Eleven Madison Park was just named the best restaurant in America, and we can see why. With Michelin-starred chef Daniel Humm at the helm, the French-influenced bistro serves exceptional greenmarket cuisine that surprises and delights.
Food blogger Julian Fang captured the experience of dining at Eleven Madison Park in spring 2011, for his website Jewelz. He opted for the 11-course tasting menu, which today runs three and a half hours long and costs $225 per person.
While the menu has changed, the decadence remains. We've shared a selection of Fang's photos with permission.Daniel Humm's award-winning restaurant is located in Manhattan's Flatiron neighborhood, on Madison Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets.
The Art Deco-styled dining room features floor-to-ceiling windows and whimsical floral arrangements that reach to the high ceilings.
But let's get to the food. Eleven Madison Park only offers a tasting menu, preceded by light amuse-bouches. First up were these bite-sized cheese gougéres, served warm and sprinkled with salt.
As diners snacked on the pastry puffs, they perused the exhaustive beverage menu. A 2006 Arnot-Roberts syrah wine was selected.
After the wine arrived, a narrow tray of hor d'oeuvres followed. Let's take a closer look at each.
If you like your vegetables best prepared as ice cream toppings, the playful carrot marshmallow is for you.
The tuna tartare blended textures and tastes.
Over the years, Eleven Madison Park has made its famous foie gras seared, cured, and made into pudding. This preparation came topped with an asparagus gelée.
The more recognizable egg quiche tartlet featured mouthwatering (and expensive) morel mushrooms.
The crispy sweetbread-stuffed cornet added a bit of crunch.
Wine glass empty? Swap it out for a mint julep with a bouqet of mint leaves so large, you could wear it as a hat at the Kentucky Derby.
Bread service signaled the beginning of the official meal.
The warm, flaky rolls were made richer by goat and cow milk butters.
The first course, Sterling Royal Caviar, came nestled with spheres of smoked sturgeon and salmon cream.
This course features three different ingredients at three different temperatures: Santa Barbara sea urchin, custard with green apple, shellfish ragout. Together they make a decadent, sour, briny, and somehow great combination.
Here's what the dish looks like once you've cracked the surface.
The garden pea and mint lollipop arrives in a glass vase filled with grass.
Eleven Madison Park prides itself on serving locally grown foods. The Spring Out of Winter course pairs freshly harvested asparagus with Jamón Ibérico.
Another gorgeous foie gras preparation, this melt-on-your-tongue foie gras torchon accompanies tête de cochon, pickled spring vegetables, and horseradish.
Tender, buttery Atlantic Halibut was seared with smoked spring garlic and crayfish.
Each course topped the last. A colorful plate of poached Nova Scotia Lobster featured "young" carrots, ginger, and vadouvan-spiced granola.
The Earth and Ocean course combined land and sea influences. Nearly unrecognizable as chicken, a slow-cooked poussin was served with Hawaiian blue prawns and seaweed.
Four different preparations of Colorado lamb accompanied the large, pink, herb-roasted cut in the center of the plate. The lamb ravioli, lamb sausage, lamb short rib, and sweetbreads proved there's no wrong way to eat it.
A dining room manager delivered the star of the meal, the Muscovy duck stuffed with lavender and glazed with honey, to the table.
Photo by Flickr user T.Tseng.
He carved the bird and plated it right there, so other diners could watch on and drool. The choicest morsels were served alongside asparagus, ramps, and strawberries.
Next, a fromage cart pulled up table-side. The server doled out a selection of artisanal cheese based on the diner's preferences.
These adorable raisin walnut bread sticks paired well with the cheese assortment.
Dinner now transitioned into its final stage: dessert. The "Soda Pop" — which actually made a popping sound with each bite, thanks to a helping of Pop Rocks — was constructed out of tangerine foam frozen with liquid nitrogen.
An interesting take on the milk and cookies, the Milk and Chocolate course combined dehydrated chocolate mousse, caramelized white chocolate sorbet, browned milk solids, and other rich cocoa textures.
The final course, a generous plate of macarons, offered an even greater variety of flavors. The macarons came in pink peppercorn with caramel, chocolate banana, peanut butter, coconut with chocolate ganache, Meyer lemon, toasted sesame with green tea, and grapefruit with fennel.
Don't forget the parting favor: a small box of jellies.
It's easy to see why Eleven Madison Park is No. 1. Now check out the competition.
The 44 best restaurants in America »
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