Enjoying a Service Nirvana at Eleven Madison Park

An Afternoon Worth Spending at Chef Daniel Humm’s Flatiron 3-Michelin Star Restaurant

I was recently given one of the best gifts I have ever received from a very old friend of mine. The gift came in a box in March and to my pleasant surprise it was a gift voucher for me to spend a night at Four Seasons New York City and a lavish meal at Eleven Madison Park. I cannot deny the fact that I am spoiled right after this particular trip to the Big Apple.

I am a novice when it comes to fine dining, especially by having been living a broke student life for quite a while. Back in Bangkok, I enjoyed visiting nice restaurants so this gift reminds me how much I miss eating good and being pampered.

Eleven Madison Park is a 3-Michelin Star restaurant run by Chef Daniel Humm, a native of Switzerland. He has been a hot commodity, so hot that It was very difficult to get a table without having to make a reservation when the slot is available online. I intended to go for dinner but only lunch was available. The slots are available 29 days in advance through phone reservation and opentable website.

I was entitled a guest to go with me to the restaurant so I decided to bring my parents who came over for a visit from Thailand. I decided to make it a birthday/graduation celebration and I was not let down, especially for the service.

The Reception of Eleven Madison Park where we were greeted by the Maître d’

This was waiting for me at the table when we were sat down, a personalized card with a Happy Birthday and Congratulations message. I don’t know how they managed to write my name in Thai – a good surprise factor.

Here, there is no menu from which you can order from. The menu consists of a list of ingredients for the day and you choose whether you would like to go for a four course menu or a tasting menu. We opted for a tasting menu, which we were informed that it was going to be 3-4 hours long!

Me and my glass of Val de Mer Chablis

Chef Humm’s Take on New York Traditional Cookies. Who would have guessed it to be salty!

Quail Egg with Bacon on Biscuits, nothing very special about them. Tasted like Thai quail egg we had since we were young.

Apple Tea with a hint of I believe to be Rosemary. The flavor was pretty intense.

Chickpea Panisse with Yogurt. First impression: tastes like steamed Thai curry paste with seafood with kaffir leaves.

Yogurt Lollipops with Curry. This tastes like really strong and salty cheese.

Smoked Sturgeon Sabayon with Chive Oil served in egg shells. Softly whipped, you can feel tenderness in the mouth. However, I find this to be too salty. It would be perfect if they can move the saltiness down a notch.

Seafood Showcase. The clam chowder soup was served in a pot on heated rocks, pretty neat.

Lobster Madelines. Not much taste, quite buttery.

Clambake with Apple. Love the detailed decoration. It tastes HEAVENLY , easily one of the most delightful pieces of this lunch. I love the refreshing aftertaste, it goes so well with the crunchy fresh Manila clam.

Clambake with Potato and Chorizo. This is also HEAVENLY, the creaminess of the potatoes is just amazing. Bravo to Chef Humm for this creation, my personal favorite.

Lobster Fritte. Crunchy and actually tastes like lobster. This one was my dad’s favorite. It is definitely better than the Madelines.

New England Clam Chowder. Very nice and not too creamy but once again I think this is too salty. I actually asked the waiter if the food here is supposed to be salty. The waiter said he would inform the kitchen to tone the next dishes down. We must have had more than five different waiters serving our table. They were everywhere to the point that I felt like there were more waiters and patrons. The service is just…excellent.

After a wonderful series of Amuse Bouche, we were introduced to the main courses, started off by these delicious breads served in a pouch with salt, two kinds of butter: goat and cow. The outer part of the bread is flaky and crunchy while the inside is very soft and buttery. It is a true artisan bread especially when eaten warm.

We started off our first main course very nicely with Asparagus Poached with Quail Egg, Shad Roe, and Rye. The asparagus was perfectly cooked – very tender. The semi-creamy sauce blended with quail egg tasted very delicate.

I am not very much an internal organ person but I definitely could not pass up this Foie Gras Cured with Buckwheat, Buttermilk, and Lemon. I found it more pleasant to eat all the ingredients together, meaning a little bit of the herb, the sauce, and the Foie Gras. The Foie Gras’ texture was quite delicate and did not smell at all. A 5 out of 5 from a not-normally-Foie Gras person!

