Dining at the bar at Eleven Madison Park
As usual, full review with photos at the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...
I haven't eaten in the main dining room at Eleven Madison Park since it got its third Michelin Star. Reservations have been harder to come by since the prestigious announcement, and it's hard to plan an expensive dinner with people so far in advance. However, I have eaten at the bar a couple of times, and the food is still wonderful.
The bar is busy all the time, but they do a good job of finding seats for diners among the people just grabbing a drink or waiting for their table in the dining room. Both times they told me it was going to be about 15 minutes and I didn't have to wait more than that, unlike many places in NYC. It's louder and more lively than the main dining room, but still very comfortable.
There are four appetizer choices ranging from $22-28, and four entrees in the $36-38 range, not including white truffle options. Desserts are about $18. These prices are about right for high end restaurants in NYC, although the portion sizes are smaller here than at some other places.
There's no selection of canapes, but there is bread service, with a delicious goat's milk butter, a creamy salted cow's milk butter, and salt. The bread is terrific. The inside is flaky, fluffy, and buttery, while the outside has a delicate, soft crust. It's quite rich by itself, and doesn't even really need butter.
SMOKED FOIE GRAS TERRINE WITH BLACK TRUFFLE AND POTATO
The terrine was rich and smooth, with a wonderful smell of truffle and a hint of smokiness. The flavors were concentrated and earthy, including the vegetables and potato nubbins. While foie is often served with some sweet or sour component to cut the richness, it wasn't evident here and I don't think it's necessary. That being said, the dish is a bit "busier" as a whole than I'm used to eating here.
While wine pairings are normal and EMP even does beer pairings, I decided to step up the difficulty by asking for a cocktail to go with the dish. While more flavors can be combined in a cocktail, skill is also needed to temper the higher alcohol content with the food. The one I had was called the "Repossession" (I think, I could be wrong), and while I forget the ingredients, it worked beautifully with the foie dish. It had nuances of umami and smokiness that enhanced those essences from the dish itself, while the citrus base was complementary and helped to cut the richness as mentioned above.
TAGLIOLINI WITH ALASKAN KING CRAB, BLACK PEPPER, AND LEMON
I used to eat this dish a lot back when they were doing their two course lunch. It is a comforting, delicious combination of sweetness from the crab with the brightness of the lemon and the sharpness of the black pepper. The texture of the tagliolini leans more toward the texture I associate with noodles rather than pasta, and appeals to me greatly.
LOBSTER WITH MUSHROOM SABAYON AND SPINACH
I had this entree a while back and don't recall the exact description. Everything was cooked perfectly and the flavors settled into a warm, comforting harmony with earthy, autumnal overtones. In fact, I hadn't been to EMP in a while and the moment I started eating this dish, the flavors started to come back like memories and I could easily say, "Yes, this is Daniel Humm's food at EMP. These are the flavors, essences, and combinations that epitomize his cooking."
The bar at EMP allows customers to enjoy some of the restaurant's characteristic dishes in a slightly livelier atmosphere and without having to make a reservation well in advance. However, considering the lack of canapes and the (expensive, but reasonable) $78 price for an appetizer, entree, and a dessert, it makes me appreciate even more the value of the $125 prix fixe in the main dining room.
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010
A lot has changed since I last ate at the EMP bar. They were awarded the fifth best restaurant in the world and the main dining room now only offers a $225 tasting menu. Here's an update of the EMP bar dining experience.
As usual, full review with photos at the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...
When discussing the tasting menu at Eleven Madison Park, much of the focus is often on the elaborate, interactive, shared courses such as the carrot tartare or the smoked sturgeon (both of which have been replaced with new courses on the tasting menu). However, many of the individual courses throughout are still updated fairly frequently according to the season, and are available on the bar menu. In fact, even though I was there only a few weeks ago, many of the dishes I'm writing about may already be off the menu. The menu set up was pretty much the same as when I last ate at the bar, although there were only 3 starters, 4 mains, and 2 desserts to choose from. However, the smoked sturgeon course from the tasting menu was also available for 2 or more people at $75pp.
CHARLES DE GAULLE: CHARTREUSE, SALTED HOT CHOCOLATE, ANGOSTURA MARSHMALLOWS
HOT TODDY: ISLAY SCOTCH, BLENDED SCOTCH, BENEDICTINE, HONEY, LEMON, AND SPICES
With the record cold winter, hot cocktails were the perfect way to warm up. Both were delicious takes on classics, with the CDG rich in chocolate and the toddy delicate and soothing.
