eat. shop. love. nyc.

Eleven Madison Park Gourmand Lunch Part II
March 30, 2010, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Continued from Eleven Madison Park Gourmand Lunch Part I.

After the most perfect salad of my life, I had a phenomenal foie gras terrine with golden pineapple relish, pickled pearl onion, and passion fruit gelee. It was served with a housemade rum raisin brioche toast, so the whole of the course was extremely rich. I thought the portion a little too large given the richness, but I got over it. After all, it is foie gras, and gras it was. It was during this course that I regretted not having a glass of crisp, high acid white wine to cleanse my palate after each mouthful so I could taste each bite anew. Then I remembered that alcohol was not my friend (see Part I for previous night’s activities), and I sipped contentedly on my super-gingery gingered ale instead.

One more time… everything was so beautiful!

The rum raisin brioche.

I was pretty full by the time we finished the foie gras course, but I knew we had a seafood, meat, and dessert course yet to come so I sucked it up (poor little me) and got to eating. The fish course was a butter-soft John Dory filet with pickled daikon radish, edamame, and dried winter citrus. The fish was so soft and creamy, and the cream sauce was a great complement. I enjoyed the edamame, but the winter citrus tasted like dried mangos or passion fruit, which are too sugary for me and in my opinion, should not be paired with fish. Fish is so delicious; it can stand alone!

By the way, do you guys know what a sauce spoon is? Because I didn’t. I saw this weird flat spoon-looking thing with a notch on one side and couldn’t figure out whether I was supposed to cut my fish with it (like a fish knife) or what. So I asked, and I was told that this doohickey is a sauce spoon. I still don’t get what the notch is for, or why a regular spoon wouldn’t wok just as well in scooping up leftover sauce. I clearly have a ways to go in wrapping my head around fine dining and the more delicate points of etiquette.

The meat course was a serving of milk-fed veal cheeks with celery root and black truffles. This was the one dish that went wrong for me. I had no problem with the fact that it was veal, or even the fact that I was eating face meat. I just didn’t like the sauce, which was somehow bitter and burnt-tasting. The meat itself was cooked well, slicing easily and melting on the tongue. But I knew dessert was coming, so after two bites, I decided to stop eating something I didn’t love. Boy, did that pay off.

A server came over and asked me if the veal was not to my liking. It wasn’t, but I didn’t think it was any fault of theirs. My guess is that the guys in the kitchen at EMP know what they’re doing, and while I might not like everything because my own palate is unrefined or lacking somehow, I trust that they’ve done their job, and done it well. So when I said, “There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just not right for me,” I expected that she would just take it away and leave it at that. Instead, she asked me if I’d like something else instead, and I asked, “You can do that?” in semi-disbelief. She smiled and said, “Of course; would you like another seafood course or perhaps another kind of meat course?” I said seafood, daring to hope for some the the sweet-ass crab linguine the guy next to us was having.

But I didn’t dream big enough. Some time later, four servers returned. Two were carrying plates with butter poached poached Nova Scotia lobster with heirloom carrots, and yellow carrot puree. The other two carried a frothy citrus sabayon and ginger and Vadouvan granola that was plated after the lobster was set down. I don’t think I’ve ever had lobster with carrots, or even ever thought to have lobster with carrots, and I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. The sweetness of the carrots helped draw out the sweetness of the lobster, and I used my newly discovered sauce spoon so as to avoid any embarrassing licking of the plate.

We were asked if we would like to have a cheese course, but as we were already full, we declined.

Finally, it was time for dessert. I am pretty sure they have people in the back doing magic and all sorts of hocus pocus because I don’t know how else they could have poured the glossy chocolate on the peanut butter palette without so much as a misplaced drop. The palette wasn’t dripped in chocolate, since the bottom wasn’t covered in chocolate, and it didn’t look like the sides of the plate had been wiped clean, and the chocolate looked too glossy to have been painted on with a knife. Baffling. The chocolate peanut butter palette was served with caramel popcorn, salted popcorn ice cream, and a powder that tasted a lot like pretzel dust. The chocolate ribbon was gorgeous, and the gold leaf detailing on the corner was admittedly decadent, but isn’t that the whole point of partaking in a tasting menu?

Just when we thought it was over, we were presented with a tray of macaroons. EMP does seem to love its macaroons. There was strawberry, lemon poppyseed, coconut chocolate, (I can’t remember the yellowish one), green tea and black sesame, chocolate, and peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter and jelly was hands down the best. All of the other macaroons I could have done without, as I would have preferred to let the salted caramel ice cream flavor linger on my tongue.

After our meal, we asked our server for a tour of the kitchen as they were wrapping up their lunch service. What an immaculate kitchen! I didn’t see any fairies or elves, but I did see the pastry chef lovingly crimping some crusts in preparation for the dinner service. We returned to our table and noticed that the guys next to us had requested a menu to take home with them, so I did the same. Moments later, I was handed a folder containing two printouts of our menu on heavy linen paper, and they must have been printed just then because our menus had the lobster substituted for the veal.

I can’t say enough about how special I felt throughout the entire meal. The staff was so friendly and accommodating, and they made me feel welcome, valued, and pampered. For $68 per person, this was better than any spa treatment I could get for double the price. I left feeling happy, relaxed, and determined to return. Next time, I’ll stick to a more manageable three courses, though!


2 Comments so far
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This meal goes on my list of 100 things to do before I die.

Comment by Aarti

It’s a really great deal at lunch for $68. The gourmand dinner is $175!

Comment by Melody

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