Eleven Madison Park, NYC 6

August 2, 2010

We celebrated my 70th birthday, July 27, 2010, with a group of friends in the private dining room of Eleven Madison Park.   On July 12 Linda and I had gone to try out the menu which would be served for the party two weeks later. This blogpost describes that meal with a few comments and photos from the actual party added later. (The detailed descriptions of each dish just before the photos come from the souvenir menu which was given to us at the party.)

As usual, a dish of warm, light gougères was put on the table.

Nathan, the excellent sommelier, came by to discuss wines. We tasted by the glass this evening in order to select a red and a white for the party. Linda started with the Pouillon, Brut Vigneron, Premier Cru Champagne, which would be the apéritif for the party. I tried a Spanish Albariño, which I didn’t like. Eventually we selected the 2006 Kellerei Terlan, Nova Domus, Riserva, Alto-Adige Italian wine for the white, a surprising wine suggested by Nathan. It is a blend of pinot blanc, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. We eventually chose the 2007 Belle Pente, Yamhill-Carlton, Willamette Valley, Oregon for the red. A factor in its choice, aside from our general liking for Oregon Pinots Noirs, was how well it went with the lobster course.

The plate of hors d’oeuvres arrived.

There was a surprising unwelcome undertone of sweetness in the three on the right. 
Tomato and basil lollipops were passed. They were frozen on the outside and liquid in the middle. The flavors were intense and delicious.  The bread basket was passed. The white butter was from goat’s milk. It had a lovely, tangy freshness. We asked that both the lollipops and the goat’s milk butter be included in the party menu.
Neither the gougères nor the hors d’oeuvres were served at the party. The amuse-bouche then was little heirloom tomatoes in a tomato water gel with rehydrated basil seeds.

Very good.
The first course was
Salad with Summer Crudités and Wild Herbs
Taboulé takes its influence from the traditional Middle Eastern salad, featuring the classic elements of tomato, cucumber and fresh herbs. Smoked couscous acts as the focus of the dish, with house made labne (a Middle Eastern yogurt cheese made from cow’s milk), an assortment of crudités, and dried Taggiasca olives adding texture and brightness to the salad.

This was surprisingly interesting for what seem to be ordinary ingredients. On the right are a swath of mayonnaise and a cheese ball.

Atlantic Halibut
Poached with Artichoke Barigoule and Tomato
Atlantic halibut is the perfect canvas for the bold flavors of the Mediterranean. Artichokes and fava beans are at their best throughout the summer. Tomatoes are just coming into season, and their sweetness is amplified by slowly roasting them with extra virgin olive oil. The sweetness of the fish and these vegetables is contrasted by the gentle spice of curry and assertive flavor of Buchot mussels.

The fish had been slowly and lightly poached, retaining its flavor. The mussel resting on it had been flavored with vadouvan, a trendy curry variety, giving some punch to a generally subtle dish. 

Nova Scotia Lobster
Poached with Summer Squash and Lemon Verbena
Lobster tail, claws and knuckles are butter poached. A zucchini puree is at the bottom of the plate. Sauteed heirloom squash and a lemon verbena infused lobster bisque surround the lobster pieces and the dish is finished with lobster oil.

The lobster’s good flavor was enhanced by the red sauce with a reduction of lobster shells and a bit of tomato.

Colorado Lamb
Herb Roasted with Eggplant, Cumin and Yogurt
In another nod to classic Middle Eastern flavors, the lamb is slowly roasted with fresh herbs and garlic. A puree of eggplant and sheep’s milk yogurt accompanies the lamb, offering bright acidity that contrasts with the richness of the lamb. Traditional spices that might be seen with lamb — cumin, paprika and coriander — are infused in a rich lamb jus that finishes the dish.
As with the halibut and lobster, the lamb had been slowly cooked to preserve and bring out its natural flavor. The middle eastern garnishes and spicing were classic and good.
“Milk and Honey”
Variations and Textures

This pre-dessert, which was not included in the party menu, was refreshing. Frozen milk covered a white ball with honey inside.
Red Velvet
Cake with Red Currant, Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream, and Cream Cheese Parfait
The quintessential Southern cake is presented as individual elements. The cake itself is accompanied by a cream cheese parfait and cocoa meringue. Fresh red currants as well as a red currant gel contrast with the sweetness of the cake. The dessert is. finished with roasted strawberry ice cream and fresh greenmarket strawberries.

We had asked that the proposed chocolate dessert be changed for something more in keeping with mid-summer. This was just right.
How it looked on my plate at the party:
As always at EMP, we finished with the passing of the tray of macaroons. We only took three.

The trays put on the table at the party:

A bottle of Alsatian pear eau-de-vie, with a whole pear inside, was put on the table. It made a fine finish to our preview meal. The service, pace, ambience etc were all excellent, as one expects here.

One of the centerpieces of the three round tables for six at the party.

View from the private dining room into the main dining room of Eleven Madison Park.

The Champagne apéritif before the meal.
The ambience and service in the private dining room for the birthday party were excellent, flawless and just the right pace. Bravo.

To access all of our Eleven Madison Park posts click here. 
The restaurant’s website:



10 Responses to “Eleven Madison Park, NYC 6”

  1. Mike,

    Happy birthday.

    Heather and I celebrated my 60th birthday at Corrigan’s Mayfair recently.


  2. sue girdwood Says:

    Mike — What a lovely way to celebrate your birthday. Lovely-sounding food, and a happy time with friends and family.

    Again,happy birthday!

  3. Becky Coyne Says:

    Looks like a wonderful celebration for 70 years of a terrific guy! I am sure all who attended were as impressed by the food as we were last year. Sounds like a lovely evening.

  4. Sally Says:

    Happy 70th, Mike! What a grand way to celebrate a milestone birthday. I look forward to your 100th.

    Happy Birthday and many more.

  5. Trine Says:

    Belated happy birthday to you too, Michael! :-)I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts from the places in/around London. From what you say I would be intrigued to visit Harwood Arms and The Ledbury. Your Fat Duck experience is similar to what I felt. I, however, would be pleased to go back.

    Did you ever consider visit The Sportsman, I wonder? 🙂

  6. Timothy P Ojile Says:

    Would love to have been there.
    Happy 70th, Michael.

  7. Jerry Vance Says:

    Once again a milestone is reached. Michael you definatly do style, that tie was a perfect match for the coat and the meal sounded fit for the fantastic chef that you are. Congrats.

  8. ChuckEats Says:

    Happy belated birthday – I hope I’m able to do what you’re doing when I retire! I don’t think I’ve had an 11MP meal during the summer, but that looks like one of the better meals I’ve seen

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