The grandiose Art Deco space

Although I spent my birthday at Le Bernardin, one of the most acclaimed restaurants in New York City (and maybe the world), that wasn’t my favorite dining experience on my trip to NYC. This was. I had been to Eleven Madison Park once before, a couple of years ago and had been wanting to go back ever since. Danny Meyer, the great New York City restaurateur, opened EMP in 1998. In 2006, the restaurant was changed from a French bistro to a fine dining establishment to better fit the grandiose Art Deco space it’s located in. When the first review from the New York Observer stated the restaurant needed “more Miles Davis”, a little research on what that meant concluded with a series of words most often used to describe the great jazz legend that now hang on the entrance to the kitchen and act as words of inspiration to the whole staff:

Inspirational words

2006 was also the year Daniel Humm (voted Best Chef New York City, 2010 by the James Beard Foundation) took over the EMP kitchen. Lunch at EMP was the last meal of a 4-day orgy of memorable dining experiences in NYC, and what a meal it was! I love the new “minimalist grid” menu which lets you chose the main ingredient of each one of your courses then lets the kitchen work its magic around that ingredient. We went for the 4 course menu, which – as you will see in the pictures below – ended being more like a 10-course magical meal.

"Minimalist grid" menu

Cheese gougères and "Onze" - an Eleven Madison Park Cabernet-Sauvignon


The meal started off with 3 appetizers before we even got to the bread service and our meal. I could have eaten 10 times the amount of each one of these appetizers. In fact, I could have made a whole meal out of each and every one of the dishes served that day.

Absolutely divine and perfectly seasoned chicken velouté with black truffle brioche - I will take a bathtub full of this, thank you very much!

Smoked sturgeon sabayon with chive oil - yes, that's a real egg shell!

Truffled eggs topped with white truffle zabaglione - can anything be more perfect than this dish?


The bread service is an absolutely fascinating ritual at Eleven Madison Park. I watched it at our table and then again at a few tables around us and it was just as mesmerizing every time. The goat butter is divine and the home-made bread delicious.

Goat's milk butter (left) and cow's milk butter with olive bread and baguette baked on the premises


Fennel braised with cara cara oranges, mojama and bulgur wheat

Scallops marinated with radish, persimmon and yuzu


John Dory slow cooked with daikon radish, dried citrus, edamame and avocado oil

Butter poached Nova Scotia lobster with matsutake mushrooms and spinach


Pork loin and belly roasted with sauerkraut pear and morcilla

Squab roasted with apples and cabbage


Kir Royal sabayon with cassis sorbet and lemon meringue - it really did taste like a Kir Royal!


Happy birthday to me! Chocolate composition with variations (dehydrated chocolate mousse, chocolate honeycomb, etc.) with milk

Coconut vacherin with passion fruit and mango


Just in case we haven’t had enough food and were still hungry…

Sesame tuiles, truffles made with white chocolate and white Alba truffles (very peculiar taste, not my favorite) and banana sorbet lollipops dipped in chocolate and peanuts


Dining at EMP is not just about the food, it’s about the whole dining experience. Every single member of the staff is lovely, friendly, polite, knowledgeable, attentive and is there to make your dining experience memorable. I’d like to think that they were extra attentive with our table because it was my birthday and also because I was so enthusiastic about being there! The lovely birthday wish on my dessert plate was a great surprise, and so was an invitation to take a tour of the kitchen! We started in the service area, which was built this past fall with the purpose of eliminating the service stations in the restaurant thus reducing the noise level. The service area is where the bread trays and different kinds of coffees are prepared and where all the silverware and Limoges dinnerware are stored.

Service area before entering the kitchen

From there we moved into the kitchen, which was busy with 20 or more people all working their stations in preparation for that night’s dinner service. Chef Daniel Humm was away that day but on the kitchen walls was that Miles Davis poster among other words of wisdom and inspiration.

This is where all the magic happens: the kitchen staff busy prepping for the dinner crowd

... and they do make it very nice!

Another surprise awaited us in the kitchen… Mark (the pastry sous-chef, aka the alchemist) made us a frozen Hemingway daiquiri right before our eyes using liquid nitrogen while we watched the kitchen action. The frozen concoction included some grapefruit foam and pop rocks at the bottom of the glass for an added surprise!

Mark the alchemist!

Frozen Hemingway daiquiri (with a pop rock surprise at the bottom of the glass!)

That frozen daiquiri was the cherry on top of the amazing sundae that was that lunch. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a delightful dining experience. Eleven Madison Park now has a permanent place on my New York restaurant list, in fact it probably has the top spot on my list of all-time favorite restaurants. I am already planning my next trip to the big apple because I can’t wait to go back!

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Avenue
New York, NY
212 889 0905

Monday–Friday noon – 2:00pm

Monday–Saturday 5:30pm – 10:00pm

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