Restaurants & Bars

Manhattan

Eleven Madison Park - OUTSTANDING!!!

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Eleven Madison Park - OUTSTANDING!!!

Tiny Robinson | Feb 20, 2006 03:59 PM

After near-universal praise on this board, I decided to take the plunge and eat at EMP Saturday evening. As described, the space, with its elevated ceilings, evokes grand old New York. I initially experienced trepidation when we were seated near the door (it was an extraordinarily cold night), it never was an issue.

Many have described the service as loquacious, and while I didn't find this to be the case I was still quite pleased. Our server was quite cheerful, but very understated, and the runners/busboys were consistently friendly.

The real star, however, was the food. My mother began with the frisee salad and, while I did not try it (a little difficult to share a green salad, no?) she was quite pleased. My father went with the squash chowder which was stunningly complex with the initial sweetness of the squash nicely matched by the chunks of lobster and earthy vegetables. The flavor then did a 180, finishing with burgundy-like kick. Really nice. However, I thought my escargot ravioli was a bit of a misstep. The ravioli came fried and placed over a parsley-based cream sauce. While each individual component was solid, I thought that aggregate richness of the fried shell of the ravioli combined with the cream in the sauce was too overwhelming. It would have done better, I think, if the ravioli was blanched instead of fried. In fact, I liked the dish much better when I removed the very fresh-tasting escargot from their oily container and just dipped them in the sauce.

The entrees more than made up for any discord in my appetizer. My mother, father, and I ordered the arctic char, duck, and short ribs respectively. While all three were delicious in their own right, I would rank the entrees as I placed them above, in descending order. The arctic char was stunning. I have never been a fan of char (or salmon, for that matter), but upon tasting it, I was beset by jealousy. The fish was cooked to a perfect medium rare and was accented by hints of garlic. The fish was served over what tasted like a white bean puree, and its creaminess really brought out the tenderness of the fish. What a synergy when eaten together! My father's duck was cooked simply but perfectly, allowing the savoriness of the meat to really shine. It was paired with some sort of dumpling which he gobbled up before I could taste it! My short rib was fine as well, braised to an unbelievably tender level so that my knife was rendered superfluous. I'm glad I removed the dollop of garlic butter that came placed overtop, as the meat's natural juices needed no such accompaniment. The shortribs were served with matchstick potatoes and broccoli rabe. Both were fine though I preferred the latter.

Based on a prior recommendation, I had the peanut butter crisp. I wasn't certain I could deal with more richness in my meal, but the peanut butter filling, chocolate sauce poured table side, and bits of toffee persuaded me otherwise. I ended up eating the entire thing easily! There was also some sort of dessert amuse served; mini not-to-sweet chocolate cakes, with a delightful sour cherry inside. I think our table receieved 5 and I ate four!

Everyone, thanks so much for the suggestion. As soon as I start drawing an adequate paychekc, there's a strong chance I become a regular!

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