PAPPY VAN WINKLE 20 YEAR BOURBON WHISKEY
EMP is also one of the few restaurants in NYC carrying Pappy, with the 20-year coming in at $45. I believe their sister restaurant, the NoMad, also carries Pappy, but I don't know the price.
BREAD AND BUTTER
The bread was still excellent, although I thought the crust was firmer this time around. The new hybrid butter, however, was extraordinary. As we had ordered the venison entree, the butter served was mixed with venison fat and chicken liver. It tasted like an amazing chicken liver pate with a rich aftertaste that was somehow even worse for my health because it was mostly butter.
FOIE GRAS; SMOKED TERRINE WITH POTATO, GREENS, AND BLACK TRUFFLE
Pretty much the same as when I had it two years ago, although the shape has change a bit.
OCTOPUS; SALAD WITH PUNTARELLA AND PEAR
While the flavors were all there, my friend thought that the octopus itself was too uniformly soft, and would have preferred a char on it for some texture contrast.
VEAL; ROASTED WITH CAULIFLOWER, CHESTNUTS, AND SMOKED BONE MARROW
The veal dish seemed simple in concept, but the flavors and textures were well put together. The smoked bone marrow was a unique and excellent touch.
VENISON; ROASTED WITH PEARS AND SUNCHOKES
Even before I took a bite, this dish won me over with its aroma. I haven't had a lot of venison, but I'd never encountered a venison dish that had such an amazing aroma of meatiness. The meat itself was very tender without being too soft, and had a very clean taste with just a hint of gaminess/muskiness.
APPLE; SORBET WITH BAY LEAF, CREME BRULEE, AND HIBISCUS
MINT; SORBET WITH FERNET BRANCA AND CHOCOLATE GANACHE
Both desserts were delicious and featured an array of textures. I thought the mint sorbet and the presence of actual mint was standout and a great way to highlight a classic pairing in mint and chocolate.
@fooder - how was pricing of the bar menu at the moment. As an aside, that bar was like my departments "after work lounge" when I worked upstairs... that was back in the early 2000's before all the stars were awarded...
@prince - I have been a Pappy drinker for years, fortunately I bunkered a bit through 2+ years ago when it was still gettable. It is a wonderful many layered drink... but $45 a shot... not a chance for me as I have tasted it many times, though that is a good way to see what the fuss is at a place where it is quite likely the bottle is filled with what is on the label (there are places where I am sure it is not). I'd never pay $500 a bottle in the secondary market...
There are options...
@pop3 - Like dyrewolf said, it is excellent with great depth, but $45/shot is quite a price. My friend who collects bourbon says there are comparable choices that aren't nearly as expensive. Perhaps it's slightly cheaper at the NoMad as well.
@dyrewolf - IIRC, prices haven't changed much since the last time (2011). Starters in the 20s, entrees in the 30s-40s. Can't really compare to back in the day though. I still fondly remember $28 2 course lunches during the early Humm-Guidara days.
Weller 12 year is great stuff at about $30. DeWine in Brooklyn has it
Jeffersons Very Old (make sure it is the Very Old) has a lot of layers to it at $60
Willet Still Pot - is smooth as a baby's bottom, possibly too light
Buffalo Trace is a wheater and I suspect you might like it.
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (already sold out till Sept 2014) is a great one
Go drop that silly $45 , contemplate carefully and then try the Weller and Jeffersons later that night... not the cheapest test but it is worth the learning I think
Thanks for the detailed report! Did you make a reservation to dine in the bar area, and if so, by what method and how far in advance?
My husband and I will be in NYC (from San Francisco) in late April and would love to revisit EMP, but have been priced out of the main dining room. We've discussed trying to drop by for at least a drink, but a meal in the bar area would be even better.
Hi, Kathryn; thanks for the reply.
We went to the NoMad on our last trip and enjoyed it a lot. Since we have not been back to EMP in a couple of years now, we may try for the bar this time.
Any tips on what time of day/day of the week would be best? We'll be in town for a full week.
Dining in the bar area is a great option. We've found the only days that can be problematic are Thursday and Friday but even then if you are okay with dining early you'll have no problem. Another thing you might try is to go in for a drink and mention to the FOH that you'd like to come back for dinner at the bar and they "might" be able to do something for you so you can better plan for it. FYI; if you go soon one of you needs to get the Mangalista pork dish they have, it's fantastic.
I'm pretty sure they don't do the kitchen tour for bar patrons, but EMP has been known to go above and beyond in terms of service. Perhaps for out-of-towners who ask nicely?
Even though EMP is one of the most efficient kitchens I've ever seen, I'm sure it is still very busy at times and an unplanned kitchen tour may not be so easy to handle.