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Eleven Madison Park

A spectacular reinvention.

11 Madison Ave. at 24th St.
Phone: (212) 889-0905

Dinner: Sun.-Thurs. 5:30-10 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 5:30-10:30 p.m.
Lunch: Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Brunch: Sat. & Sun. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Not many restaurateurs are as skilled at pulling off a top-notch
$4.75 burger (Shake Shack) as they are a $145 haute French tasting menu
(Eleven Madison Park). But Danny Meyer has built an enviable empire of 11 winning lowbrow and high-end restaurants.

On
a recent evening, the famed Shake Shack burger drew a line that spanned
the length of an entire city block. I was en route to Eleven Madison
Park, the most opulent feather in Meyer’s cap, when the sight of cheese
fries and custard at the pickup window nearly lured me off course.

Had I caved, I would’ve missed one of the most spectacular meals in recent memory.

New Yorkers should be pitching tents outside Eleven Madison Park for executive chef Daniel Humm‘s
cooking. Taste his brilliantly complex foie gras terrine; it arrives
draped in a tart dicing of rhubarb, celery and pickled ramps with a
crusty foil of Indonesian pepper brioche. He completes this with a
luscious accompaniment of rhubarb foam atop foie gras mousse.

Though Eleven Madison Park has been an attractive fixture on Manhattan‘s
upscale dining circuit for nine years, it has undergone a masterful
transformation that began two years ago when Humm and sommelier John Ragan were recruited from the Campton Place in San Francisco. Since their installment, this restaurant has slowly been reborn into a stellar temple of haute French cuisine.

Humm’s
foams, reductions and drizzles have huge payoffs. An intoxicating
Bordelaise sauce that’s poured tableside uplifts a moist tenderloin and
braised beef cheek. A simple drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
works wonders to sharpen every distinguished flavor in an appetizer of
gnocchi mingled with shrimp, calamari and a triumphant accent of
candied Meyer lemon.

The menu’s bursting with sensational
dishes: a peerless suckling pig confit capped off with a crackly strip
of skin; a tuna tartare paved with a scene-stealing avocado cream, and
a roasted loin of lamb with crispy wisps of artichoke.

As far
as big-ticket dinners go, the chef’s tasting menu is a decadent splurge
that’s worth every penny. It’s a thrilling procession of 11 courses,
one more successful than the next: a glistening halibut with a curl of
sweet crayfish, followed by a succulent pork belly crowned with mint
leaves.

Having also trained in pastry, Humm demonstrates
remarkable versatility, conceiving a strong selection of desserts. The
most memorable were a fluffy quark cheese soufflé and a “chocolate
peanut butter palette” that looked and tasted like a sophisticated riff
on a crunchy candy bar.

Meyer has assembled an all-star team.
Sommelier Ragan has amassed a 2,000-bottle wine collection with
affordable offerings. Beverage director Sam Lipp recently launched a rigorous cocktail program that competes with the city’s best cocktail bars.

The lavish dining room is elegantly appointed with soaring ceilings, marble floors and a sweeping view of Madison Square Park.

And
somewhere in the kitchen, an ambitious young chef makes waves with
faultless cooking that reminds you why classic institutions like these
thrived in the first place.

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