I love the creativity and color of this third main course; Whey, Fresh Curds, Caraway Gnocchi, and Spring Herbs. When the dish was served to us it appeared to be like a normal spring salad. We did not see the gnocchi that was buried under the herbs. The waiter then poured over the whey tea to complete the presentation. This reminds me of the late spring atmosphere when the last spring flowers withered into a pond. Love the idea of edible flowers. The taste of the tea is very strong as it is supposed to, being a by product of milk used in producing cheese. It is very contrasty with the gentle taste of the gnocchi. All in all, very sophisticated taste.

This Lobster Poached with Meyer Lemon, Burnt Leek and Shellfish Bisque is definitely my most favorite main course of the day. The lobster is extremely fresh, the crunchy black stuff from the leek is actually very good. It actually made me forget about how burnt food can cause you cancer for a while. One tiny bit to complain is again, the saltiness of the sauce. I am not really sure if the black sauce was supposed to be that salty.

I would not know how to describe this Beef Roasted with Wood Sorrel and Marble Potatoes as I do not eat beef (I know…). This beautifully decorated dish belonged to my dad as he is a real beef person. According to him, this dish was pretty amazing.

To replace the beef, I was treated to this Braised Pork Cheeks with Peas, Acorn, and Guanciale. Look at the texture, they must have spent a long time to make this pork so tender. As for the taste, I was not overly impressed by it as it tastes like my mom’s roasted pork. She was a bit proud with that 🙂 However, I still admire this creation with the choice of texture and color. Well done!

The main course was ended by the introduction of this Chueflada with Pickled Mustard Seeds and Pearl Onions. This Chueflada cheese was imported straight from Chef Humm’s homeland. The cheese was quite strong especially when coupled with mustard seeds, it lasted in my mouth even after the meal was over, even after dessert!

To wash away the strong taste in the mouth and prepare us to the sweeter side of the afternoon, we were treated to the frizzy Egg Cream, prepared in front of us by the restaurant’s section manager.

Egg Cream with Orange, Cocoa Nib and Seltzer. I actually enjoyed this a lot. There was a hint of orange and cocoa. The frizzy water gave it a pleasant twist.

Cheesecake with Goat Cheese, Cara Cara Orange, and Vanilla. This dessert is in my opinion pretty innovative in terms of ingredients, the goat cheese made it very special. The strawberry sorbet and orange layer helped tone the goat cheese taste down. A very interesting non-traditional cheesecake indeed.

At this point, we were so full but I could not pass on an opportunity for Lavender, Mint Tea, my two all time favorite tea leaves/flowers. I was not disappointed.

Happy Birthday to me, the course ended with this sophisticated Sorbet with Caramelized Cocoa Pastry, Meyer Lemon, and Olive Oil. The pastry was rich and bitter which I think complimented the Meyer Lemon Sauce really well. The crunchy pastry and the sauce produced a different feeling from the traditional dessert texture.

The last present from the restaurant, the traditional New York cookies, this time they are sweet – no more surprises.

The Food: The highlight for me is the clambake and the lobster main course, 5 out of 5 for Chef Humm. The turn off is definitely the saltiness of the food. I love the decoration, the texture and the use of ingredients: Food in the artform.

The Service: Only one word to describe: Amazing. You will be in good and gentle hands at Eleven Madison Park. the table is cleaned every time after flaky foods are served. They pull the chair in and out for you. They make the intimidating and formal atmosphere into caring and warm atmosphere. Excellent service that is definitely hard to beat. It was a great experience just to be there. In fact, I think the service is better than the food.

Overall: I LOVE this restaurant. Thank you to my friend who treated me with such gift, very good choice of restaurant. I am already looking forward to the next visit. This time, will do dinner ❤

4 Course Lunch Menu – $74 per person
Lunch Tasting Menu – $125 per person

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010
212.889.0905 http://www.elevenmadisonpark.com

All photos are copyrighted.


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