Summer RW ’08 – Eleven Madison Park – A Huge Improvement
As Giulia and I got seated in, I can’t help but be in a moment of awe how everything seems elegant and refined – the high ceilings, large windows, and the tall floral centerpieces.
Eventually, we ordered our food and bread service rolls in. I have a penchant to get an olive roll no whenever I have the option to. I just love the salty bite of an olive but other than that, nothing too extraordinary about this roll.
Giulia’s heirloom tomatoes with big eye tuna and olio verde is something she never tried before because she’s not a tartare and sushi fan. She wanted to try it since it sounded tasty and interesting. When she took a bite, it made her a convert. The fresh, chewy-soft cubes of tuna (she would describe it as “gelatin”) melds with the sweet tomatoes (that’s the two cylindrical things on top) and the gentle floral bite from the lavender flowers that dots the top of this dish. It’s really good. Probably I should make an attempt to re-create this dish at home and serve it to my raw fish haters.
As for my appetizer, the sweetbread ravioli with corn, lime, and chorizo, it was covered with a lot of foam (lime foam I presume?). Those of you who are familiar with Chef Humm’s style, he likes foams. Anyway, the ravioli was cooked perfectly – the pasta was soft and eggy with the creamy sweetbread filling. The corn is under the ravioli; it sweetens and adds a crunch to the dish.
Moving on to the main course, Giulia wanted the summer squash ratatouille with Parmesan shavings because of Ratatouille the movie. Don’t tell me you haven’t watched it. If you haven’t I highly suggest you as a foodie, to go and rent that DVD!
Anyway, her dish was really gorgeous with the vibrant colors of the oils drizzled on the plate contrasting the earthy tones of the vegetables. Flavor-wise, it was quite sweet from the heirloom tomatoes, zucchini (that’s the container of this dish – technically the Rond de Nice variety), bell peppers, and onions. It tasted a bit heartier than what I expected in a ratatouille. Granted, I haven’t eat enough ratatouille to tell you if it’s spot-on or not.
As for myself, I am somehow stuck on lamb mode since I gotten myself the Colorado lamb sausage with eggplant, tomato confit, and roasted garlic. I wouldn’t have thought of this dish as something to eat for summer since it’s quite hearty. The fluffy mound of creamy, buttery mashed potatoes added more heft to the delicately flavored lamb sausage. The eggplant puree that sits beside that sausage had a touch of zing – possibly cumin? A sliver of confitted tomato and a whole, unpeeled roasted garlic clove added a depth of sweetness to this dish.
Moving on to dessert, Giulia is on a peach mode, ordering the glazed peaches with rosemary honey and mascarpone ice cream. What amazed me about this dessert was the herbal hit on my tongue when I took a bite of that peach. The mascarpone ice cream adds a creamy, tangy richness to the peach. It’s touches upon the idea of sweet meets savory.
I went for the sheep’s milk cheesecake with summer berries and lemon verbena. The cheesecake was delicately tangy, sweet and light. The berries and the sorbet added a sharp tartness to the dessert.
This tied up the end of a good meal. The food was a lot better than what I’ve experienced a year ago. To compare this experience with Gramercy Tavern from two days ago, Gramercy rocked but it felt a bit chaotic with so many people around compared to EMP’s tranquil atmosphere.
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010