The 6th of June 2011 is a day to remember – it is the day I set foot on Eleven Madison Park.
Having tried Daniel and Per Se earlier that week, I went to EMP with an expectant but somewhat skeptical attitude – expectant because I have read raving reviews; skeptical because I did not believe that EMP will beat Daniel and Per Se given its inferior accolade in the Michelin world (3-star: Daniel, Per Se; 1-star: EMP).
[LEFT] EMP at 5PM
[RIGHT] EMP at 11PM
The restaurant boasts high ceiling which allowed generous amounts of light to fill the elegant restaurant while the large beautiful vases of flowers gave me a somewhat cosy feeling. And yes, our dining experience lasted 6 hours – possibly the longest by far! But there was never a dull moment.
MINIMALIST GRID – This is the famous EMP menu grid – each ingredient represents the principle ingredient which the chef uses in the dish after considering any dietary restrictions and special requests made by you. How innovative!
We eventually decided to go for the tasting menu simply because we could not make up our minds and wanted everything!
GOAT CHEESE lollipop with beets; croquette with watercress and chive – My heart leapt like that of a 5-year old when I saw the beautiful lollipops before me! And the best thing was it tasted way better than my memory of lollipops when I was a child – it was simply AMAZING and to me, the most memorable dish of the day.
BROCCOLI variations with parmesan, lemon and lardo – I never imagined I would ever enjoy broccoli the way I did that night! The parmesan was a very good accompaniment to the broccoli as it gave the dish body and some great flavors.
CHEF DANIEL HUMM – a young, talented chef (and cute, too!). The photo on the left was taken when he stopped by the table next to mine….when he finally came over to mine, I managed to strike a decent conversation with him despite how nervous/excited I was! Casual stuff…he asked about Les Amis in Singapore and I told him about how delighted I was to meet him in person. I guess excitement/enthusiasm was written all over my face because he chose to spring us a little surprise later that evening. (oh yes! of course I had a photo with him )
EGG CREAM malt, vailla and olive oil – skillfully executed at our table. The drink is sweet, a little gassy (due to soda water), quite milky and very interesting – a good prelude to our desert course.
THE SURPRISE – while waiting for our mignardises, one of the waiters came to our table and asked if they could have the pleasure to invite us to their kitchen for a tour – OH MY!! The kitchen was spanking clean and well organized….they even have a Team Vision framed and hung on the wall! One of the desert chef made some sorbet for us and it was my first time seeing how liquid nitrogen is used in the kitchen! The kitchen tour was a real eye-opener and I recall telling myself how great it would be if I can be part of the team there someday
SENCHA & MIGNARDISES – We ordered sencha to go with our petit fours. It was interesting that they brewed the tea from scratch at our tables – complete with description and explanation of the significance of each step. This caught us by surprise because we didn’t expect an American waiter in a French restaurant teaching us how to make Japanese tea?! Way cool. The mignardises were delightful but frankly we were quite full.
Needless to say – the service was impeccable throughout. The entire dining experience was beyond my wildest dream and definitely surpassed my Daniel and Per Se experience. To sum it all up – the best meal of my life.
P.S: EMP has since been awarded 3 Stars in the latest Michelin Guide – well deserved, Chef Humm!
Eleven Madison Park (Reservations required – try to book 1 month in advance)
Add: 11 Madison Ave., NYC 10010
Lunch: Monday–Friday, noon–2:00p.m
Dinner: Monday–Saturday, 5:30 p.m.–10:00p.m
Closed on Sundays.
Spend: Approximate USD250 per pax (Tasting Menu, with 2 cocktails and 1 tea)