January 1st, 2019, 6:28 a.m., boogers are in my eyes, a foot in my mouth from my son’s asinine slumber, and a bird chirping so loudly you would’ve thought Brother Nature was outside. The excitement on my face and a proud feeling to be able to save up enough money to treat myself to a birthday gift at Eleven Madison Park would make any family happy to adopt my kodak picture. And then…. Reality set in.
Eleven Madison Park, a 3 Michelin Star and is regarding as the top restaurant in the United States by different publications, is located off of Madison Park in New York and led by Daniel Humm; one of the most respected chef’s in the United States. Today I had the pleasure of being in the presence of Chef Brian Lockwood. This is a restaurant that’s so beautiful, it’s almost breath-taking when you walk through the doors. The service is impeccable, the interior is marvelous, and then… Reality set in.
The menu is a pre-fixed and consists of ten or so dishes. I’ll start off with the lighter dishes. Dosa, Potato Salad, and a Souffle were my first few dishes. Dosa, which was similar to their “bread” dish was presented with a Black Truffle and Parmesan butter. The highlight of this dish was the Tea that was served with it. It was a Black Truffle tea that had the most ravishing aroma you’d ever smell. The flavor of the tea was light, flavorful, and fermented with unique flavors. The Potato Salad consisted of Black Truffle and Quail Eggs. The Potato Salad was rich in flavor, and you can taste the mayonnaise with each bite. The Quail Egg, which was pickled, added a sour taste to it that worked well with the starch flavor of the potato. The only challenge I had with this dish was the Black Truffle. I don’t believe mushrooms should be added with Potato Salad, but I guess there was enough in the kitchen that they decided to put on just about each meal. The last dish was the Souffle. It consisted of a Clam, Leek, and Potato Souffle accompanied with a spoon full of caviar. The concept is to mix the Caviar with the flavors of the Souffle to send your taste buds into wonderland. The Souffle was light and fluffy which was a plus. It was also packed with flavor from the saltiness and onion flavor of the Clam, Caviar, and Leeks.
The next few dishes of the night were the Foie Gras, Lobster, Duck, and sides of Winter Squash and Leeks. This is where Reality really set in. The Foie Gras was seared with Brussels Sprouts shavings and Lemon. The fattiness of the Foie Gras to go along with the citrus acid of the lemon did not work well for me. I didn’t taste the saltiness or any char flavoring from the Foie Gras. It resembled sort of a mushy texture to go with the crispiness of the Brussels Sprouts. The next dish was the Lobster. It was Butter Poached with a Celery Root and Apple Tart. The Lobster was a bit under-cooked and the bitterness of the apple tart was a bit overwhelming. It was sour, bitter, and didn’t go well with the Buttered flavor of the Lobster. The Celery Root was a saving grace for this dish as it had a potato flavor to it with a bit of a char from the fire it was cooked under. The Duck was the final meat dish. It was a Honey and Lavender Glazed Duck with Napa Cabbage and Pear. The Duck was crisp, meaty, flavorful, and juicy which was surprising because it was cooked in an oven. I thought the duck would be pan-seared, but to my surprise Chef Brian explained to me that it was made in an oven then sat out to rest. The Cabbage was a bit bitter, and the flavor of the pear didn’t really excite me with it either. These two ingredients were a bit rancid, stale, and unforgiving.
The two sides of the night were Winter Squash and Leeks. The Winter Squash consisted of Brown Butter and Thyme. A dish that was hearty, flavorful, and had a cream cheese flavoring layered at the bottom of it as well. The Leeks were made with Cheddar and Parsley. I didn’t so much like the crunchiness of this dish and the type of cheese that was used with the Leeks. It had the same flavoring of onions topped with Cheddar Cheese with bread crumbs, but no other exciting flavors to go along with this dish. One final dish of the night was Golden Oyster Mushrooms. The Mushrooms were great as they were earthy as they are supposed to be, and the presentation on how they were made was pretty dull. The mushrooms were presented cartside and explained by the waiter how it’s made. The only challenge I have with that is that the mushrooms are already made in the kitchen, but then topped with a sauce when it’s brought table side. It just seems like an empty though process, which wasn’t impressive.
The last dish was the Chocolate. It consisted of Chai and Gingerbread. The dish was sweet, crunchy, and was flavorful despite Gingerbread having the texture and flavor of cardboard. Chocolate is one of my favorite desserts, so to mix it in with Chai and Gingerbread and be able to lift all those flavors together was a plus for me.
Overall, this restaurant was a disappointment. I didn’t walk away feeling as though my money was well-worth spent. The flavors weren’t consistent, some presentations lacked sense, and my dining experience made me want to climb into my bed and re-think of all the money decisions I’ve ever made. This restaurant is a hard-pass. We all have to be aware of a restaurant that takes so much pride in their service that we don’t over-look most of their dishes taste like they’ve been put in a microwave. I’m not sure how they got 3-Michelin Stars, but what goes up…..