Eleven Madison Park is not a dining experience; it’s a state of mind, a journey that activates all your senses from the second you walk into the minute you leave. Your ears, your eyes, your taste buds and your nose will be put to a challenge, and they will love it; come here and let yourself be guided into the world of chef Daniel Humm.
Trying to book a table for the last two years without success, I received an unexpected phone call this afternoon... hello sir, we can have you at the bar tonight! And yes, at the bar or anywhere they desire, I am having dinner at Eleven Madison Park, the restaurant which has won every possible culinary award out there; The world’s best restaurant, top of the list on the 50 best, among other recognitions stated on Wikipedia. The restaurant is a paradise for foodies. With its three Michelin stars, Eleven Madison Park is surely a place that impresses.
It’s all in the details. The email sent introducing the person who will be welcoming you, the question they ask if you’re celebrating anything, the discussions opened at the door, and with the waiter, the huge phenomenal choice of wines and the list goes on and on.
Let’s start by the confirmation: “A message from Eleven Madison Park
We are looking forward to welcoming you to Eleven Madison Park! One of our Maître D'hotel will be reaching out before your reservation to answer any questions you have, and work with you to find anything we can do to make your time with us more special. In the meantime, if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to reach out.” All the best,
Then comes the introduction: “We are so excited that you are able to join us this evening! If there’s anything we can do to make your time with us more special, please do not hesitate to ask. Additionally, our Guest Relations Manager, Jane (copied above) will be at the front door to meet you when you arrive, should anything come to mind between now and then.”
Our waiter approached and opened a discussion: he described the menu and confirmed the discussion that happened over the phone. So you can’t eat garlic he says, I’ll make sure you won’t have any. With a big smile on his face, he is confirming giving me a printed menu at the end of the night.
The team at Eleven Madison Park: classy, professional and extremely well trained.
Let’s start by describing the place; a big space with a high ceiling, lit by yellow dimmed lights. Long glass facades, carpet to ease your steps and chandeliers hanging down from the ceiling. The decor is simple yet relaxing, classy and chic; hearing people enjoying their time in style while listening to soothing jazz tunes.
I arrived at eight thirty with my phone in hand taking pictures here and there. I was so excited, so satisfied, so happy to experience one of the world’s best. Three stars are not something any restaurant could acquire. Seated at the bar, I enjoyed the beautifully lit bottles and took pleasure in listening to the discussions of the bartenders with their guests.
At the table, a package awaits, a gift to be devoured before the start. A savory biscuit, a mise en bouche to the upcoming classy experience.
Chablis was my choice, a white wine I like: the sommelier approached me, helped me go through the choices before choosing the bottle. I was happy to discover that Lebanon’s Chateau Musar is on the list. Served in Riedel’s finest glasses, the wine experience is special.
Dinner started with caviar; a metallic box of caviar in which a robe of hollandaise comes to boost the flavors. A marriage of textures where fresh corn crunches in style, cream caresses your lips, egg yolk flows on your tongue and caviar awaits to be pushed up your palate, exploding in all its grandeur. Smooth, acidic... majestic. Try the sandwich; bits of bread are served with your caviar for you to create your own sandwiches. A tender bread to hold that balanced mix to create a journey my buds didn’t understand! Food extravaganza if I may call it.
Cutlery is changed, glasses are refilled, waiters walk around in style remembering the choice and status of every table, making things happen without having to ask a single question; after the caviar served with a spoon of resin, a small sized silver was placed on the table ready to welcome the next course. And then the butter landed on the table.
It’s not butter; it’s magic! The butter ritual which arrived now, after the caviar, is literally the tastiest butter I’ve had in my entire life. Butter produced on premises and topped with dehydrated cheddar from Vermont. The magical butter is served with sea salt and homemade bread, oily and buttery bread made with flour from the finger lakes. Bread and butter made me scream from joy; I was moaning indistinctly not believing what I’m eating. Yumm!!!
The next course was crab salad with zucchini; yes, you hear salad and expect something served in a bowl but not at 11 Madison Park. A thin layer of fresh crab topped with a crunchy biscuit and thinly sliced zucchini marinated in a strong acidic sauce. That’s not a salad; it’s a masterpiece.
Foie gras, a rectangular bloc with rhubarb. Creamy, light-bodied yet rich in flavors topped with a sour rhubarb and a crunchy crumble. I like the texture that feels like a biscuit, the after-note they leave in the mouth, the end notes of bitterness and the actual taste the mind will remember for long. That’s good, that’s really, really good.
How greatly synchronized the staff is: one sets the bread plates, one cleans the bread crumbs, one pours the wine, one prepares cutlery for the next plate while the head waiter keeps an eye on the details. Every guest is treated as a king and that’s what makes it the world’s best restaurant. Guy Degrenne Silverware, Victorinox knives and Riedel glasses, the restaurant uses the best!
The experience continues: lobster brought from mains wrapped with a green leaf and bathing in a rich sauce. Big chunks of lobster cooked to perfection wrapped individually with a dry leaf that might be mustard or sweet potato. I called Chris, our head waiter tonight who has an answer to everything if he knows it or not in a professional way. “Sir, I’m sorry but your bread landed on another table, I’ll make sure your plates are not touched until you receive your promised bread and dip it into your sauce”. This guy has been intensely trained!
More bread, more butter; OMG! This combination is surreal. The butter is like none I’ve had before, the bread is phenomenally delicious.
One hour and thirty minutes passed and then arrived the main dishes: one hundred and forty days dried ribeye melts under the teeth like butter while preserving its strong, enjoyable structure. Well balanced and strongly textured, the meat is like none I’ve experienced before. The duck is as good, firmly textured, red fruits sauce, acidic and zesty with loads of spices. I enjoyed both plates and each ingredient they showcase.
The ending: a plate of cheese with Camembert bread rolls and a chocolate cake. The cheese is complicated, an empty plate with two lines on it, next to a basket of bread rolls. The chocolate is outstanding; ice cream, dark chocolate, crunchy crumbles, coffee and gelée. That’s a masterpiece.
The experience was not done yet, with the cheque we received a dark chocolate biscuit and a glass of apple brandy.
I loved the experience and was very happy to have visited. Three stars deserved and being on top of the list of the 50 best is clearly justified. Dinner is for 185$/person at the bar and 315$ at the dining table, adding to that an average of 200$ for the wine bottle. And even more; you leave with a gift, homemade granola in a bag and a copy of your menu.
- Food: classy and balanced.
- Service: professional and upscale.
- The experience: memorable and repeatable.
- Recommended: yes!
11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010, USA