When discussing the tasting menu at Eleven Madison Park, much of the focus is often on the elaborate, interactive, shared courses such as the carrot tartare or the smoked sturgeon (both of which have been replaced with new courses on the tasting menu). However, many of the individual courses throughout are still updated fairly frequently according to the season, and are available on the bar menu. In fact, even though I was there only a few weeks ago, many of the dishes I'm writing about may already be off the menu.
The ability to have dinner at the EMP bar is great for those unable to do the full tasting menu in the dining room, whether because of cost, time commitment, or the difficulty in getting a reservation. The menu set up was pretty much the same as when I last ate at the bar, although there were only 3 starters, 4 mains, and 2 desserts to choose from. However, the smoked sturgeon course from the tasting menu was available for 2 or more people at $75pp.
CHARLES DE GAULLE: CHARTREUSE, SALTED HOT CHOCOLATE, ANGOSTURA MARSHMALLOWS
HOT TODDY: ISLAY SCOTCH, BLENDED SCOTCH, BENEDICTINE, HONEY, LEMON, AND SPICES
With the record cold winter, hot cocktails were the perfect way to warm up. Both were delicious takes on classics, with the CDG rich in chocolate and the toddy delicate and soothing.
EMP is also one of the few restaurants in NYC carrying Pappy, with the 20-year coming in at $45. I believe their sister restaurant, the NoMad, also carries Pappy, but I don't know the price.
BREAD AND BUTTER
The bread was still excellent, although I thought the crust was firmer this time around. The new hybrid butter, however, was extraordinary. As we had ordered the venison entree, the butter served was mixed with venison fat and chicken liver. It tasted like an amazing chicken liver pate with a rich aftertaste that was somehow even worse for my health because it was mostly butter.
FOIE GRAS; SMOKED TERRINE WITH POTATO, GREENS, AND BLACK TRUFFLE
Pretty much exactly the same as when I had it a year and a half ago, although the shape has change a bit.
While the flavors were all there, my friend thought that the octopus itself was too uniformly soft, and would have preferred a char on it for some texture contrast.
SQUASH; ROASTED WITH CRANBERRIES, PUMPKIN SEEDS, AND SOURDOUGH
This was one of the shared interactive courses for the winter tasting menu which they generously offered to have us try. One of the chefs presents the squash whole, then lifts the lid to reveal a delightful aroma through the puffs of steam. The dish itself was delicious and featured different preparations of squash, providing a great snapshot of the best of fall/winter.
The veal dish seemed simple in concept, but the flavors and textures were well put together. The smoked bone marrow was a unique and excellent touch.
Even before I took a bite, this dish won me over with its aroma. I haven't had a lot of venison, but I'd never encountered a venison dish that had such an amazing aroma of meatiness. The meat itself was very tender without being too soft, and had a very clean taste with just a hint of gaminess/muskiness.
APPLE; SORBET WITH BAY LEAF, CREME BRULEE, AND HIBISCUS
MINT; SORBET WITH FERNET BRANCA AND CHOCOLATE GANACHE
Both desserts were delicious and featured an array of textures. I thought the mint sorbet and the presence of actual mint was standout and a great way to highlight a classic pairing in mint and chocolate.