Eleven Madison Park Restaurant
11 Madison Avenue, New York, United States
While Melbourne’s weather lately hasn’t lived up to the summer season, there has been a drought of posts here on My Food Trail! I’m touched that people have been wondering where I am. It still amazes me that I have loyal readers who take time out of their days to read my humble little blog… thanks a million!
Life has gotten in the way of my blogging lately and to be honest, with everything that has been going on, I haven’t felt much like blogging. However, I couldn’t let 2010 pass without posting about my best meal of the year. I feel sad I haven’t gotten around to blogging about all the fantastic restaurants I visited in America in April, but while it might no longer be relevant, I’ll always have the photos to remind me and hope to eventually blog about them all.
New York City is known as one of the eating capitals of the world and I was very excited to try as many different places as I could on my trip. I did my research and made a long, long list of restaurants to visit, but we were only there for 8 days so I couldn’t visit them all. I knew I wanted to do one “splurge” meal but I couldn’t decide so I got hubby to choose between Le Bernardin, Per Se, Daniel and Eleven Madison Park. I really wanted to go to Per Se, but in the end we couldn’t justify the $700 plus it would have cost us for a degustation and drinks.
Hubby chose Le Bernardin (I shall blog about that meal another time) but I still wanted to go to Eleven Madison Park because of the great reviews. Eleven Madison Park made it to number 50 in the San Pellegrino’s 2010 World’s Best 50 Restaurants list. The lunch was very reasonably priced at only $28 for 2 courses and $42 for 3 courses so I made a booking for our last lunch in New York. Prices have since gone up, now $56 for 3 courses and $74 for 4 courses at lunch.
Eleven Madison Park is located across the road from Madison Square Park. We went in mid April so the beautiful tulips were in full bloom. The restaurant itself has a very elegant feel, with the grandiose high ceilings and massive windows that let in a lot of natural light. We felt like we were in a very nice fine dining restaurant, but without the stuffy, uptight atmosphere. The impeccable service of the staff added to our great experience.
We were given some mini bread rolls, gougeres (savoury choux pastry with cheese) and canapés to start off with. I can’t remember what the canapés were, though I recall the waiter mentioning foie gras and thought it was great that we were getting a complimentary canapé with foie gras!
The menu didn’t seem to have a clear distinction between entrées and mains, so we asked the waiter whether we could have three savoury courses. There was a choice of 16 different dishes which all sounded good. The serves are a decent size and by the end of the meal we were full, but not too full.
I started with the Balik salmon which was beautifully presented with the white asparagus, shards of salmon skin and salmon caviar. Balik salmon is considered to be one of the best smoked salmon in the world, using a traditional salmon smoking method as practiced at the court of Russian tsars. The dish tasted as exquisite as it looked.
Hubby had the linguini for his first course which was served with a generous amount of Alaskan King crab. The sauce was so simple, but yet so tasty and the pasta was perfectly al dente.
I chose the spaetzle for my second course. Spaetzle is a type of German soft egg noodle. I’ve never had it before but I really enjoyed the slightly chewy texture with the mustard sauce. The pork belly tasted more like cured bacon than cooked pork belly. Niman Ranch is the San Francisco farm where the pork belly comes from.
Hubby’s second course was the fregola sarda, which is a type of pasta resembling the large Israeli couscous. It’s made from coarse semolina so the texture is different. The veal sweetbreads were deep fried and hubby loved it! We’ve had sweetbread again since then, but the one at Eleven Madison Park was so much better… probably because it was deep fried!
My last course was the bouillabaisse. There was a beautifully cooked piece of black bass sitting on top of a delicious broth. I don’t actually like mussels or clams but hubby happily ate them for me. I like the addition of the small chorizo pieces.
Hubby’s last course was the lamb, which resembled a sausage. The lamb was so tender and the selection of vegetables to accompany the dish was interesting.
We couldn’t fit in any desserts, though I thought it was smart of the restaurant to offer a selection of cakes and tarts on a trolley so we were very tempted! One of the waiters who refilled our water glasses asked us whether we enjoyed our meal and I said we absolutely loved it and would have liked to come back for dinner. He said could arrange a dinner booking for us but I said unfortunately we are leaving New York the next morning. A short while later, a plate of mini macarons were brought to us with a message of Bon Voyage! I thought it was such a nice, unexpected surprise – the perfect end to a perfect meal.
I wish we had gone to Eleven Madison Park earlier in our stay in New York so we could go back for a second time! This was definitely our best meal in America and our best meal in 2010. Every dish was fantastic and the first rate service and the special touch at the end of the meal made it a memorable experience.
Over & Out, April xx