Just got back from a three-day trip that included revisiting some of my favorites and trying some new restaurants.
Highlights: basil-fennel-lemon soda and Milk and Honey
Let me explain, in brief, and keep in mind that EMP is my favorite restaurant in New York. Humm and Guidara's NoMad, alas, just left me so sad: fifteen minutes passed from the time I was seated to the time water was poured; a confit of suckling pig with a impressively bronzed crust lacked even a tincture of salt, and it was served with an unpitted cherry (tsk, tsk); and an affogato had so much granita that it watered down the entire dessert. Fortunately, EMP is only blocks away and can cascade over any unsavory memory with alacrity.
**Eleven Madison Park**
All one can do at a restaurant like EMP is sit back with unalloyed admiration and marvel at the scope of their accomplishments, and that's exactly what we did.
Highlights: the smoked couscous, the mosaic of foie gras and the smoked corn (but honestly you cannot go wrong here; just about anything they put in front of you will be revelatory)
Pr(return): 1 (at this point a jaunt to New York without a trip to EMP just wouldn't seem right)
Food: very good
My photos of said food: terrible (I use a snap and shoot, folks, and their tenebrous dining room didn't make my camera's life especially easy)
Highlights: (1) lobster with Tetilla cheese and tortillas and (2) shrimp with crispy masa and sea urchin mousse
Service: very good (better than I expected, and better than it needs to be)
Food: very good, though neither dish was faultless. Despite coating each bite of lobster with a healthy carapace of burrata, I was still left staring at a large mound on the plate. As for the fusilli, it was delicious, but the portion was Flinstonian: after a half-dozen bites, the bottom of the bowl remained elusive, leaving me wondering if there was some sort of self-replenishing mechanism at play.
Highlights: predictably, the fusilli
Pr(return): low (why, you might ask? See ambiance below)
Ambiance: stuffy. Until lunch at Marea, I never understood what people meant when they referred to a restaurant as stuffy. Well, now I do. It was as if they were embarrassed to have okayed my reservation. They seated me at Table 1, a table that hugs the set of stairs leading into the dining room, a table where no guest walking down those steps into the dining room would have to see the scruffy tatterdemalion who made it through their sieve of affluence. Indeed, my disheveled disposition may explain why I was never offered a look at either the wine or cocktail lists--did they think I had already been drinking at noon on a Wednesday?--and why no one was seated within a two-table proximity of me. I can tell when I'm unwanted, so I didn't bother looking at the dessert menu. Instead, I ambled across Columbus Circle over to Jean-Georges where I enjoyed two desserts!
Highlights: ruby shrimp with uni and the strawberry-themed dessert
Service: very good