I've had my share of tasting menus but last night's six-course tasting menu at Eleven Madison Park was one of the best. With wonderful big windows looking onto the lush Madison Square Park, and an interior filled with flowers of all kinds, Eleven Madison Park's atmosphere got the evening off to a great start. The champagne that followed continued the thrill. Usually the tasting menu is a series of small plates, demonstrating the breadth and depth of the kitchen. At Eleven Madison Park, the breadth is more visible because they don't serve everyone the same dish. So each course was actually one thing for Jason and something different for me. Like a creamy pea flan with morels for one and asparagus with goat cheese for the other. Or skate in brown butter and cod. Arctic char and salmon. Each course we ate half of what was on the plate, then switched. So the six-course menu (which actually eight courses counting the tuna tartare amuse bouche and the chocolate soufflé) ended up providing eleven different things to eat.
And wowzers, but were they good! The pea flan was creamy and sweet and the most beautiful shade of green. The four fish courses were each distinct, each wonderful. And the only course that was the same for both of us was a côte du boeuf — beef — that was perhaps the best piece of meat I've ever eaten in my life. It was such a great experience to have so many textures, so many flavors — and with the wine flight we had to accompany it, so many different wine tastes — that I wonder why I'd ever want just a larger plate of one thing. I am fully subscribed to the Thomas Keller school of thought when it comes to portion size: three or four bites is a wonderful amount, enough that you experience it and yet not so much your tongue tires of the flavors. Each last bite leaves you wanting more. And yet the next course comes and it's another exiting adventure and new flavors. I can still nearly taste the pea flan on my tongue!
I definitely recommend Eleven Madison Park and hope to have the pleasure of dining again there someday.