Welcome back to our incredible meal at Eleven Madison Park. If you haven’t read Part 1 of our number one meal of all time, please go back there and come back here when you’re done!
So where were we?
Oh yes… we had just had some salsify and realized our cocktails were, sadly, empty. So it was time for wine (while I was tempted by the wine pairing, I was nervous that I would be too drunk at the end to really enjoy and remember the meal… so we went for a bottle instead). We told the sommelier that our favorite white wines were Vouvray and Russian River Chardonnay. He mentioned that we had diverse flavors and we discussed trying something that was interesting. He recommended we try a WHITE Rioja. I hadn’t heard of a white Rioja, but we were game. It came in netting. How fun!
The wine tasted great and complimented the whole meal well. Must keep white Rioja in mind!
But now… back to the meat grinder!
We were soon given a tray of a whole bunch of mini bowls. From left to right and top to bottom, there was an apple mustard, sunflower seeds, quail egg, dried blue fish, chives, whole grain mustard, horse radish, apple, and salt (the same special salt as before). In the little squeeze bottles were an apple oil and the other was a horse radish oil of some kind.
It was also served with slices of rye bread.
But what was going into the meat grinder? Never would have expected this…
Fresh New York carrots were ground for us right at the table into “carrot tartare.”
It made a great consistency that was neither mushy nor crunchy, but exactly the same texture as tartare. How interesting!
You then mix in however much of anything you want and enjoy.
I really enjoyed the taste of the quail egg with the carrot.
Our next course was one of my absolute favorites. It was lobster with poached leeks, black onion, and a shellfish bisque. I also think one of the waiters mentioned it had black garlic in it (one of my favorite flavors). This was everything right. The leeks had a delicious char flavor and the lobster was so sweet and flavorful. It all went so well together and I couldn’t believe how elevated this dish was. (Come on! How do you possibly elevate LOBSTER?! Amazing!)
As we were finishing up, we were presented with our 140 day aged beef.
And we saw the duck (that we didn’t choose) presented to the table next door. It was lavender and honey coated.
While we awaited our beef, we were presented with a roasted parsnip with sesame, parsley, and dijon. It had a parsnip chip on top. I am not a huge parsnip fan, but this was a really fantastic presentation and all the textures made it very interesting. I was impressed that a parsnip could be made to taste this good.
Once we finished our parsnip, a bowl of magic was put in front of us. I cannot do justice to the smell (and taste) that came from this bowl. It was an introduction to the flavors we would be having next, a beef broth made with the same seasonings as our next course. It was a nostalgic flavor that brought me immediately back to my Great Grandmother’s kitchen. It was a memory I didn’t even know I had. Smell is a magical thing.
After our incredible broth, we were given our beef course. It was grilled with mushrooms (the likes of which was a variety I have never seen), amaranth, and arugula. The amaranth is a tiny North American grain that was toasted and added a perfect little crispiness to this dish. It was served with a sauce with the same flavors as the broth.
On the side was a braised oxtail with foie gras and potato. The oxtail was the texture of short ribs and incredibly rich in flavor. The foie gras and the potato had such a great flavor, and it was all a bit reminiscent of a (brilliant) shepherds pie with that potato/meaty combo.
The rib eye steak itself was absolutely incredible. Charred and perfectly cooked, with an amazing sauce. Every bite made me do the “happy belly dance.”
What came next was one of my favorite parts of the whole meal. It started with a porcelain plate that perfectly resembled a paper plate.
And then out came a mystery basket they called a “Greensward.”
They said everything we would need was in the basket, except we may need a bottle opener, which they provided.
We took a peak
Inside was a beer, a soft pretzel, cheese, grapes, and plum mustard.
I commented that the restaurant was like Christmas, because you just got to keep opening up presents.
The beer was a special brew from Ithaca Beer Co. and we really enjoyed it. It was perfect with everything.
I went to Ithaca College and always liked this brewery. I’m so glad it’s growing and now showing up all over the place in NYC!
