My (Early) Birthday Lunch at Eleven Madison Park

They personalized it
They personalized it

Back last Wednesday (my actual birthday was yesterday, Sunday), I splurged my own lunch early for my birthday at Eleven Madison Park. I remembered liking this place a lot when I visited here over a year ago (for their tasting menu, not counting Restaurant Week) and I’m still hearing raves about the food.

Floral arrangements
Elegant flowers

So, I thought it’s about time to come back to this place since this place is suited for special occasions and/or business lunches. The latter is more predominant when I went there. Almost every table, people were dressed in suits. I only spotted one party with a casual look (i.e. nice jeans and shirt) toward the latter end of my two-hour lunch. Despite of what seems like a corporate crowd, the conversations were still lively.

Amuse Bouche
Amuse Bouche

Going all out for my birthday, I ordered the Gourmand menu which started with the amuse bouche of a bold lobster bisque, with a small disc of crab meat and chestnuts. Taking a spoon of each element, I never thought of a soup ever being so intense, melding so well with the sweet crab meat and the crunchy chestnuts playing as little high notes to this symphony of flavors. All I could think of was “Wow.”

Picholine olive & rosemary mini baguette Butter and salt
Picholine olive mini-baguette and butter and salt

Then we move on to the bread service, where I chose a picholine olive mini-baguette served along with their unsalted butter. The bread was noticeably of better quality than what I had from the previous visits – über crisp crust meets salty, moist crumb. The unsalted butter from Vermont was very soft, creamy and spreadable. I would eat the entire thing but I needed to save room for the remaining six courses.

Garden potatoes
Garden Potatoes

The first course, garden potatoes with Balik salmon and watercress, was quite amazing. The tiny, baby, confitted potatoes, draped with thick slices of Balik salmon, small mounds of salty salmon roe with a small swath of potato foam. The potato foam was lightener of all the heady components of the dish while the saltiness of the salmon was balanced out by the potatoes.

Foie gras terrine with golden pineapple
Foie gras terrine with golden pineapple

Moving on to one of my favorite courses, the foie gras terrine with golden pineapple served along with a lightly toasted round of rum-raisin brioche and pineapple curd topped with pineapple foam was a dish that’s reached to orgasmic proportions. If you do like foie gras, this is one of the best examples served in New York City. The creamy, earthy liver contrasted with the acidic and sweet pineapple cubes. Topping it with the accompanied rum-raisin brioche and the pineapple curd and foam, it lightens the denseness of the foie gras.

Rum-raisin brioche and pineapple curd and foam
Brioche and pineapple curd and foam

Maine Diver Scallops and Hawaiian Prawns
Close up of the Maine Diver Scallops and Hawaiian Prawns

The seafood course was the Maine diver scallops and Hawaiian prawns with cauliflower and crustacean jus. I never thought of seafood being so sweet. The diver scallop was beautifully caramelized and the prawns were perfectly cooked. Both were intensely saccharine that it astounded my mind. The cauliflower played along the sweetness of the seafood, as well as adding a subtle crunchy note.

The suckling pig of my dreams
The suckling pig of my dreams

I’ve requested to substitute the Four Story Hill Poussin dish with the Vermont Suckling Pig Confit with Cipollini onions, plum chutney, and five spice jus, since I remember eating the former the last time I tried their Gourmand menu. Thankfully, there weren’t any issues substituting that dish. Anyway, this is the suckling pig of my dreams. The crisp, crackly pig skin meets fork-tender, sweet pork meat, adding the caramelized Cipollini onion and plum chutney created fireworks on my tongue. I think tears were about to well up in my eyes as I ate it. It’s no question that it is and meant to be the signature dish of EMP.

Milk chocolate palette with Bosc pears and Chestnuts
Milk chocolate palette

I finally moved on to dessert. By now, my stomach is saying to me “I’m full” but I can’t refuse dessert. Actually, I don’t think I ever have. Anyway, this milk chocolate palette with Bosc pears and chestnuts was good but wasn’t as remarkable as the savory courses were. The palate was crisp and the Bosc pears and chestnuts added some dimension to the sweetness and crunch to the dessert but it lacked that “wow” factor.


To conclude this two-hour lunch fest, I was bestowed with a long, narrow dish of mignardes. They’re two sets of miniature, bite-sized cookies – a wee raspberry chocolate macaron, pistachio-raspberry financier, a butter cookie filled with lemon curd and a rich chocolate peanut butter cup. Frankly, I liked the mignardes more than the dessert I had earlier.

After finishing my mignardes, I asked for the check and paid and strolled my way out, astounded about this amazingly delicious meal.

