Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
Flatiron

May 31, 2017

EMP is my favorite three star Michelin restaurant in New York. As I am turning 25 and finishing up my student life this May, I had the perfect excuse to make another visit before it closes for renovation in June. Given all these, I thought I better pluck out a hair in remembrance at this point. This post is not merely to document EMP’s transition for the past few years, but also my own retrospective of dinning experiences in what I now observed more and absorbed more.

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Cheddar – Savory black and white cookie with apple

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Morel – Custard with trout roe and mustard flowers

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English Peas – With buffalo yogurt and spring garlic

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Radish – With pike and nasturtium

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Egg Benedict – Ham, asparagus, and caviar

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Hudson Valley Foie Gras – Marinated, with white asparagus, orange blossom, and chamomile

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Carrot – Tartare with rye bread and condiments

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Lobster – Butter-poached, with dandelion and ginger

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Asparagus – Braised, with potato and black truffle

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Spring Veal – Dry-aged, with ramps, lettuce, and bone marrow

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Farmer’s Cheese – With honey, rhubarb, and granola

Whey – Sorbet, yogurt, milk jam, and milk

Strawberry – Poached, with vanilla and elderflower

Pretzel – Chocolate covered with sea salt

Chocolate – Sweet black and white cookie with lemon verbena

During my very first visit, we had an elaborate four-hour tasting menu that set out to celebrate highlights of New York City history. The two kinds of black and white cookies were just some more obvious tricks among. Egg and caviar, an old school luxury, was infallibly spectacular serving in a tin can. This right amount of high-low culture was the essential Manhattan chic they are trying to embody. There was a lot of French influenced cooking, especially for the main course park (butter poached lobster and braised asparagus). Dishes were all executed well out of the ordinary, and very clarifying in their personality. The almost feeling endless desserts made the end of the meal something to look forward to and look back on.

10/2016

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Black and White – Savory cookie with apple and cheddar

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Mushroom, Tarte with black truffle, Hen of the woods with amaranth and horseradish, pickled with apple and shallot, Beignet with black truffle

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Carviar – Benedict with potato, leek, and hollandaise

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Foie Gras – Seared with brussel sprouts and lemon
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Crab – with sea urchin, kohlrabi, and apple

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Honeynut – Squash with sage and cinnamon

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Striped Bass – Poached with fennel and clams

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Lobster – Butter-poached with rutabaga and pear

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Celery Root – Braised with black truffle

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Venison – Grilled with onion and blood sausage

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Duck – Honey and lavender glazed with turnip and huckleberry

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Pear – Sorbet with caramelized white chocolate and riesling

Chocolate – Tuile with creme fraiche ice cream and mulled wine

Cheddar – Tart with apple and mixed greens

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Chocolate – “Name that milk”

Pretzel with sea salt, Iced matcha

Last year, a more costly but shorter menu was introduced. This move means that there was no room for error, and not surprisingly, there was no error. They have succeeded building a sense of casualness within an sophisticated context.

The starting small bites were all inexplicably delicious. Every bite packed huge range of nuance and power. Few classics remained, such as caviar, spice-dusted duck, and vegetable braised in a pig’s bladder (this time globes of celery root). The execution was undeniably nice and neat. Last time’s card game turned into a puzzle game on matching milk origins with dark chocolate bars. A breezy touch to the fine dining experience. Servers were deeply attentive to details as always. And I got a hand illustrated card welcoming me back from Paris. I was spoiled in a way that I could and have imagined anything I like during the meal.

05/2017

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Gougeres with grated gruyere 2006

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Sea-urchin cappuccino with peekytoe crab and cauliflower 2006

“Our first amuse-bouche and a guest favorite.”

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Little Neck Clam, clambake with veloute and parker house rolls 2011

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Prawn Roulade with avocado and yogurt 2007

“This dish was extremely temperamental and had a lengthy process. During this period of EMP, technique was the most important.”

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Foie gras torchon with maple and and pain d’epices 2004

“In many ways it represents all the elements of our new style in its simplicity.”

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Carrot tartare with rye toast and condiments 2012

“This is probably our most talked-about dish due to its innovation and unexpected nature.”

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Turbot, poached with zucchini and squash blossom 2007

“This dish pays homage to the scaling technique of Frédy Girardet and Joël Robuchon, and was imitated in the movie Burnt.”

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Winter in Provence, celery root, black truffle, chevre frais and potato 2009

 “Although the summers are most famous, the winters have amazing ingredients as well. This dish pushed innovation by exploring textures and questioning what guests think food should be.”

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Suckling Pig Confit of Shoulder with Onions and Rhubarb 

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Chicken poached with black truffles, potato and asparagus 2010

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Milk and honey with dehydrated milk foam and bee pollen 2010

This dish links directly to Humm’s childhood memories of when his mother used to serve him warm milk with honey as a before-bed treat. 

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Chocolate palette with peanut butter and popcorn ice cream 2008

“The saltiness played really nicely with the chocolate and peanut butter and this dessert was extremely popular.”

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Mignardises 2007

“Back when we were trying to earn our fourth star we looked at all the four star restaurants in the city and noticed that they had certain things in common, like ending their meals with a large plate of mignardises. This led us to create our own version.”

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Port Tong

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EMP have started an eleven course retrospective menu since April. This time, it’s about serving old gems from the old menu. The new mantra is the classics.

The meal was a pure indulgence. Sea-urchin cappuccino tasted like mashup of dreams. Little Neck Clam starter represented the climax of experiential dining for its fleetingness – I was hit by a quick rush of saltiness that lingers first in my nostrils then mouth, followed by a concealed wave of sweetness and sourness. A very dramatic evocation. Turbot was poached nearly as soft as the structured texture of cold butter, and paired with zucchini and squash blossom to cut the fishiness. Winter in Provence, my favorite kind of flavor profile, built an evolving earthy and umami complex from celery root, black truffle, and potato. Milk and honey with bee pollen turned out to be the best dessert I had at EMP. It conveyed an rare sweetness that was wrapped in the overwhelming sensation of lightness. An absolutely sweet relief. Mignardises was extravagant. And another hand illustrated card was received, which is the single most considerate gift I got for my 25th birthday.

Today’s EMP is still very focused, highly conscious, and joyfully defying convention. I think comparing with three years ago, it has become more yielding and with an increasing amount of palpable energy. This aged quality can certainly be charming to me or not to somebody else, but one thing sure is that it is keep becoming. EMP is well, and rightly, loved.