Two CHOW editors on a caloric extravaganza exploring innovation, novelty, and deliciousness. RSS
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Organic Precision at Eleven Madison Park

We had a good idea that Eleven Madison Park, headed up by 2010 James Beard Award winner Daniel Humm, was going to be impressive, so we saved it for our last CHOW Tour dinner. And yes, our instincts were dead-on. Interesting nugget: We were told that the restaurant is in a transitional period of moving from extremely fastidious-looking plating, where “everything has its own space on the plate,” to a more organic look, as if the food just blew there on the wind. (Of course, it was meticulously placed just so in the kitchen to look like that.) The new plating could be part of the reason why Eleven Madison Park had an air of casualness while still being a place where every man in the room was wearing a suit—not a sport coat, a suit. Here were some of our favorite things:

The Dining Room
Housed in a high art deco building that was formerly the headquarters of the MetLife insurance company, and directly across from leafy Madison Square Park, it’s got the original earth-colored marble in the foyer, chrome revolving door, and painted bas-relief work on the high ceilings. This unique reuse of space gives the restaurant an air of stateliness with an edge of classic retro that could never be re-created now in such stunning detail.

The Amuse-Bouche
It looked like ornate dollhouse furniture, placed on its silver tiered serving platter, and included a brilliant orange carrot marshmallow dusted with powdered white balsamic vinegar, a tiny teardrop-shaped, deep-fried package of sweetbreads, and a creamy mushroom tartlet.

Mozzarella Ice Cream and Basil Granola
A riff on the classic caprese salad included cores of tomatoes shaped with an apple peeler, mozzarella ice cream (creamy, slightly chewy, better than the nonfrozen original), and a savory granola of Rice Krispies and basil.

Lobster Lasagne
Good-sized, intact joints of lobster meat beneath a few ribbons of wide pasta into which herbs had been pressed. The whole thing was topped with paper-thin shavings of tiny summer squash, and surrounded by a moat of lemon verbena sauce and reddish clarified butter and grapeseed oil that had been infused with lobster shells.

Madeleine Grab Bag
For the mignardises, you get to select as many miniature macarons off a silver tray as you desire. We had chamomile/lemon verbena, peanut butter and jelly, brown butter, and Earl Grey/blackberry.