Eleven Madison Park (Restaurant Week), Jan., 27, 2006

Eleven Madison Park

My annual lunch at EMP with Dad and Danna was, unfortunately, cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances. However, I was able to get there for lunch on Friday by myself.

The host took me past our usual banquette and up to the northeast section - a new room for me at EMP.

My waiter, Dale, provided the menu and offered my water options attentively and with a smile. I'll get this out of the way now...service was perfect. Wine, water and food were served at a perfect pace and empty plates and glasses as well as unused bread and butter were taken away equally well.

The RW menu offered many different options, nearly all of them appetizing for my palate. Often times during RW, the menus are limited and have one thing you want and several things you will have if you have to. Not the case here. Nearly every dish sounded great and in fact was a tough choice.

In the end, my palate and decision making rewarded me.

I started with the champagne pear soup that was perfect. Hard to say it was anything else. This was the type of soup that reminded me of the cooking at our Country Club when its kitchen was at its zenith. The soup was served not poured table side...perhaps the only thing that took away from the dish. I've always liked the soups at EMP and this was no different. Perhaps one of the better ones I've had at EMP (no offense to Chef Heffernan)and slightly reminiscent of what you might get at L'Impero...but again, without the tableside pour.

I opted for the braised short ribs with broccoli rabe, blue d'auvergne and puree of a root vegetable that escapes me. Jerusalem Artichoke maybe? The short rib was flawless, the puree a nice texture to go with it and the bitterness of the broccoli rabe and the salty earthiness of the blue d'auvergne provided a carnival of flavors and textures. The only thing bad about this dish was the addition of crispy matchstick potatoes. Chefs of the world take note: This makes your dish impossible to navigate and the matchsticks don't allow themselves to be eaten, simply by the nature of them. I mentioned this to the waiter, who agreed.

For dessert...oh dessert. Dessert was a blood orange creamsicle. The base of this dish tasted like the best Good Humor Toasted Almond ice cream bar ever made for man. The tip of this ice cream triangle bar was blood orange ice cream that was simply delicious. The pistachio crumbs added that extra texture and flavor to make it even more well rounded of a dish. The only complaint was that it was very hard and though it was cutable with a fork or carefully angled spoon, it made one feel like you were going to break through the plate. But what a great dish.

For wine I had a 2001 Graves SB. It went very well with the soup.

As per usual, a $25 gift certificate and a dark chocolate maple (?) leaf was given to me with the check. I simply don't know why this place wasn't packed with people. Then again, more space for me to enjoy it. The best RW lunch I've had to date.


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