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Eleven Madison Park

Note: Click here for a more recent review of Eleven Madison Park.

I took my mom and my girlfriend to Eleven Madison Park last night. They were doing a good business, but the restaurant wasn’t full at any point during our 3½ hours there.

For Mother’s Day, they were offering the standard three-course prix fixe at $68 or a special five-course tasting menu at $85. We chose the latter. The courses, as best I remember them, were:

  • Amuse bouche of gazpacho and cherry tomato sorbet
  • Salad of Florence fennel, radishes, and essence of cara cara orange
  • Foie gras terrine with rhubarb and raisins
  • Lobster with butter poached carrots, orange and Gewürtztraminer
  • Palate cleanser, which I have forgotten
  • Wagyu beef short rib braised with bone marrow crust and garden peas
  • Choice of cheesecake with sheep’s milk yogurt and roasted pineapple; or, selection of cheeses
  • Petits-fours

This was the first time that I’ve dined out at a high-end restaurant on a holiday, and not been disappointed. The fact that the regular à la carte menu was available was a positive sign. When restaurants channel everyone to just one menu (as they often do on New Year’s Eve, for example), it’s a sure sign that you’re going to get a mass-produced mess that’s no better than a catered wedding.

Here, every course was excellent. The rhubarb-raisin foie gras terrine stood out, especially for the unusual combination of ingredients. The beef short ribs were wonderfully tender. In a tasting menu one always regrets that there are only a few bites. I also especially liked the creativity of the cheesecake.

Paired wines would have been $48 each, but that was more wine than we cared to consume on a Sunday evening, so we ordered a bottle of cabernet franc from Channing Daughters ($71), and weren’t disappointed. The staff decanted the wine for us without our asking, which is something all too few restaurants will do these days.

Service was close to flawless. (The restaurant won the 2004 James Beard award for best service in America.) We were especially impressed with the timing of the courses, which at some restaurants are rushed when your meal is a tasting of multiple small courses. We always had an ample amount of time to relax before the next course arrived.

Dinner for three, including tasting menus, pre-dinner cocktails, wine, and cappucino afterwards, was $371 before tax and tip.

Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Avenue @24th St, Flatiron District)

Food: ***
Service: ***
Ambiance: ***
Overall: ***

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