Restaurant Week: Eleven Madison Park
This is my final Restaurant Week review. I’ve changed my mind into going to another restaurant for RW. I don’t think I can handle it anymore. So, let me talk about Eleven Madison Park, shall I?
I went to Eleven Madison Park before. As in my pre-blogging days and it was two years ago before the current chef, Daniel Humm, took charge of the kitchen. The restaurant has made a few changes, physically, in comparison to my last visit: they got rid of the large chandeliers and the black leather banquettes with a warm colored wood are the seating now. In all, the formality is gone but it’s still the most formal restaurant out of all of Danny Meyer’s (the restaurateur) restaurants. It’s just a bit more welcoming and warm due to the colors and the elimination of the chandeliers. You’ll see below. Also you might want to see the Amateur Gourmet’s review/photos of the place when it was the pre-Humm days.
The Restaurant Week menu (to see a larger version, just click on the photo):
I should mention that they didn’t seat me all the way to Siberia unlike at Telepan. I’m actually seated where most of the activity is buzzing around.
Other things they’ve changed is that the use of the maple leaf marketing: they only emblazoned the leaf only along the side of the banquettes; no longer on the butter (seen below) neither on the menu.
The bread served there was a choice of: a mini French baguette, a slice of multi-grain bread and a mini olive batard. I opted for the olive bread just because I like olives.
The bread was superb: crusty and crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, slightly salty and briny from the olives. Delicious. The butter was good, too. I think it tasted better than Telepan’s.
For some reason when I looked on the beverages available, I wanted to have a glass of non-alcoholic wine. Yes, I ordered grape juice but not any juice, it’s a Pinot Noir grape juice. It was a pretty darn expensive glass too; it cost me $7. Well, it tasted like grape juice but not like the stuff you drink when you were a child. It’s sweet but not cloyingly. I regret ordering that but I said it and it’s done. I might as well order a bottle of wine (pretty good choices) that I remember seeing that cost $24.07 instead of this grape juice. [bangs head on table for stupidity.]
As for the actual food, my appetizer was the “Big Eye Tuna with Satsuma Tangerine and Pickled Radishes.”
When my server came, I was slightly astonished to see this long, narrow plate. It’s beautifully presented and arranged. It also tasted as good as it looks. The tuna was almost melt-in-your-mouth. I said “almost” just because it was cut into 1/2 inch cubes so I have to chew it. The vinaigrette, radishes and tangerine were nice, sweet-sour accompaniments to the tuna. I liked this appetizer.
Next up was the “Navarin of Colorado Lamb with Taggiassa Olives and Tomato Confit.” It also came with a small bowl of mashed potatoes.
The mashed potatoes was unexpected, since I didn’t remember seeing it on the menu but it was a nice thought. The lamb tasted wonderful and hearty. The vegetables highlighted some sweetness of the lamb and everything tasted fresh and the olives gave it some briny salinity that was a good contrast to the heartiness of the lamb. The mashed potatoes tasted fine, nothing spectacular to note about. It was creamy (both flavor and texture) and a hint of butter. If you’re a meat and potato person, this is your dish.
Last but not least, dessert; which was the “Espresso Frozen Parfait with Banana Macadamia Nut Crisp & Chocolate Soup.”
First of all, the chocolate soup was poured from a silver sauce boat at the table. When the server poured it, the chocolate soup flowed down like a much thicker, milk chocolate version of City Bakery’s hot chocolate. The crisp that you see, is salty and sweet, underneath that crisp are two large dots of bittersweet (tasted like 62% cocoa) ganache with sweet, softe
ned banana slices. I liked this combination together. It worked well. As for the frozen dome of the espresso parfait, it was quite hard that I have to use some force to get a piece off of it. It’s quite potent in the espresso flavor, also the use of ground espresso beans (under the dome) amplified the espresso flavor. The chocolate soup had small, ground up bits of macadamia nuts. When I ate each component in a bite, it didn’t work out too well. I honestly enjoyed my dessert from Telepan more than here. So, two out of three courses that I like a lot, isn’t bad at all.
When I paid my check, my waiter gave me a gift certificate that is worth $24.07 just because I ate here during Restaurant Week. I must admit, Danny Meyer is one smart businessman. This is tempting me to go back here for lunch again.