January 29, 2012 Lunch at Eleven Madison Park
This past Thursday, Yufei treated me to an amazing lunch at Eleven Madison Park. It was a part of our agreement that if I do well on the DAT, I get to have a meal at a restaurant of my choice. I have to say that this lunch was definitely worth all the effort I put into studying for the DAT!!
The restaurant itself was beautiful and airy, with high ceilings, bright with natural light – just the way I like it!
We got seated by the window, and warm moist towels were brought to us to clean our hands – a nice touch. Then our server explained the menu format to us (even though we already looked it up online in anticipation of the meal): the menu comprises of a 4 by 4 grid of 16 different ingredients, and you choose 1 ingredient from each row for each of the 4 courses, allowing the preparation of the dish to be a surprise. I really liked the concept of this; I love surprises! So we picked out our dishes and patiently waited. But we didn’t have to wait long before a series of amuse-bouches started arriving at our table. First was a little bowl of warm and fluffy gougères. We were hungry so we ate it all before I remembered to take a picture -oops. Then came these little quail eggs on some kind of wafer-like disk with tiny pieces of bacon on top – I called it breakfast in a bite – with a delicious apple celery tea:
I loved how delicate-looking everything was, which was something that continued as the meal went on. Next was a smoked sturgeon sabayon served in eggshells (See? Delicate-looking!). It was creamy and frothy and tasty!
After that, bread was brought to the table, along with sea salt and 2 butters, a cow and a goat. I really really loved their bread (asked for another serving later in the meal); it was so light and fluffy, almost like a croissant. Also a big fan of the goat butter. And they warmed the butter knife! Another nice touch.
So after all this food, we finally got our first courses! I picked scallop as my main ingredient and got scallop marinated with celery and apple. It was good but nothing extraordinary (but they did manage to make celery palatable, which is a feat in itself).
Yufei picked foie gras and got it seared with oats and apple and something else:
For my second course, I chose lobster and got it with fennel puree and leeks. I really liked this dish, the burnt leeks somehow didn’t taste burnt and added an interesting texture.
Yufei picked potato for the second course and got these little nugget potatoes with bacon bits and black truffle (score! He loves truffle).
For the main course, we opted for the duck for 2, because I had read about how amazing it was on Yelp and we both love duck anyway. They brought out the whole duck to us, and then proceeded to carve it by the table-side. The honey lavender glazed duck was served with fennel puree, and persimmons (I liked it), and some other things (this is the problem when you don’t have a full menu). It was absolutely delicious! The skin was nice and crispy, with various spices, including cumin (never thought that cumin and duck would go together!), and the meat was nice and tender.
The second part of the duck dish came as a duck let confit with whipped potatoes (sorry, forgot to take a photo), and it was very good as well. After the third course, we were made 2 small glasses of egg cream with an orange flavor twist. It was the first time either of us has ever had egg cream and we really enjoyed it!
After that, another mini dessert was brought to the table. It was a little goat milk cheesecake with melt in your mouth raspberry crumbles and some kind of sorbet. I LOVED this. I wish I could have gotten a bigger one!
And then, finally, our actual dessert course! I ordered coconut as my main ingredient, and I got this little melange of sweets, including coconut sorbet, passion fruit sorbet (can they read minds and tell what you like?!), coconut meringues, served with fresh papaya and mango and roasted coconut meat strips, and topped with caramel tasting crumbles. So good!
Yufei picked chocolate and got this chocolate mousse with ice cream and… who knows. All that matters is that it tasted good!
And then we finished up the meal with hot chocolate for Yufei and a mint lavender tea for me. Mignardises consisting of black and white truffled ice cream was served (forgot to take photo again!). The whole meal took about 2 and a half hours and every moment was perfect! Both the food and the service was excellent, comparable only to our experience at Per Se. All in all a fabulous meal! Thanks Yufei :)