A Meal at the 3rd Best Restaurant in the World

NiyazPirani_ElevenMadisonPark_Fish

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.

374A2542

An iconic entryway.

NiyazPirani_ElevenMadisonPark_Interior

And equally iconic interior.

The meal begins …


374A2316

Black & White
savory cookie with apple and cheddar


374A2329

374A2322

Oyster
poached and raw with chestnuts and velouté


374A2334

Caviar
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.


374A2340

Table Bread
(praise hands emoji)


374A2367

Lobster
poached with rutabaga and pear


374A2374

374A2377

374A2393

Celery Root
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.'”


374A2360

Black Bass
with black radish and sesame


374A2400

Muscovy Duck Breast
with coriander seed


374A2405

Pork
braised cheeks with onion, mustard and broth


374A2410

Butternut Squash
roasted with thyme

374A2413

Potato
confit with potato puree


IMG_0767

Cheddar
tarte with apple and bacon marmelade


374A2436

Red-hot tongs are used to open an old bottle of wine tableside.


374A2447

Baked Alaska
with meyer lemon and vanilla ice cream

374A2481

Laird’s Apple Brandy & Pretzels with Sea Salt

374A2476

“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.”

374A2490

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.

374A2487

She dropped a quick pose, and I took a quick shot.

374A2495

374A2497

374A2523

We met the guy who patiently carved our celery root …

374A2502

… and they even made us maple candy with apple “snow.”

374A2525

But most of all, they Made It Nice.

Eleven Madison Park
Metropolitan Life North Building,
11 Madison Ave., New York, NY
212-889-0905


CALIFORNIA BONUS ROUND: 

Chef Daniel Humm is cooking in LA right now! In a food truck!!

Here’s the story on the NoMad, from Jenn Harris of the LA Times.