin-dig, it is nice to have a few keepsakes.

                  The food was incredible. We all opted for the $88 prix fixe. But outside of our three courses, each person received a tray of four hors d'ouvres. Then two amuses. One, a wild mushroom tea, with a Parmesan cheese puff in it. Then, the beet and chevere gel-molecular-gastronomy things in the spoons. I can't remember the term right now. We also enjoyed the gougeres and the bread with two butters and sea salt. All of the apps were great, I had the scallop and shrimp, the scallop definitely being the star. My new brother in law gave me a taste of his crab roulade and I was jealous I had not gotten that! but then I had my husbands foie gras with mushroom brioche and I was jealous I had not gotten that! It was all so wonderful. I had wanted the duck, but alas, was the only one, so I asked if it were possible to have it for one. And they said no prob - but I am quite sure I had the two person serving. It was tender and perfect as was the beef I tasted to my right and the lamb I tasted to my left! Not one person had one bite of food they were not completely thrilled by. Prior to the desert course, we were flooded with mignardises. My husband and I had our desert plates adorned with "Congratulations" on them and that was sweet no pun intended.

                  But, wait, wait! the most exciting part of the meal for me, other than having a brand new husband by my side ;), was that Chef Humm came out mid-meal to give us his best wishes. I was pretty tipsy, I have to admit, so I was pretty blatantly star-struck. Being a reader of food blogs and boards, and books and magazine, I thought it was awesome.

                  Finally, my original concerns about the room being "cold", as I had read elsewhere were completely unfounded. It was warm and beautiful and perfectly served and really, truly made for a most amazing wedding dinner. I HIGHLY recommend it and can't wait to go back - definitely for our Anniversary, but perhaps before!!! I need to try everything else on the menu that I did not this time!

                  It was the first time in my life I put a handwritten note in the mail to let the manager know just how truly special their staff made us feel - and how truly wonderful our food was.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Justpaula

                    Wow! After that glowing review, I'm going to have to try this place!!!

                    1. re: Justpaula


                      Congratulations and I am glad you had a great time! No need to thank me. Thank EMP haha!!!!!!!!!!!!

                      1. re: Justpaula


                        Congratulations to your and your new husband!

                        The joy you experienced during your wedding dinner at EMP literally jumps off the page and has me smiling. Thanks for sharing the details of this memorable occasion with us. :-)

                        1. re: RGR

                          I've gotta add to this thread that my husband and I had a fabulous meal at EMP last Saturday evening. We were visiting NYC for the weekend to celebrate my birthday and after much research I chose Eleven Madison Park for our special meal. On previous trips we've done Daniel, Jean George, and Boulet, as well as numerous others. EMP far surpassed those others and was easily on par and even surpassed some of the many 3 Michelin starred places that we've dined at in France. Over the top generosity, every dish excellent, and beyond flawless service.

                          And yes, the communication amongst the team is amazing. Somehow it came up that my husband and I have made many trips to Paris, and that dining is one of the primary focuses of a lot of our travel. The bells and whistles, that were already going strong, suddenly increased and little tastes of special things started to appear at our table "compliments of the chef" so in addition to the appetizers and amuses, we had numerous little courses between the 3 courses that we'd ordered! During dessert (the main dessert that came after 3 pre-desserts) chef Humm came out of the kitchen and came to our table to talk with us about how we enjoyed our meal and to ask us where we've dined in France. He's a very gregarious man and was clearly interested in talking food and travel with us.

                          I couldn't recommend this place more highly. The room is lovely, the food cannot be faulted (the only miss was a carrot marshmallow on the appetizer tray; more cute than tasty) and the exact right level of friendliness and professionalism makes the service the best I've ever experienced in a restaurant of this calaber. And for $95 a person for the 3 course menu, a serious value in my opinion. Can't wait to return!

                          Eleven Madison Park
                          11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

                          1. re: plafield

                            Wow. This is fantastic. I'll be in the city in about three weeks and in a weekend where I have reservations at EMP, Per Se and Corton, I think I may most excited for EMP. Can't wait.

                            Per Se
                            10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                            239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

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