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Eleven Madison Park

We had an excellent meal at Eleven Madison Park in early August. I didn’t note every dish, and it’s obviously too late to remember them all, so I’ll keep this brief.

This is a controversial restaurant. In May of this year, Danyelle Freeman gave it five stars in the Daily News (the only restaurant so honored during her brief tenure there). And Frank Bruni said that the new restaurant Corton “joins the constantly improving Eleven Madison Park as a restaurant hovering just below the very summit of fine dining in New York.” If Bruni promotes any restaurant to four stars in 2009, as I believe he is itching to do, I have to think EMP is one of the few real candidates.

But Eleven Madison Park has no Michelin stars, probably the most glaring omission from the French guide’s otherwise very sensible advice. Michelin skeptics cite the snub as evidence that the guide should be disregarded. Still, it’s a fact that this restaurant lacks the near-universal acclaim of, say, Le Bernardin or Jean Georges. Even Bruni, in a year-end blog post, noted that he had an uneven meal there in the fall.

Public adoration seems to be undimmed. Eleven Madison is one of the few restaurants that has continued to raise prices, and get away with it. The prix fixe is now $88 for three courses, and the two tasting menus are now $125 and $175, the latter being one of the most expensive of its kind in the city.

You can count us as fans of Eleven Madison Park. After three visits, we have never yet been disappointed. In August, we had the prix fixe. I was especially eager to try the duck for two. It was wonderful, but I do prefer to have it carved tableside, as they did at Le Périgord. When they whisk it away to the kitchen, the plates that come back never quite seem to add up to a whole bird.

As our meal was five months ago, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Canapés (left); Amuse-bouche (center); Burgundy (right)


The duck as presented (left), and served (center), with leg confit on the side (right)

Cheese course

Palate cleanser and petits-fours

Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Avenue at 24th Street, Flatiron District)

Food: ***½
Service: ***½
Ambiance: ***½
Overall: ***½

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