It’s 2017 … let’s kick off the year in style!
Whether you agree with the concept of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list or not, the fact remains—not only do the annual rankings include culinary heavy hitters worldwide, but landing a spot does wonders for the notoriety of a restaurant for years to come.
In the United States only 6 restaurants made the 2016 list in total, though the No. 3 spot does belong to the U.S.
Rather, it belongs to James Beard Award-winning Chef Daniel Humm and Co. of Eleven Madison Park in New York, a contemporary American restaurant in the Metropolitan Life North Building on Madison Avenue (across the street from the famous Madison Square Park Shake Shack).
Though he’s been at the helm for a decade, Humm and his partner Will Guidara purchased the restaurant from previous owner Danny Meyer just a few years ago. In early 2016, Humm pared down the restaurant’s lengthy four-hour tasting menu for a new minimalism, which made news in The New York Times.
“I think we’re at a point where eating 25 courses is not necessary,” Humm told The Gray Lady. “We feel strongly about it. That’s not what we want anymore, as diners. It’s too much.”
My wife and I arrived in Spring 2016 to celebrate 10 years together, just as they hit seasonal stride with their new menu.
An iconic entryway.
And equally iconic interior.
The meal begins …
Black & White
savory cookie with apple and cheddar
poached and raw with chestnuts and velouté
benedict with egg, potato and ham
A favorite in the progression … there was a poached quail egg and diced pieces of ham under the caviar and hollandaise. The crumbs are actually potato; everything served with mini English muffins! An homage to the classic New York dish.
(praise hands emoji)
poached with rutabaga and pear
braised with black truffle
A technique employed by Paul Bocuse to cook a truffled chicken, this dish was a main inspiration for the menu overhaul at EMP. From the NY Times story:
“(Humm) developed a dish—celery root braised in a pig’s bladder—and presented it as a delectable pale sphere on a white plate. Mr. Humm got a glimpse of the less-is-more aesthetic he’d been seeking.
‘That was sort of the first dish where I felt like I unlocked something,’ he said. ‘Doesn’t need another garnish. It needs nothing.'”
with black radish and sesame
Muscovy Duck Breast
with coriander seed
braised cheeks with onion, mustard and broth
roasted with thyme
confit with potato puree
tarte with apple and bacon marmelade
Red-hot tongs are used to open an old bottle of wine tableside.
with meyer lemon and vanilla ice cream
Laird’s Apple Brandy & Pretzels with Sea Salt
“Name That Milk”
Mast Brothers chocolate bar matching game
Four different animal milk chocolates. You guess against your tablemate which bar belongs to which animal (cow, buffalo, sheep, goat).
We were invited into the kitchen to check out the action, which was quite a lovely surprise. Walking in, there’s a large poster displaying the restaurant’s motto, “Make It Nice.”
Our host pointed out some of the finer points of the server’s station before leading us in. Though everyone was hard at work, they were as accommodating here as they were at the table.
She dropped a quick pose, and I took a quick shot.
We met the guy who patiently carved our celery root …
… and they even made us maple candy with apple “snow.”
But most of all, they Made It Nice.
Eleven Madison Park
Metropolitan Life North Building,
11 Madison Ave., New York, NY
CALIFORNIA BONUS ROUND:
Chef Daniel Humm is cooking in LA right now! In a food truck!!