The plum mustard was a bit much for me (not a mustard fan), but Mike liked it.
The cheese was served inside a mystery box…
… and the cheese smell when you opened it was awesome.
The grapes and pretzel went perfectly with the cheese and beer. It was just a perfect picnic basket and totally FUN!
After we were done with our picnic, they wheeled over a cart and started mixing up their take on the egg cream. It was made with vanilla malt and fresh seltzer right in front of us.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a real egg cream, but I can tell you that I never have had, nor probably will ever have again, an egg cream as good as this. It was a little glass of heaven.
It was a great conversion from our savory courses to our desserts.
Our first dessert came out and looked like autumn on a plate. It was poached pear with honey and acorn. (Acorn?) I don’t know what acorn tastes like, but if that was what we ate, I think I want to be a squirrel.
This was perfect. Everything I could possibly want. Totally my kind of dessert. I absolutely loved this combination.
And then we had some excellent coffee.
And started our last course: sheep’s milk cheesecake and port with walnut ice cream. I really loved the walnut ice cream. It was very mildly walnut flavored, but identifiable so. The port and the cheesecake mixed so well with everything.
And then Mike cheated.
He noticed that the plate below his dessert was moving around and he lifted it to find a little chocolate in a dish below.
At which point our poor waitress (noticing he made this discovery) ran over (with grace) and asked us to cut a deck of cards. She spread them out and then did some magic and gave us each a card.
Mike’s card was blackberry…
…which was MYSTERIOUSLY the chocolate he had discovered.
Mine was espresso…
…which was my chocolate (surprise!) What a novel and fun way to end such a novel and fun meal!
And then our meal ended just how it began… with a perfect little pastry box all tied up.
And inside was another set of black and white cookies, but these were of the sweet variety. They were apricot and something else, but Mike’s handwriting (he was the note taker for this meal while I photographed) is unreadable at this point (I’m blaming the booze!)
But then… there was one more.
It started with this homemade apple brandy being placed on our table, with the comment that we could drink as much of it as we wanted… I really enjoyed it, but damn was it STRONG! I only had a couple sips, but I enjoyed it.
And then out came two perfect chocolate covered pretzels to end the meal.
We marveled over the incredible adventure of a meal we just had. It was such a journey filled with fun surprises and every single bite was fantastic. Usually tasting menus are filled with a few memorable bites and some other things you don’t remember. Even the best ones. Even a couple days later, we still have moments where we recall a whole bunch of courses from the meal and marvel at how amazing they were.
When the bill came, our server informed us that they had taken the drinks off the bill because they were late. I was really impressed that they went to this level of service to remove the cocktails. But upon reflect, I think they might have taken the cocktails AND the bottle of wine off the bill. I almost feel bad about it, because I’m not sure if they meant to do that. I have no idea!
The service from start to finish was fantastic. There was only the 2 little blips with the cocktails being delayed a bit and then the one egg dish coming out without a description, but I can hardly remember those when put in light of the rest of the meal. Our server, specifically, was impeccable in every way.
As we stood up to go, we were given two cute little boxes to take home.
In our little boxes was a sweet note for a Happy Anniversary.
And 2 chocolates to take home. (We ate these a few days later and HOLY CRAP! They were so insanely good. It was like a spark of the meal we had and brought back all those awesome memories).
Then a final bag with a jar of the chef’s favorite breakfast granola for the next morning. (It is probably the best granola I’ve ever had and I just love when a restaurant sends me home with something awesome for the morning)
What an amazing meal! I don’t know if I could say it enough. It was just freakin’ fantastic.
And we had no doubt as we left that it was the best meal we’ve ever had.
But Eleven Madison Park topped them all.
Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Go immediately to Eleven Madison Park for the meal of a lifetime. (Okay… maybe save it for a special occasion, but GO!)
And I am giving it a perfect 10.
Total Nom Points: 10 out of 10