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Eleven Madison Park Reviews

The refrigerated cases in the kitchens of Eleven Madison Park are once again fully filled with food. As opposed to the previous display of hanging ducks, there are rows of ceramic pots, each containing aging beets with lush green tips protruding from the bottom of the pot. It is possible that you are at a floral store.

You, on the other hand, are not. Imagine that you’re at one of the world’s most renowned restaurants, and there’s a 15,000-person waiting list to see those pots being smashed tableside before the beets are cut up, wrapped in mustard leaf kimchi, and served with red wine jus. In spite of the fact that the beets were dried and rehydrated many times as well as smoked, cured, and generally alchemized over the period of three days, they have a chewy, almost meaty texture. Their soiled sweetness is converted into a rich, roasted beauty of a meal, the anticipation of which wafts through the dining room with the burnt odors as the pans are wheeled around.

It was on June 10 that the doors of Daniel Humm’s vegan reworking of one of the world’s most respected menus finally opened their doors after weeks of speculation and anticipation.

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Cucumber melon salad is a colorful and refreshing meal that takes a lot of effort to prepare.

Photographer: Justin Ocean for the Bloomberg News agency

One item on the new menu that exemplifies the meticulousness, complexity, and, above all, labor-intensiveness of the new approach is the unassuming cucumber course, which emerges almost 1 1/2 hours into the dinner. It has the appearance of a standard fish tartare. However, it is made up of minutely chopped, compressed cucumbers that are stacked in a gradient with similarly small morsels of sweet, crisp melon on top of an avocado cream base, and it is punctuated with threads of silky, smokey daikon to finish. Cucumber skin powder is sprinkled on top of the dish. A result of the limited shelf life of fresh cucumbers, it takes two chefs all day, every day to cut and prep the ingredients.

As a result of 35 to 40 industrious cooks in the kitchen, time is an ingredient that is prominently shown throughout the menu.

Although the absence of protein is noticeable, it may be due to the fact that absolutely nothing on the 11-course EMP menu tries to emulate meat or fish flavors. In place of the renowned duck, there is no lavender-roasted seitan, which would have been a simpler and less eye-opening shortcut.

The caviar-styled tonburi, which is served on a bed of ice in a silver tureen with tiny mother of pearl spoons, is the one exception to this rule. Humm boils the tonburi, which are seeds from the Japanese Kochia tree, with seaweed to enhance the umami and salinity of the dish, and then serves it over lettuce with red sorrel leaves on top. The addition of pea and miso puree, which was supplemented with almond and lemon cream for dolloping over the “caviar,” elevated the dish to a new level.

Creating your own lettuce wraps contributes to the overall feeling of food theater, and it is one of the many delightful participatory moments on the menu. In another, a fried sweet pepper that is reminiscent of a jalapeo popper is served with four pepper-based sauces that demonstrate the variety of the vegetable.

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Tonburi, served with pea cream and baby lettuce, is meant to resemble a caviar course.

Photographer: Gary He for the Bloomberg News agency

The single finest item on the menu, on the other hand, is not really a course in the traditional sense. If the sunflower bread is delicious, we won’t feel bad about asking for seconds. (Each of which will be gladly provided.) Laura Cronin, a pastry chef in New York City, transforms chickpeas into baked pastries that have the buttery flakiness of those created with animal ingredients. The aromatic, crispy-textured laminated rolls are served with more nut butter on the side and are shaped into a dramatic Art Deco flower that is covered with a black miso glaze for a striking presentation.

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It’s difficult to imagine that these rolls are made without dairy butter.

Photographer: Kate Krader for the Bloomberg News agency

Humm, who is working the dining room on opening night, acknowledges that “once we had the bread and butter, we knew everything would be OK,” despite the fact that the restaurant offers a fully vegan cuisine. Those in attendance, including Angelina Jolie, Steve Ells, creator of Chipotle, and a slew of other industry giants and happy-go-lucky gourmet consumers, appeared to agree that the venue needed a boost.

Despite all of the discussion about the menu being a step into the bright new world, several items elicit a strong feeling of déjà vu.

A cool meal of celtuce, sometimes known as Chinese lettuce, served with rice porridge has previously featured on the menu. Previously, the celery-like vegetable was cooked using dairy butter; now, the kitchen is incorporating more sunflower butter into the broken rice to make it more nutritious.

A portion of the last dinner, half an eggplant roasted until it is extraordinarily sweet and caramelized, is served with tomato and glazed radishes, which Humm has also repurposed. It had formerly been flavored with bonito, which had been replaced with smoked tuna flakes, which had been banned from the kitchen. Humm has experimented with the proportions of mushrooms in order to get an earthy undertone.

If you find that a chef spent two days preparing it, including cutting cuts with a razor blade, you will be even more satisfied. Alongside is a mound of crisp beans on a bed of cocoa bean puree, as well as a dish of sliced summer corn kernels that have a cheesy taste to them, due to the inclusion of fermented almond cream, which has been blended with grits. Probiotic cultures (e.g., bacteria that would be added to dairy to transform it into yogurt or cheese) supplied from Brooklyn’s Kingdom Supercultures are responsible for much of the dish’s deeper umami qualities.

