I had a wonderful dinner at Eleven Madison Park not too long ago. We had the 11-course Gourmand Tasting menu.
1. A new incarnation of the "crab roll," this time the crab salad contained lime and green apple and was rolled in avocado. It's accompanied by a swatch of tangy yogurt.
2. A new presentation of the Nova Scotia Lobster. I can't believe how perfectly cooked the lobster was despite the fact that the broth was served piping hot; the lobster seemed impervious to the heat at the table. Every bite, from start to finish, was equally as succulent. Maybe it was because it was so good I scarfed it down much faster than I realized. While I thought this course was wildly over-salted by itself, the wine pairing put it all in check. This was my favorite wine pairing of the meal (M. Sorrel Hermitage, Rhone Valley, France, 2004, a white Rhone).
3. Duck! Duck! Duck! The server presented the bird, with its plumage of lavender, table-side before whisking it away to be carved and plated. Although I have absolutely no reason to doubt them, I have a hard time believing that the presented bird was the same from which our portions were cut. I am always skeptical of Western preparations of whole duck; the Chinese really do have a knack for the quacker. But, here, the skin was crackling crisp, perfumed with lavender honey and spices (I recall getting a smoky hit of cumin), *and* the breast meat was moist and flavorful; there was just enough fat between the two layers for measured indulgence. How did they do that? I barely needed the rich veal demi glace that was presented. No less impressive was the square of duck confit (obviously prepared separately) topped with an equally crispy sheath of duck crackling. This, above the Cape Cod Baby Crab and the Nova Scotia Lobster, was my favorite course of the evening.
Other notes (forgive me if this is old news):
1. They have a cheese cart now. The selection is somewhat beyond pedestrian, but for the most part, the limited selections were common (Epoisses, Tomme de Berger, Monte Enebro, off the top of my head). It certainly is no match for the enthusiasm and range offered at Picholine, where I dined the following evening. But, this admitted cheese snob was certainly not disappointed; I was just thrilled to see them offering a cheese course.
2. Chef Humm is now in charge of the pastry department. The Vermont Quark Souffle is a must.
Many have said it; I have said it; and I’ll say it again: it’s absolutely absurd that Chef Humm doesn’t have a single Michelin star. Personally, I think he and his staff deserve two. That Humm achieved his first Michelin star when he was 24 (in Switzerland at Gasthaus zum Gupf) has nothing to do with it. Or, it has everything to do with it - he’s now had six more years to progress and excel.
For all the insight and “expertise” that the Michelin Guide Rouge has on the New York dining scene, the omission of Eleven Madison Park from its asterisked list indicates an near-fatal flaw and oversight in their evaluation process. I’ll refrain from making comparisons. Suffice it to say, considering some of the operations that the Michelin has awarded stars to, it’s preposterous that Eleven Madison Park has none. I hope they fix that this year.
Again, if you're up for reading a much (too much?) detailed review, read here: [url=http://ulteriorepicure.wordpress.com/...].