Hi guys! Hope you all are enjoying the start to a very long weekend (at least for all you American readers…).
So, last night, Loren gave me directions to go to a street in Manhattan. At that point, I kind of guessed that we were headed to Eleven Madison Park, a restaurant that I’ve read about, dreamed about, but never thought that a) we could get a reservation and that b) Loren would want to splurge and go to! But that’s where we went. I have to say that it was the best meal, hands down, I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Everything was perfect. The restaurant was just given 4 stars by a NY Times critic, and man, was it deserving of those….
We got to the restaurant a little early, and they sat us at the bar. The atmosphere inside is clean, classy, and each server was incredible friendly and professional. I ordered a glass of Rose to start with, and Loren ordered a Pimm’s cup, mix of Pimm’s–a British Liquor–Gingerale, and lemon (maybe some other stuff added in there too!). They brought us a nice plate of olives, peanuts, and potato chips with our drinks.
The olives were incredible. I’m not sure what was in the oil, but they had a strong, herby tang to them. I had a feeling the meal was going to be amazing from the level of “bar food” they gave us to munch on!
When we sat down at out table (promptly at the time of our reservation), our waiter brought us the wine list and the menu. Look at the top of our menu!
How incredible is that? Loren told them it was our 5 year anniversary when he made the reservation, and they really know how to add special touches like this that make the dinner feel very special!
Loren and I decided to order the three course prix fixe (they also have 10 and 11 course options- wow!). I started with the Ricotta Gnocchi, with olives and bacon, described below (Lynnhaven Ricotta di Capra) and, for my Maine Course, I had the Atlantic Halibut with grilled corn (the first item below under Fish and Crustaceans).
Both were incredible. The restaurant was dim (and very romantic), which I love, but it was hard to take good pictures… and I didn’t want to use flash in such a classy place… just doesn’t vibe well.
After we ordered, the waiters brought out a plate of appetizers that, to my surprise, came with the prix fixe dinner. They were beautiful, small, complex bites.
I cannot remember what they all were. The waiters (who were so knowledgeable about everything on the menu) explained each one… From what I can remember, there was a radish dipped in butter and salt, a cucumber topped with caviar, a piece of foie gras with some kind of fruit marmalade on top, a small tart with clam, and sweetbreads rolled in a fine pastry dough. I tried all of them but the sweetbreads (just couldn’t bring myself to try it—- if you dont know what they are, look it up and you’ll understand). I’ve never had foie gras before and I don’t think I will ever order it in a restaurant, but I tried it to see what all the fuss is about. Honestly, it was just really salty and creamy to me. I preferred the radish and cucumber bites!
Along with the appetizers, they also brought us these beautiful little cheese puff pastries (sorry, no picture- they were bite size) and small, warm, baguettes with the most incredible butter I have ever had in my life!
The flash went off by accident on this one! Woops. The butters were (from left) a goat’s milk butter — who knew??– which was AMAZING… almost had a cheese flavor, and a non salted Vermont cow’s milk butter. They also brought a little cup of sea salt with the butter.
I was already in heaven, and our first courses had not even arrived. The service was out of this world- everything came right when you wanted it, so you could savor each course but not wait too long for the next. The gnocchi were out of this world. I was not sure what to expect from the menu description- I had been thinking potato gnocchi topped with ricotta. But these were ricotta gnocchi wrapped in a thin layer of noodle.
This dish was decadent and rich— each bite was so creamy and kind of “popped” in my mouth! I felt that the artichokes, olive, and bacon (which looked like flower petals!) went perfectly with the ricotta flavor, adding a great saltiness to the dish.
The server also drizzled a creamy sauce on top. (They drizzled or poured something on top of each dish. The presentation was incredible.)
I gave about 4 gnocchi to Loren. They were amazing, but I knew that if I ate them all, I would feel too stuffed to enjoy the second and third courses! Loren also shared his appetizer with me, an Heirloom tomato salad. It was a combo of tomato mousse, watermelon, beautiful tomatoes, and prosciutto on top. They server drizzled 25 year- aged balsamic on top. It was gorgeous!
We savored each bite. Then the halibut came out. It was served with a kind of corn puree and the waiter sprinkled some dried corn on top. Amazing!
The fish was the best I have ever had. It was moist throughout, flaky, and melted in my mouth. The creamy corn puree, with purslane (like spinach) and radishes, really complimented the light flavor of the fish.
Loren ordered the Nova Scotia Lobster, which was also out of this world delicious, perfectly cooked and seasoned. We shared lots of bites!
I was so impressed by all of the dishes… and I was also feeling full! So, when it came time to order dessert, I wanted something light. I ordered the Summer Melons: honey dew, cantaloupe, watermelon, and citrus tapioca.
The desserts also came with a nice touch!
(Yes— the flash went off on this one as well). This desert was just what I wanted- light! There were little tapioca bubbles with the melon that were chewy and fun to eat! Loren ordered the exact opposite- a chocolate, caramel, and sea salt tart, served with some kind of chocolate mousse.
The tart had a wonderful texture, like caramel. It was salty and sweet at the same time. Loren loved it, and I loved my bites!
One of the best parts of the meal, for me, was when the chef, Daniel Humm, came out to say hello to us. He is only 32 years old, and became the executive chef of the restaurant when he was only 29. He was gracious, humble, and kind, as I told him it was, honestly, the best meal of my life. He is beyond talented and it was such an incredible surprise and honor to meet him! (Sorry, no picture… that would have been too weird).
Before we got out check, they brought out ANOTHER treat: a platter of little macaroons from which we could choose.
We chose passion fruit, violet and chocolate, peaches and cream, and caramel popcorn (amazing- never had anything like it!) We paid the check (I did not take a picture of that for you guys!) and took a really nice, long walk through the city. I asked Loren to take a picture of me so I could show you guys my new dress, bought especially for the occasion, but one that I will definitely wear to many more!
I’m a little awkward- and very full— here!
It was a perfect New York night, and I hope you guys enjoyed coming along with me! I tried to capture the essence of the meal for you, but of course, with food like this, that is almost impossible. We each also had two more glasses of wine during dinner and dessert— those are the only things not pictured.
Eleven Madison Park definitely deserves its reputation for being the “best of New York”. The food, service, and atmosphere made our anniversary so special and a night we will always remember!