After having a night-before-my-birthday dinner at Mamma Guidara’s and a birthday lunch at NoMad, we completed the Made Nice trifecta with dinner at Eleven Madison Park. It’s where we always celebrate our special occasions. Most of our monthly visits to EMP are at lunch. However, for our anniversary and birthdays, we always do dinner. And so at 8 p.m., on Monday, October 24th, we pushed through the revolving doors and entered the gorgeous Art Deco room. I know I’ve said this before, but no matter how often we go to EMP, we’re always excited to be there, and the staff is excited to have us there. But we feel a heightened sense of excitement when we’re celebrating a special occasion.
Arriving at our table, I immediately spotted this beautiful hand-drawn card created by the very talented Emily Parkinson.
The interior is at the top of this post. The lovely message and so many of the staff signing gave me a huge case of the warm and fuzzies.
Elizabeth was our captain for the evening while Sommelier John Ross saw to our beverage needs. It’s always great fun having them take care of us. After we discussed menu choices with Elizabeth, John wheeled over the Champagne cart.
It being a celebratory occasion, Michael had his favorite Champagne.
John knows what I like, so my favorite Non-Alcoholic French Sparkling Cider was also on the cart.
As always, our first bites were of the signature cookies which are already on the tables when guests are seated.
Black & White Cookies with Apple & Cheddar
The meal began with a quartet of Hors d’Oeuvres brought to the table by one of the chefs.
Hors d’Oeuvres Tower
The chef disassembled the tower which then becomes four interlocking sections each holding a different hors d’oeuvre connected by a theme: Mushrooms.
Tarte with Black Truffle
Hen of the Woods with Amaranth and Horseradish
Pickled with Apple and Shallot
Beignet with Black Truffle
The Caviar course was next. It’s Chef Humm’s upscale take on Eggs Benedict.
Caviar Benedict with Potato, Leek, and Hollandaise
I don’t eat caviar, so I got this not exactly shabby substitution.
Black Truffle Benedict with Parsnip and Hollandaise
Accompaniment for the Benedicts. Look out, Thomas’s!
House Made English Muffins
Next up: Foie Gras! We had the option of choosing hot or cold. While I generally prefer hot, I’ve found that at EMP, I like the torchons better. And Michael always prefers cold. This one had us both swooning.
Foie Gras Marinated with Plum & Cocoa
At this point, the House Made Rolls arrived along with the Amagansett Sea Salt. However, instead of the usual house made cultured butter, there was something quite different to spread on the rolls: Honey Nut Squash with Sage and Cinnamon that was mixed at the table with some other ingredients.
While it was tasty, I have to be honest and say I much prefer the butter.
For the fish course, we were given a choice between lobster and striped bass. We both chose the latter.
Striped Bass Poached with Fennel and Clams
The vegetable course was Celery Root. Previously, it had been prepared “en vessie.” This time, there was a brand new preparation expertly finished tableside by Elizabeth.
Celery Root en Croûte with Black Truffle
Michael likes to have at least one beer pairing, so John paired this beer with the celery root.
When one of the reception staff arrives at our table mid-meal, we know that it’s Kitchen Visit time! This time, it was Matt who escorted there. When we’re celebrating a special occasion, the kitchen is often the place where we will be greeted with a surprise. Even knowing this, we’ve given up trying to figure out what it might be. And damn it! They do always manage to surprise us!
We walked in and saw that they’d removed the high-top table and replaced it with a table for two. There were place settings and wine glasses which held pours of – GASP! – Château d’Yqem.
After we sat down, Chef de Cuisine Dmitri Magi brought over this.
OMG! Yes, a gigantic White Truffle!
Two plates were set in front of us holding a composition Dmitri had created especially for us.
Ris de Veau, Cauliflower, and Almond
Dmitri spooned on some sauce.
Now, the idea was, of course, for the white truffles to be shaved on top. Next thing I knew, Dmitri handed me the truffle and said, “You do it!”
Well, folks, let me tell you that was no easy task. What took me totally by surprise was that the truffle was not anything like the mushrooms I’m used to cooking with. This baby was hard! Like baseball hard. My first attempt didn’t go well. Dmitri retrieved the truffle, made some adjustments to the shaver, and shaved a few truffles. He made it look so easy!
He handed the truffle and shaver back to me. It still wasn’t easy — you have to put some muscle into it — but I finally managed to get some decent shavings on Michael’s plate.
Dmitri added a lot more and then rained truffles onto my plate.
Dmitri’s creation by itself would have been sensational. Covered with a blanket of white truffles, it was orgasmic! John Ross knows that sweet wine is the one type of wine I like, and you can’t do much better than Château d’Yquem which also happens to be Michael’s favorite sweet wine. Overall, perfection!
We toddled back to our table basking in the glow of the fantastic surprise. The flatware for our next course had already been laid. It included our engrave knives (a gift from EMP for our 45th anniversary) which signaled that the main course would be served.
The choices were venison or Chef Humm’s signature duck. Michael chose the venison but since I don’t care for it, I had the duck.
Duck Honey and Lavender Glazed with Turnip & Huckleberry
Two sides served family style:
Black Radish and Spelt Dumplings
The Cheese Course was an oldie but goodie.
Cheddar Tart with Apple and Mixed Greens
Approaching the meal’s denouement, we chose different desserts. From the photos, you won’t have to guess which was dessert was Michael’s and which was mine.
Pear Sorbet with Caramelized White Chocolate & Riesling
Chocolate Tuile with Crème Fraïche Ice Cream and Mulled Wine
John went a little overboard with the pairings.
Our usual Siphon Coffee was prepared by Whitney Boyer, one of the dining room managers.
Michael always enjoys ending with Laird’s Apple Brandy.
For some time, we’ve been having the Chocolate Pretzels with Sea Salt and the “Name Your Milk” game packed to go. Also in the bag were the take-home gift House Made Granola, menus, and a Birthday Bonbon.
It was a truly magical evening. Outstanding cuisine, spot on pairings, exceptional service, and a memorable surprise. Couldn’t ask for anything more. Plus, we were surrounded by our terrific EMP family. I sincerely appreciate everything they did to make it an unforgettable birthday celebration.
To see the entire photo set for this dinner click here.