For the sake of being curious, I wanted to try Eleven Madison Park‘s tasting menu for lunch. Why? Well, I still have their Restaurant Week certificate (which worth $24.07). It would be interesting to let Chef Daniel Humm strut his stuff for lunch, instead of me picking out what I think tastes good.
The only thing differed from my tasting from the menu was the Lobster Cappuccino due to the fact that I’m allergic to shellfish. Here’s the menu (read the second page).
As always first, the bread and butter.
I’m still amused how they serve the butter
Butter dish, uncovered
My French Baguette/Roll
This time, I just chose the French baguette. I’m not feeling for olive or multi-grain bread. The bread was good. A thin, crisp, crust with a chewy, irregular crumb. The butter is fine. I just kind of miss how they had the maple leaf shaped butter. Now, it’s a bit unappealing to see that they cut the butter with a serrated knife that isn’t even cut straight.
The name of this dish is “Foie Gras torchon with Venezuelan Cocoa and Quince.” It looks pretty, doesn’t it? Obviously, the foie gras torchon is decadent and rich. The cocoa that is marbled in the foie is very subtle. It contrasts the richness of the liver with sharp, bitter tones of the unsweetened cocoa. The quince jelly that the foie gras is resting on top of, is another component to cut through the fatty richness; leaving behind a nice, slightly tart flavor on the palate. Just to note, there’s also a slice of rich, eggy, buttery broiche that is lightly toasted and marbled with unsweetened cocoa to accompany this dish. It provides an added richness but also it gives it a textural contrast from the smooth and creamy to the flaky, crispness of the broiche toast.
First course: Mediterranean Loup de Mer with Slow Cooked with Saffron Endive Nage
This is a rich yet light fish course. Loup de mer is sea bass, that is poached in endive, saffron, vegetable broth (that’s nage). The nage has a lovely spectrum of flavors ranging from bitter to sweet from the assortment of vegetables, like the endive and the use of saffron in that broth. Obviously, there is some use of butter to make it richer. The loup de mer is cooked perfectly. It’s sweet and mild tasting, yet it took in some of the flavors from the nage. The vegetable quenelle that sits on top of the fish also imparted some sharpness to contrast the richness of this dish.
Second course: Prawn Cappuccino in Velouté
The name is somewhat incomplete since the person who served this to me mumbled the name and description of this dish. This is supposed to replace my Lobster Cappuccino, as I have mentioned earlier. All I can taste was pretty much a velouté (a cream soup) of leeks, potatoes, possibly quince, and celeraic. The prawns provided a sweet contrast the velouté soup. It was perfectly cooked. The soup was interesting but I don’t really see point of the cappuccino part, which is the foam. I think it’s for vanity; it didn’t really do much in terms of texture.
Third course: Four Story Hill Poularde Poached with Black Truffles and Butternut Squash
Unveiling of the black truffle
This dish is one of the most expensive served during lunch, if it was to be ordered a la carte it would cost you $34. I guess it would make sense since Four Story Hill is a local New York purveyor of milk-fed chickens like it was raised in Bresse, France. They’re pampered, happy little birds until it’s time for them to be sold and eaten. The black truffle is on the generous side, since it practically covered the entire surface of the chicken breast meat. The taste was hearty and earthy due to the nature of the taste of the black truffle and the brown sauce that is drizzled on the meat. The chicken was tender and juicy; well cooked. Once again, that potato foam on top of the chicken served no practical purpose to the dish, unless one would argue that the light texture of the foam contrasted to the heaviness of this dish. But I don’t see the point of foam. The orange dots are butternut squash mousseline; the white is potato mousseline, and the ones with parsley leaves on top are parsnip mousseline. Out of those three I liked the sweetness of the butternut squash and the crunchy bitterness of the parsnip.
The last course: Fourme d’Ambert with Pear-Vanilla Mousseline, Port Wine Reduction and Caramelized Pecan
Served with a slice of toasted pecan raisin bread
I opted for a cheese course this time, since the superb pastry chef, Nicole Kaplan left last Thanksgiving. The dessert department has not reached the same (tasting) heights as Mr. Humm’s dishes, as I have tasted last time during Restaurant Week in February.
The Fourme d’Ambert is a dense, pungent, creamy, nutty, blue cheese. The accompaniments with the blue cheese on that plate, paired very well: it brought out the sweet contrasts and accompanied the nutty character in the cheese. The toast also played the same role, but also brought in a crunchy, chewy texture to the game. It’s lovely.
By the time I finished the cheese course, the sommelier and possibly one of the managers of the restaurant came to my table and inquired me how I thought of my lunch. I simply replied, “It was interesting…but good.” He seemed somewhat satisfied with that answer. I asked about the prix fixe menu that they used to offer but he said that they wanted to step away from that and go toward a real tasting menu. Those of you who followed this restaurant for a while and wondered what the heck happened to that menu, there’s your answer.
Even though it’s a side comment, I think he visited my table just because I was taking photos of my food and scribbling away notes as I’m eating. I think that they think I’m a food critic/writer for a magazine. How humorous and flattering…
For all the photos in a somewhat slideshow format, please click here.