The inconspicuous entrance to Eleven Madison Park looks like that of an office building. However, once through the revolving door, I felt less like I was at work and more like I was at home, as I was greeted by a host who impressively knew with whom I was dining. At our table, there was a small card with words printed on it. The words were in rows and columns, and each was the main ingredient of a dish. For lunch, there is the option of three or four courses. We chose four. I chose “artichoke,” “loup de mer,” “pork,” and “chocolate.” My dining companion chose “tuna,” “lobster,” “pork,” and “chocolate.” We were asked if we had any food allergies or restrictions, and noting none, the waiter was off to start our meal. A young, female sommelier suggested the wine to go with our choices. (The feminist in me was very happy to see a young, female sommelier at a four-star restaurant, in addition to female waiters.) To start, tomato tea. I didn’t think this would be much to write about until I tasted it. I could picture ripe, luscious tomatoes as I sipped.
There were some bites on the table that looked like gougeres, but I didn’t get a chance to try one.
Our amuse-bouche was a precisely decapitated egg shell with a flavorful sturgeon creation inside that was the perfect opener to tantalize our taste buds.
We also had two types of bread. One was a cross between a roll and a croissant, served in a charming sack with butter and a goat’s milk butter.
bread with butters
The other was a fiery lavash:
My first course was artichoke that included fried artichokes and artichoke mousse, along with sweetbreads. I’d never had sweetbreads before and was pleasantly surprised by their mild flavor. These were fried crisp on the outside and softer on the inside. Of course, it is said that anything fried can’t taste bad.
My second course was loup de mer. This was mild and pleasant.
loup de mer
My friend’s starters included a tuna with tomatoes. The froth on top was actually frozen and tasted like tomato.
My friend’s second course was lobster that I believe they called a lobster lasagna. It looks as if it had zucchini and zucchini flowers.
My entree was pork, roasted and a slab of bacon, with apricots and pistachio couscous. The pork was tender and delicious, and the pistachio couscous made a great accompaniment with its crunch.
A fun part of the dining experience at Eleven Madison Park is when the waiter wheels over a cart with an old-fashioned seltzer bottle, one cup of brown liquid and one of white, and a container of olive oil. They make their tableside version of the New York egg cream. It’s a yummy and playful palate cleanser.
For dessert, chocolate in various forms: a hazelnut gelato, a rectangular chocolate candy bar, and a cylindrical foam that sparkles with toffee bits.
To end our meal, macaroons, mango jellies and
after dinner treats
Eleven Madison Park is my kind of haute cuisine, a never-ending stream of flavor, both elegant and fun.