Restaurant review: Eleven Madison Park (NYC)

Last weekend Alli and I traveled to New York City for a long holiday weekend. It was also Valentine’s Day, and independently we both love good food, so what better excuse to eat at a fun new (for us) restaurant?

I wanted to try a high-end place, but one we had not been to in the past. We had already been to most of the famous landmarks, some together, some separately. Places like Daniel, Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, Gramercy Tavern, etc are excellent, but already done. And you know how I feel about Per Se from a past post.
So I did some research, talked to some friends (foodie and otherwise), and noted that Eleven Madison Park had the top NY Times rating, which the above places share, but not a lot of other restaurants in the city. Less than a handful, in fact. So off we go…
The place is beautiful. Super-high cathedral ceilings, huge windows, modern decor. Flowers very similar in style those famous ones in the lobby of the Hotel George V where we stayed in Paris last June.
Our reservations were for 10pm, we showed up on time, and we were welcomed right away by a gracious hostess. Another helper took our coats, and directed us to the bar. We ordered a drink, and our table was ready for dinner right about when we got the drink, a few minutes later.
Dinner was prix fixe for Valentine’s Day, and expensive. Not as expensive as Per Se, but more than the most expensive places in Boston for sure. I’ll list it out, since I have the menu in front of me, and I want to have a reference.
It reads a little bit like a foodie’s buzzword bingo, so I apologize 😉 But it was delicious, all of it. The foie gras and lobster stood out. The wine pairings, which were good, are in parenthesis.
Sterling Royal Caviar in a sphere of smoked sturgeon cream.
Porcini mushroom veloute with Parmigiano-Reggiano (Billecart-Simon, Brut Reserve, Campagne, France).
Foie Gras terrine with golden pineapple, pickled pearl onions, and rum-raisin brioche (Yves Cuilerron, Rousilliere, Rhone Valley, France 2007.)
Bouillabaisse: Dover sole with Bouchot mussels, bay scallops, Hawaiian blue prawns, and chorizo (Bruna, Le Russeghine, Riviera di Ponente, Liguria, Italiy, 2007.)
Nova Scotia lobster, slow cooked with winter citrus, pickled daikon radish, and avocado oil (Huet, Le Mont Semi-Sec, Vouvray, Loire Valley, France 2005.)
Organic chicken, roasted with leeks, celery root, and black truffles (Belle Pente, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2007.)
“Pink roses:” strawberries, white chocolate, and kaffir lime (Giacomo Bologna, Brachetto d’Acqui, Piedmont, Italy 2007.)
The pacing was excellent. Not rushed, not too slow.
The service was very good. Patient, friendly, smiling, knowledgeable.
The wine pairings were good, but not amazing. The restaurant has an astonishing wine list, 50+ pages in a nice leather-bound volume, with plenty of rarities. I think they were for interest and curiosity with the dinner pairings, and one of them (the Roussiliere) absolutely shined. The others were just OK: good wines, decent pairings, but a missed opportunity to inspire.
All, in all, Eleven Madison Park was a beautiful place to have an excellent meal. I don’t regret going there, but I’m not sure I’d be in a rush to go again. Not when Per Se is in town 😉