Eleven Madison Park

11 Madison Avenue, New York, 10010, United States

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Chef interview

Daniel Humm is head chef of Eleven Madison Park in New York, one of the very few New York restaurants to have a four star review in the New York Times.

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The notes below were from a meal in November 2009.

Danny Meyer has an enviable reputation, with great successes to his name such as Union Square Café and Grammercy Tavern.  He is aiming a little higher in the culinary stakes with Eleven Madison Park, in a building overlooking Madison Park that now houses Credit Suisse on its higher floors.  Chef Daniel Humm had a strong reputation at Campton place in San Francisco, and trained for a time at the three star Pont de Brent.

The ground floor dining room is imposing, with a vaulting ceiling and vast windows looking out onto the park.  A tasting menu was USD 125 with a USD 95 wine pairing. Three courses set you back USD 88.  The 80 page wine list has both lovely producers and some fair mark-ups.  The lovely JJ Prum Spatlese 2006 at USD 80 compares to a retail price of around USD 40.  Trimbach Cuvee Frederich Emile 1996 was listed at USD 180 for a wine that will set you back USD 72 to buy. Didier Dagenau Silex 2006 was USD 265 for a wine that costs USD 135 in the shops.  Guigal La Mouline 1998 at USD 998 is only a little more than twice the USD 441 you will pay in a shop, while the terrific Mas de Daumas Gassac 1982 at USD 295 compares to a retail price of around 125.  It is interesting that corkage is just $35 per bottle if you bring your own wines, which seems quite fair to me.  Bread was a choice of pleasant mini baguettes, and olive and rosemary bread from Pain d’Avignon bakery (16/20).

To begin we had a Jersualem artichoke veloute with hazelnut and bosc pear; this was enjoyable enough, but I found it just a little sweeter than I was expecting, while the core flavour did not come through as intensely as I would have liked (15/20). Alaskan king crab had excellent flavour, served with green apple, coriander and a little Madras curry sauce (the latter with subtle spicing that lifted but did not compete with, the crab), with an overall pleasingly refreshing effect (18/20).

Hawaiian prawn roulade with avocado, lime and yoghurt and had good balance and was simply but prettily presented, and with high quality prawn; the yoghurt on the side having particularly good flavour (17/20). My wife and I then shared a baked Mediterranean sea bass cooked in a salt crust.  This is one of my favourite fish, cooked beautifully here and served with chanterelle mushrooms, Malabar spinach and tomato confit, and a few figs, giving a suitably Mediterranean set of tastes (18/20).

Pre dessert of cassis ice cream with champagne foam was superb, the cassis having lovely depth of flavour, the champagne foam light (maybe 19/20).  Vanilla soufflé was technically well executed, served with a Vermont quark (milk) and passion fruit sauce; passion fruit works well with vanilla, and the overall effect was lovely (18/20). We finished with good coffee and macaroons.

Service was superb throughout the evening, and it was a nice touch that Danny Meyer himself came over and said hello.  Overall I was very impressed with the experience, with essentially no technical issues, an enjoyable menu and some lovely flavours, such as the cassis ice cream. Incomprehensibly this got a single Michelin star in the 2010 guide (none in 2009) yet for me on this trip the meal was right up there (and is some cases superior to) the trio of New York three star places that I visited.

Further reviews: 23rd Feb 2011

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