I had eaten at EMP twice before and couldn’t wait to get back there. It is the perfect special occasion place–not too stuffy and absolutely special.
First things first—open up the beautifully folded napkin and the small square menu is hiding underneath, like a surprise. Each dish is described by one word. Four choices for apps, first course, main and dessert.
I wanted a glass of something bubbly and the waiter gave me a taste which I rejected and tried another which I really though was off but was too embarrassed to say. (After a while, Ken told the sommelier and he brought me a glass of chenin blanc which was perfect.)
Immediately they brought a little basket with very small gougers—they were about the size of a large marble, light and subtly cheesy. There is a choice of bread and 2 types of butter at the perfect temperature—one is goat butter and the other just fabulous butter.
Then a cute, young, enthusiastic guy, wearing an apron, comes out (apparently they let the cooks come out and serve a few things) and gives us each a white, china espresso cup with chicken veloute and brioche toast with truffle butter. The veloute was one of the best things in the whole dinner, to me. Not too thick but so much chicken soupy flavor inside the perfect silky texture. It made me think—this is what kids go to cooking school to learn. The brioche toast was very light and the truffle butter was earthy with the expected flavor.
Next—a string of “complementary” amuses. Little smoked salmon flowers with caviar centers, hamachi (raw) and my favorite was egg shells filled with sturgeon zabaglione. I was a little foamy and yet very rich, with tiny chunks of the fish in it. Each bite was just delicious. At the very bottom was bright green chive oil, which kind of cleansed your palate. The dish was brilliant! There may have been another sturgeon plate.
For apps Ken got beets—they were of several colors and preparations—raw, cooked, pickled and artfully placed on the plate with a little cheese and greens. I had tuna—raw sushi style slices, quarter size discs of white potato and I don’t remember what else. First course –Ken’s lobster tailpiece was perfectly cooked. At presentation the waiter spooned a very light, almost foamy, sauce inside the curve the tail made on the plate. There were fresh celery leaves and a bunch of other components, too.
I had celery—which was cooked several ways including a large (3inch?) diameter disc of celery root puree. I loved the dish but it held the one disappointment of the meal. It was supposed to have a black truffle sauce and I could see them on the plate but they had absolutely zero flavor. Oh well.
For the entrée, we both got the pork. They were pretty pink, small chops—so tender. I can’t remember what else was on the plate except a lovely bit of sweet potato puree. We had switched to a red Rhone wine by then.
Dessert—Ken had “vanilla.” It was a picture perfect soufflé and the waiter added a quenelle of passion fruit ice cream into the center. I loved how confident this presentation was. Just the souflle—no nonsense. It may have been the best dessert I ever tasted and I’m not a huge vanilla fan. I chose apple. There were so many components but my favorite was the cider ice cream and all the combinations of flavors you could try with the little sauces all over the place.
More desserts came with coffee. The malt ice cream with olive oil was just a revelation. There was a pumpkin tuille with whipped cream, espresso cream filled beignets and a few others—I can’t read my skimpy notes.
After all that—they served us each a small glass of cognac, leaving the bottle on the table with an invitation to help ourselves to more.
The whole thing took about 3 hours. Another highlight was that the chef, Daniel Humm, came out of the kitchen and actually stopped at our table. I was pretty star- struck but I did shake his hand.
When we left they gave us a jar of homemade granola to take with us. Of course, it’s the best ever!


Eleven Madison Park–My All Time Favorite Restaurant — 5 Comments

  1. Jan, this place sounds wonderful…next time in NYC! Glad you and Ken had a special anniversary together time. Thanks for sharing a little of that time with us. It was fun.

  2. Sounds wonderful,Jan. I’ll keep this in mind in case we don’t make it to Italy for our 35th. It was great to see you!