Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gourmand Lunch at Eleven Madison Park (food)

I was originally going to go for dinner, but my friend had to cancel and so I "settled" for the gourmand lunch with a different friend. I couldn't end the year without one big meal at my favorite restaurant. This was a couple weeks back, so this was still the fall menu. Some of these items are no longer on the current winter menu.

Hors d'oeuvres of celery sables and hamachi tartare. Lots of celery flavor, but the tartare wasn't anything particularly special.

Amuse of matsutake sabayon with chive oil and a bit of gold foil for decoration. I tend to find the sabayons at EMP too tart for my taste, but this was just perfect. Stirring together the chive oil that's at the bottom really brings it all together.

First course for both of us was the uni cappuccino with cauliflower and peekytoe crab. Unfortunately, my first bite was right into some bits of crab shell, so I let them know and they gave me a new one. I love the flavors but I think it needs to be hotter, and I think the addition of something a little refreshing like apple or celery would make it better.

Our next course was the foie gras torchon with maple syrup, apples, and spiced brioche. This was terrific. Flavorful and dense, with the refreshing apple and the sweet maple syrup. Where is the maple syrup you ask? It's inside the torchon! I didn't take a cross-section shot, but once you cut into the torchon, maple syrup oozes out. Whimsical and amusing.

At my suggestion, my friend supplemented the lobster in place of the scallop. This was the Nova Scotia Lobster navarin with chestnuts, butternut squash, and tarragon. The current menu already has a different preparation, but my friend said he enjoyed this a lot. I've had this before, and think the lobster oil on top of the navarin really brings out the fragrance and flavor.

I had the seared scallop with celery root puree and bits of celery and meyer lemon. It was good, well-cooked, but nothing spectacular.

It was my turn to supplement something as I couldn't finish the year without having chef Humm's suckling pig confit (also not on the current menu). The delicious brick of confit under the ridiculously crispy cracklin skin went perfectly with the cippolini onion and cranberry chutney.

My friend was not a fan of venison, so he switched out the venison dish with this spaetzle with braised rabbit and chanterelles. He said it was good, but he much preferred my brick of confit.

For dessert we had the chocolate peanut butter palette with caramel popcorn and popcorn ice cream. The popcorn and ice cream were amusing, but I really loved the palette. With the crunchy, not quite wafery texture, it was like the best butterfinger ever.

Macaroons to round out the meal. I don't remember all the flavors, but there was violet, peaches and cream, and peanut butter and jelly.

While it was still a terrific meal, I think I much prefer the regular prix-fixe lunch or the gourmand dinner. This in-between just didn't work as well for me.

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