Although everything at the new EMP is plant-based, there is no shortage of food to go around. The five-hour lunch (most take at least four hours, if you consider the time spent in the kitchen) left us feeling like two ripe-to-bursting watermelons when we left it. It’s difficult to see someone leaving the building and going across the street to get a Shake Shack burger when they’re done with the show.

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The beet is followed by an eggplant dish with tomato and coriander as the concluding course.

Photographer: Gary He for the Bloomberg News agency

Because the ingredients on Humm’s ingredient list are comprised of items that are less expensive than imported langoustines and dry-aged veal, he refers to this as the “new meaning of luxury.” “A piece of kobe beef is pricey, but it is not exceptionally rare. “A fermented sauce that has been fermented for 100 years is quite uncommon,” stated Humm in an interview on June 9.

Two shojin chefs worked at the restaurant for three months in preparation for the menu’s launch in September. The plant-based cuisine, which has roots in Kyoto monasteries dating back to the 7th century, is centered on the rituals associated with the preparation of vegetables.

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Preparation of the eggplant takes two days in total.

Photographer: Gary He for the Bloomberg News agency

Grinding sesame seeds is one of the new preparation responsibilities provided by the shojin specialists. The pressed sesame serves as the foundation for the marinated and grilled tofu, which is then topped with three distinct squash pickles and two different types of squash ribbons, all of which are made from squash. The chocolate pretzels presented at the conclusion of the dinner on a rack are flavored with a paste of toasted seeds; they are another highlight of the evening, along with the bottle of handmade apricot vermouth that was generously poured for guests.

Each morning, the process of crushing the seeds takes almost an hour to complete. The shojin technique necessitates the chef being sitting on the floor and pushing in a counterclockwise direction. “You’ve been sitting on your knees for an hour now….” “Even if you’re in agony, it causes you to slow down,” explains Humm.

Toshio Tanahashi, one of the shojin chefs, recommended that Humm allow Eleven Madison Park’s visitors ground their own seeds, which Humm agreed to. “He also urged that visitors refrain from using cutlery,” Humm says with a giggle. “We didn’t take it into consideration.”

Humm is also permitting cow milk for cappuccinos and honey for tea, which are the only non-vegan items in the kitchen, out of consideration for their guests’ comfort. Even the family dinner, which is the cuisine offered to restaurant personnel before service begins, is made entirely of plant-based ingredients.

“We’re not in the business of becoming food police,” he argues. Even yet, the chef is unsure of what the restaurant will do if someone requests permission to bring in butter made from animal products. “I’m not sure,” he admits at long last. A resident “dreamweaver,” the restaurant has verified, will continue to answer to clients’ unusual requests and deliver moments of happiness, such as handing out White Claws to two celebrants, with a bespoke sticker over the label reading: “Ain’t no foie, but Claw is still the law.”

At the bar, a six-course version of the complete menu is available for $175 per person. The bar, like the dining room, is completely booked out until July, while a few walk-in seats are available each night during that time. Before you even order a drink in the main dining area, the bill will come to $730 for two people, which includes tax and gratuity. Starting at $175 per person, wine pairings are available, as are specialty cocktails, which range from $22 to $27.

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The dining room on the first night of service.

Photographer: Gary He for the Bloomberg News agency

Eleven Madison Park’s cocktail selection is free of seasonality and, like the restaurant’s meal, concentrates on a single core fruit or vegetable taste in order to create a cohesive experience. In addition to the Sugar Snap Pea vodka tonic, a Melon sherry sour, and a Tomato margarita are also available.

Despite the significant alterations to the food, the wine selection has remained the same as before. A new trend in wine is to match heavy-hitting wines, such as a 2014 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage that pairs well with meaty duck, with aged beets in red wine, which works surprisingly well. Watson Brown, the restaurant’s wine director, says the restaurant did not contemplate selling off the cellar and heading in an all-organic or natural path, which would have been more in line with the new menu. “We have always championed wonderful wines of all varieties, and we will continue to do so,” he adds.

With regard to the possibility of a revenue shortfall from the sale of high-end Napa cabernet that would pair better with protein-rich foods, Humm is unconcerned. The duck would be simpler to accomplish if it were a money-related situation.

“A year ago, I didn’t know whether Eleven Madison Park would still be there,” Humm recalls. “I was laying off employees and considering filing for bankruptcy.” Even two months ago, when he made the decision to explore a vegan menu, “it wasn’t certain whether or not people would show up.” We decided to stick with what we were familiar with. Reservations were scooped up in a matter of minutes, as everyone is now well aware.

When the Eleven Madison Park meal kit returns in the autumn, Humm assures that no animal products will be included in the meal for individuals who are unable to acquire a seat at the restaurant.

Cuisine Type: Contemporary, Innovative

Specialties:
Eggs Benedict with a layer of cream, smoked ham, gelee with smoked sturgeon caviar and espuma

Portobello and a cremini mushroom stuffed with a breadcrumb and truffle mixture

Donut with crisp and crunchy shell, filled with pear and cranberry, dusted with cinnamon sugar accompanied by ice cream of mulled wine

Address: 11 Madison Ave., New York, 10010, United States

Phone: +1 212-889-0905

Website: Eleven Madison Park Official Site

Hours: Closed: Monday, Tuesday, lunch : Wednesday-Sunday

Michelin Stars: 3