Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

August 19, 2008

Park on Madison

It is really amazing. We were invited to attend a fancy dinner for a 50th anniversary dinner. The party of honor really did it up for us by sending a limo to take us from the condo to the restaurant. We rode around in style. We were whisked away to the 11 Madison Park restaurant.

the limo

11 Madison Park is owned by Daniel Meyer, the man who shaped New York dining and made celeb chefs who they are. Danny Meyer is the guy that made Tom Colicchio a house hold name. Danny Meyer's restaurant empire includes Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern, and this one 11 Madison Park. I have heard of all his restaurants for years now. My cousin and cousin-in-law live in Manhattan, and they send their daughter to the same private school that Danny Meyer sends his daughter to. Danny Meyer hosts his daughter's class to dinner parties at his restaurants, and the kids have eaten at his restaurants multiple times. The kid has dined at 11 Madison Park at least 3 times, yet my cousins, her parents, have not even tried it once. I think through the kid's exposure to excellent ingredients and excellently prepared foods, she has taken an interest in cook. The last time I saw the kid, she was eager to cook for us, so "have at it" I said. I sat back with my scotch and water, watched her cook a 3 course meal for us, and I then sat back and enjoyed the fruits of her labor.

hors d'oeuvres - sorted with tomato, sushi, tart, foie gras, and rabbit

Anyway, back to 11 Madison Park. The service was excellent and friendly. The staff was well dressed and appropriate. I cannot say enough good stuff about the staff and service. They were kind, but not drippy icky sweet. They were knowledgeable, but not haughty. They were attentive, but did not hover. It was the best service I have ever had dining ever.

rabbit hors d'oeuvre

After we were seated and all settled in, the staff brought over lovely plates of bite sized hors d'oeurves. They were tasty and perfect to tie us over while we decide on dinner, a fixed price 3-course meal. The hors d'oeuvres were tomato and cheese, tuna sushi, charizo tart, foie gras cracker, and rabbit. The care it takes to make these thumbnail sized bites is apparent. The combinations of textures and flavors were terrific. I don't think I would make these myself, nor do I think I have the fine dexterity to make these.

amuse bouche - gazpacho with baby basil and melon

We ordered, and the staff brought out an amuse bouche. The bowl contained a wafer of watermelon topped with tiny balls of canteloupe and honeydew, and then topped with baby basil leaves. The staff then poured a bit of smooth gazpacho over the fruit. Then the staff drizzled olive oil over that. The presentation was really laborious. I was scared to have tomato and fruit. I took bites of the orange and green melons with the soup and that was surprisingly good. Then I added a bit of basil to those bites, and again very good. Then I ate the watermelon and the soup, and the soup just changed the nature of the watermelon into something that is almost savory. What a strange sensation to expect a sweet watermelon, but it tasted more like a savory cracker.

first course - tuna tartare

I opted for the tuna tartare for my 1st course. Others got foie gras or gnocchi. My tuna tartare came with baby bok choy leaves and radishes over avocado cream. The avocado cream had a whipped cream texture that I do not care for. I have never liked the texture of whipped cream, and it was a bit much to have that texture in avocado. I quickly scraped the avocado off, and enjoyed the tuna and veggies. I tried the gnocchi, and they were a bit stiff and gummy, kind of like what I could make at home. I was surprised at the toothy texture because I have had a variety of Tom Colicchio's gnocchi which were very light, fluffy, with the essence of the potato still readily available. The gnocchi was still good though.

second course - lamb tenderloin

For my second course, I opted for the lamb tenderloin with roasted artichokes and arugula. The staff poured the sauce over the lamb then dotted it with olive oil. I opted wisely. The presentation was beautiful. The flavor was lamb like but not gamey. The flavor and preparation is unlike any lamb I have ever had. It was delicious and tender. The other entree I tasted was the braised beef cheek with bordelaise sauce. I have never had beef cheek before, but it seems to be a fatty piece of beef with a texture of brisket. The fattiness of the cheek melted away during braising, leaving a really nice melty piece of beef. Others had lobster, pork and char. The 2nd courses seem to be a big hit all around the table.

third course - 4 cheese with berries and nuts

The third and last course was dessert. To relive my France trip, where I always took a cheese course if offered, I ended up opting for a cheese plate instead of a sweet dessert. I got one mild goat cheese, one goat cheese made in a camembert tradition, one a mild aged cow's milk cheese and an epoisse. To accompany the cheese was fig and pastachio, fruit jam, marcona almonds, and port wine jelly. To accompany the whole plate, of which I did not get a photo of, were the cutest baby baguettes about 3 inches long by 1 inch diameter. This was the perfect ending to my meal. The slices of cheese were big enough to have multiple tastes, but small enough to be an appropriate serving. I mixed and matched the the flavors on the plate, and the ultimate combination was the aged cows milk cheese with dried fig on top of a piece of the baguette. Others had a chocolate peanut butter dessert with popcorn ice cream. The ice cream is made from New York grown corn purchased from the New York Green Market. The ice cream was definitely popcorny in flavor, and appropriate for the dish. I don't think that I would eat popcorn ice cream normally, but it kind of worked in this whimsical dessert.

It was a fantastic celebration of a 50th anniversary for sure. As most things go, this good thing had to come to an end. We had to leave before the limo turned into a pumpkin.

Eleven Madison Park on Urbanspoon



At 8/21/08, 4:14 PM, Blogger Diana said...

POPCORN ice cream? Here I've been dallying in cornsicles.

Corn plus butter plus salt, you think? I need myself an ice cream maker. Or a plane ticket.

Can you imagine caramel corn ice cream? Hm...

At 8/22/08, 11:29 AM, Blogger Lannae said...

Oh yea, Popcorn Ice Cream. We were trying to deconstruct the ice cream to see if we could make it. We have no idea. But, Diana Foodie, you may be onto something with the Caramel Corn Ice Cream... mmm, now that sounds yummy on anyday.


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