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Mar 29, 2012 07:17 PM

Eleven Madison Park & Picky Eater

We're planning to eat at Eleven Madison Park. My dining companion has a long list of food dislikes. Given that the menu only lists the main ingredient for each dish (and the tasting menu may offer even less detail), we're concerned that some dishes would include ingredients she dislikes.

EMP's web site says to "share any thoughts or preferences, including any ingredient dislikes, and allow us to design their meal from there." Alas, she has too many dislikes to list.

Will this be a problem? The best solution would be for her to see a menu that lists main ingredients for each course (i.e., a normal menu), but that doesn't seem to be how EMP operates.

I suppose the best alternative is to discuss the matter with our server. Any other suggestions, including anything we might do in advance?

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  1. Can you call and ask to email over a list of "avoids" beforehand?

    6 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      As I mentioned, she has too many dislikes to list.

      1. re: RichardNYC

        You can take me instead, I have no dislikes what so ever.

        1. re: RichardNYC

          Can you start making a partial list? Hard to say how dinner will go without some idea of your dining companion's dislikes.

          Is it certain proteins? Fruits and vegetables? Certain spices and herbs?

          When we were there, our server literally asked us to list any things to avoid. So I think they ARE expecting you to rattle off a list of things you don't wish to eat. I'm curious how you expect the kitchen to react without a list to go on....

          Also keep in mind that EMP recipes are very complicated -- sometimes with 30 different ingredients.

          1. re: RichardNYC

            Yeah, you have to start with the strong dislikes. And then go from there.

            One thing that might help is that when EMP does something, it can turn a dislike into a don't mind, to even a revelation.

            If you dined with her before, you probably have a good idea what might be tolerable.

            So email as much as you can. From prior experience, they'll bring it up again during the confirmation call, and when you are ready to order. At that point, you/she can pay closer attention to how the dishes are constructed and tell them to adjust accordingly then. Hopefully at that point the adjustment will be more minor.

            1. re: villainx

              This is true; I feel like a restaurant like EMP can turn your dislikes on their head. (Alas, I have absolutely no dislikes, so I can't speak from experience.)

              I would just name the main things (e.g., no shellfish, no bell peppers, no anise, or whatever) and then the rest? Well, that's a risk you have to take. Sort of seems unfair to "waste" such a meal on a picky eater though.

              1. re: loratliff

                Agreed (and I say that as a semi-picky eater myself, on whom most high-end tasting menus would be wasted). For the really picky eaters I know, it's not just a case of making a list of forbidden ingredients, since you're talking about things like "no mushy food," "no ___ and ___ touching each other," "no eggs or baked good or other items containing egg if I can taste the egg" . . .

        2. I've always been under the impression that EMP is not a good place for a picky eater. If you guys are set on eating there, I think your companion will have to list everything she won't eat. Otherwise, I can't fathom how a restaurant kitchen can tailor a menu to her palate without knowing the restrictions.

          1. Don't go there with this person - go elsewhere with her, and if you want to go to EMP, go with someone else.

            2 Replies
            1. re: gutsofsteel

              I generally agree with this statement, although I would be hard pressed to go to any restaurant with someone like that unless they chose the place. It would just be too frustrating.

              That said, with some advanced notice, EMP has as good a shot as anywhere in the country of making her feel welcome and giving her something to eat that she likes.

              1. re: gutsofsteel

                this. seems kinda like hiring an artist to make you a beautiful and creative painting, but then giving a huge list of things he's not allowed to paint. gotta let the artist (or chef!) be themselves!

              2. I have been an EMP "regular" for a very long time, but last nite was the first time I was with a group which included multiple "picky eaters". The list of "dislikes" was uncomfortably lengthy, and I choose that word specifically because frankly I felt badly for both the person taking the extensive notes around our order and for the kitchen. Well, 5 hours later, the verdict was unanimous. A brilliant meal, meticulously customized to the eccentricities of my dining companions, wonderfully creative, absolutely delicious. The servers took pride in pointing out the many modifications made to each dish, and that actually ended up adding to the fun.

                For the umpteenth time, just a magnificent restaurant.

                1. I went to Eleven Madison Park with my parents. My mother is a)diabetic, and b)has high blood pressure. And they accommodated her beautifully. She loved it. I find that a place like Eleven Madison park can be more special for picky eaters, since they are so accommodating. People who like everything have tons of options. Picky eaters and people on restricted diets don't.

                  If your friend's dislikes fall into a large grouping, (Fish, dairy, green veggies, etc.), I'd let them know ahead of time. Otherwise, I'd just ask them at the table what the preparation is. They'll tell you. And, if your friend doesn't like something on it, they'll be more than willing to change it.