Eleven Madison Park
Eleven Madison Park (EMP)- "the No. 1 restaurant in the world" in 2017 and still holding 3 Michelin stars, was a stop on my NYC food tour last week (but really SATC tour because of the scene where Big tells Carrie he’s engaged to Natasha.)
Even though the meal was entirely vegan, (and it is supposed to be vegan for the foreseeable future), the 10 course meal was decadent and I couldn't even finish some of the dishes [but I did save room for dessert]. The dining experience was over 4 hours long and I was definitely full.
TLDR: If you are looking for an upscale vegan dinner with impeccable service - this is the place. I wouldn't recommend if you find most value in meat/seafood, or are not flexible with dining plans (a multi-hundred dollar reservation is not refundable).
Check-in: We were greeted by the Guest Relations Team, and there were 2-3 people in the lobby- one to check-in, another to check coats, and another to guide guests to the table. After showing vaccination status on the CLEAR app, we were good to go.
Drink: Manhattan Cart
Most cocktails and glasses of wine are well above $20. When looking at the drink menu - I was like ok $25 is fine for a Manhattan since I probably can't handle a the alcohol with the wine pairing. But then they gave me this menu:
and I was like holy sh!t I can't drink 6 manhattans and will they make me pay $125? Fortunately it was just a list of the available options, and I ended up going with a Brooklyn Heights that I nursed throughout the night. The Manhattan Cart was a cool experience that started in 2012, and it was my first time having a Manhattan served tableside in Manhattan! The bartender explained the drink making process and how each element enhanced the drink.
Course 1: Onion - Tea, Salad, and Tart with Truffles
Course 2: Tofu - With Black Truffle and Sunchoke
Bread course - onion butter (with miso)
Course 3: Turnip - with Sweet Potato, Finger Lime and Wasabi
This was actually my favorite course. Every bite was so light and earthy, and I usually don't like wasabi but it complemented the veggies and was actually refreshing with enjoyable layered textures.
Course 4: Tonburi - with Cauliflower, Za'atar and Pita
This was a replacement caviar. It had the same texture, but not as briny. I liked the incorporation of Japanese (the tonburi) with Greek/Mediterranean elements (the grape leaves and couscous underneath the "land caviar.") I'm not a huge caviar fan, but I still think caviar was more luscious than this tonburi.
Course 5: Brown Rice - Roasted with Fresh Seaweed and Meyer Lemon
The rice (from Blue Moon Acre in New Jersey) was presented in a nabe bowl and pickled and pan fried with sofrito, then mixed with shiso and pickled kombu, and simmered with chile, lemon and chive. The cup had seaweed salad and aioli. The lemon definitely helped balance the savory. An interesting rice dish and attempt at fusion, but not something that necessarily would make me want another bowl.
Course 6: King Oyster Mushrooms - Fried with Lemongrass and Ginger
Surprise course: truffle tarts v2
These were specially made since we told the server we "can eat 6 more of these [course 1 truffle tarts]." By this point I was getting so full I only had 1 slice and they offered to pack the rest to go! Another nice touch - these were packed and they handed over at coat check at the end of the meal (maybe 1.5 hours later).
Course 7: Celery Root with Chestnut Masa
This was like a steamed tamale. The sauces and the salsa verde stood out more than the tamale.
Course 8: Parsnip with Apple Shrub
A nice palette cleanser.
Course 9: Citrus with Coconut and Meringue
Very acidic and light dessert. It was served right after our dining neighbors who were regulars and ordered the wine pairing got a cellar tour, so we did not go on the tour and opted to eat dessert.
Surprise course with Kitchen tour: Rolled Maple Syrup
Course 10: Pretzel with Sesame and Chocolate
Post dinner liquor
Treats to take home: granola, and a container with the menu in circle accordion form .
Concluding thoughts:EMP is definitely more about the experience than the food. The staff was super attentive, explained every course very well, and even brought out an extra truffle mini-pizza when we said we liked truffle. There weren't any jaw-dropping dishes where I couldn't stop spooning it into my mouth (see this uni rice I had at Maido), but even though I am not the biggest fan of truffle I still found the meal decadent and I was very full at the end.
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