I just came back from a very busy Tuesday night Restaurant Week dinner at Eleven Madison. It was my first time there and I must admit it is an impressively place. And, the service began very well. We were asked to wait at the bar and immediately found a cozy booth there. We were served very generous glasses of $5 cote du rhone which was fine. When we inquired about a cheese puff h'orderve, we were offered a complementary sample.
We were soon seated at our table. Things did not progess well from there. Our waitress seemed hurried and nervous...obviously new or "B" list staff. She did not offer us a wine list at all and, getting it all backwards, asked that our desert order be placed with the rest of our order.
My friend and I both had the cold "mushroom flan" which we agreed tasted like something our Jewish grandmothers would prepare for special guests, along side boiled chicken with ketchup and stale rye bread. The second course was mahi mahi with breaded, fried salsify and baby bok choy. This was served in some sort of corn-starchy, brown gravy that was crusted around the edges from being under a heat lamp. This also reminded my friend and I of our childhood...vaguely of Swanson's brown gravy. The fish itself was bland with a few threads of taragon on top of it. The whole dish was an ill attempt at subtlty. And too small! The best thing about the meal was the generous pouring of $5-a-glass cote du rhone and the nice dim lighting.
Towards the end of the meal, as we lingered over our last few sips of cheap wine, our waitress began frantically grabbing at the check. I gazed enviously over at my neighbor's grilled scallops (off the regular menu).