Eleven Madison Park

11 Madison Avenue (off of 24th Street)
New York, NY 10010 (map)


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.

  1. Parisien1 says:

    “Happy Birthday, Tina!” Wishing you days of kindness, joy, love & happiness ahead. And many more…

  2. dbdtron says:

    It’s a great room–I’ll have to revisit now that the current chef has had time to settle in. When I last went with my wife, we were underwhelmed, but I assume that had to do with a changing of the guard at the time…

    But as always, DM’s restaurants have gracious service and excellent rooms/ambience.

    And those treats at the end (when you feel like you are about to explode) are just great at the end…!

    Happy Birthday Tina!

    best, dbdtron

  3. MikeyV says:

    Happy bday :)

    I was wondering did you go alone? If so, how accepting/comfortable did you feel in the environment… also… and this might be too “forward” but could you give me an estimate of the total (did this include any alcohol?)

    Just wondering because there are many times where I find myself wanting to make a splurge like this on myself to celebrate an occasion and am tired of not being able to find anyone to accompany me (or at least no one being able to afford to accompany me)…

  4. thewanderingeater says:

    Parisien1: Thank you for the birthday wishes!

    dbtron: I don’t know when you actually went there when Chef Humm took over the helms of EMP but I guess it is the time issue.

    Yes, Danny Meyer restaurants are always have gracious and impeccable service and the atmosphere is wonderful.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes! :D

    VeggieGirl: Ditto! :)

    MikeyV: Thanks.

    I went there solo. The Gourmand (tasting) menu was $58 pre-tax, so I paid a little over $72 after tax and tip. (You may find the menu by Googling it or clicking on their name when I mentioned it the first time.) No alcohol since I have to haul my butt back to work.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Happy birthday, tina!!! i’ve only been to eleven madison once and it was a business lunch so i didn’t pay. your pictures, as always, look beautiful. i’m ready to shell out $72 for that suckling pig alone!

  6. Nicole says:

    I’m pretty young and don’t do a ridiculous amount of eating at gourmet restaurants but that sounds like a pretty fantastic deal to me! Awesome pictures!

  7. Warm Bunny says:

    Thank you for “sharing the meal” with us. I am impressed with this menu and the presentation. I wish we had a restaurant like this in Rochester, NY.

  8. thewanderingeater says:

    joan nova: Thank you!

    Jonathan: Thanks for the birthday wishes and the compliment! :)

    HAHA…! I would shell out the a la carte price of $35. But still it’s worth every penny.

    Su-Lin: It was and it’s worth it. :)

    sweetbird: Oh yeah…

    Nicole: Thanks!

    Warm Bunny: You’re welcome! Thanks for reading! :)

  9. thewanderingeater says:

    Danny: Thanks for both! :)

    Yam: Thank you! Thanks for reading and de-lurking! :D

    Joie de vivre: I like your “name.” lol. They all were. [sighs]

  10. MikeyV says:

    awesome thanks for the reply!!! I’ll definitely have to give it a try… i just checked out the menu online and it seems like a steal for the price…

    and p.s. i just remembered I was the guy that made that pumpkin pie oh-my for you at shake shack!!!

    i don’t work there anymore unfortunately (it was probably one of the best jobs i’ve had…) Now i’m working at Sony doing boring clerical stuff, but I’m trying to go to culinary school and become a chef (even though i’ve graduated with a B.S. in computer science lol…) I totally miss the shack though :( but at least now i make enough money to actually be able to try and eat at EMP and such :)

  11. thewanderingeater says:

    MikeyV: Oohh…Hi! [waves] :D

    I do think it’s a great price for what was served and the level of service.

    Hey, you’re talking to a girl who graduated with a B.S. in Legal Studies, working in a hospital doing clerical/admin stuff yet has a huge obsession with food and photography. It’s not weird.

    Good luck in culinary school and your path to chefdom!

  12. thewanderingeater says:

    MikeyV: Oohh…Hi! [waves] :D

    I do think it’s a great price for what was served and the level of service.

    Hey, you’re talking to a girl who graduated with a B.S. in Legal Studies, working in a hospital doing clerical/admin stuff yet has a huge obsession with food and photography. It’s not weird.

    Good luck in culinary school and your path to chefdom!

  13. Mitzy says:

    Happy birthday (again) Tina! :-)

    Your reviews about the foie gras and the suckling pig make me want to go to EMP soon, how I wish I live in the city…

  14. cat says:

    If you ever come to santa fe.
    please check: Encantado auberge resort.

    chef charles dale with chef barkley
    has an amazing food.

    you’re picture are kinda similar with his

    service and foods are excellent.
    what an amazing sunset view while your having cocktail.
    about 15 miles from santa fe.

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