New York, USA (June 23rd, 2017)
3 Michelin Stars
No.1 at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants
Recently named the best restaurant in the world at The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants Awards, Eleven Madison Park or EMP, as most of us calls it, does not stop. They announced that they will closed their restaurant in June in order to renovate their kitchen and dining room, something that will allow them to reinvent themselves, something they are very well know for.
While the renovation takes place, owners Daniel Humm and Will Guidara will open a more relaxed restaurant in the East Hamptons called EMP Summer House which will have an a la carte menu for the indoor dining room as well as some large groups specials as Fried Chicken Fest and Lobster Boil.
In the meantime, the EMP team decided to make an 11-course menu showcasing the greatest hits from the past eleven years. The menu is super interested as we can see the evolution of Chef Daniel Humm as well as how EMP has gone through phases until finding their own identity.
The Retrospective menu does not follow a specific timeline but rather tries to get the best expression of each year as well as major milestones of the restaurant and Chef. The menu starts with perfect “Gougeres” with grated gruyere cheese, a dish from 2006 and the only which has never left the menu. The second started is a “Sea Urchin Cappuccino” from 2006 which is served in classic martini coupe. The presentation brings you right back in time. Peekytoe crab and cauliflower pairs perfectly with the sea urchin foam.
The 2011 “Clambake” makes an appearance showcasing the time that EMP started to implement intricate presentations as well as the guest interaction with the food. Local pieces exclusively made for EMP takes center stage and adds another dimension to any dish. Creamy clam chowder seats on a bed of hot stones and is beautifully adorned by seafood and house made parker rolls.
2007 is the year of “technique” and “precision” and it can be seen in two dishes of the menu from that year. The perfectly “Prawn Roulade” with avocado and yogurt and the “Poached Turbot” which pays homage to the scaling technique of Fredy Girardet and Joel Robuchon.
The 2004 “Foie Gras Torchon” with maple syrup and pain d’epice is the only dish that precedes EMP times and it was served at Campton Place to Danny Meyer. It is attributed to be the dish that landed Chef’s Humm the job in New York City.
During 2009 we can see Chef’s Humm introducing more table-side dishes as well as more avant garde and modern techniques in the menu as we can see in the “Winter in Provence” with black truffles, celery root, potato, and chèvre frais. This was the first table side presented by EMP.
The 2012 brings more identity to EMP, with several accolades under their belt we can see they feel more conformable stepping out of their comfort zone and start strengthen their name as pioneers and game changers. EMP elevated table-side presentations to a different level, a completely different game. As a great example they feature the “Carrot Tartare”.
Along with presentations an table-sides, EMP pioneered the “Kitchen Tours” making it not only a quick visit but a guided tour of the heart of the restaurant so everyone can see where the magic happens. A cocktails is always enjoyed in the kitchen as you witness one of the best teams work with the upmost precision and elegance.
The main course is a choice of two great hits. After getting rid of the famous “grid menu” and introducing long set menus for many years, EMP has revisited the way they structure their menu and now is more like a conversation. The guest gets to have a choice and in this case is a very difficult one between the 2006 “Suckling Pig” which is confit with rhubarb and onions and the 2010 “Poached Chicken” with black truffles, potatoes and asparagus.
The sweets are perfectly balance showcasing modern techniques with the 2010 “Milk & Honey” and classic heritage with the 2008 “Chocolate Palette” with peanut butter and popcorn ice cream. The petit fours are abundant which was one of the first strategies that EMP used in order to try to achieve their third star. Well done!
On this instance I opted for the non alcoholic pairing which was a great selection of non alcoholic “mocktails” which a surprising use of teas to balance the flavors.
Coffee, tea, and a private label apple brandy make up a great meal at Eleven Madison Park. I can not wait to see how they will reinvent themselves this time.