The joy was overwhelming at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants award gala when the third place was announced at Cipriani’s, New York. Daniel Humm, chef of Eleven Madison Park (EMP) was gloriously happy; so much that he went and invited all the chefs to an awesome after party. I was there, too, but I also returned 2 days later to eat myself through his menu.
When the third place was announced, Massimo Bottura ran to Daniel Humm to congratulate him.
At that moment, they still didn’t know that a few minutes later Daniel Humm would stand up and celebrate Massimo Bottura, who made it to the top.
And this is the group picture with the first three in the front and the whole TOP50.
I wrote already in detail and even posted a video about the celebration in Daniel Humm’s restaurant, which was quite grandiose.
The name of the restaurant might sound bizarre to some, but even in Hungary you can find examples of using the postal address as the name of the restaurant: Csalogány 26 (although officially it would sound 11 Madison Avenue, and the park’s name is Madison Square Park). The EMP is very famous but the crowds nevertheless flock to the square for the Shake Shack. You don’t have to reserve there but you do have to queue. The art deco Met Life Tower, just behind the fast food restaurant, was built in 1909 and it kept the title of the highest building for 4 years. Then the Woolworth building dethroned it. (Nowadays they could only compete among the dwarf skyscrapers...) The clock you can see on the picture is on all the four facades, on the 25-27th floors. The EMP is not in this building but in the one next to it, on the left side. It’s on the ground floor of the much smaller but not any less elegant North Building that was once striving to be the tallest building of the world. It was built in 1920, 110 floors were planned but the world economic crisis literally overrode the plans.
When Swiss chef Daniel Humm opened his restaurant, he got his first review after only 2 months. It criticised one thing very heavily: the Miles Davis factor was missing. Although the article failed to provide more details on this, the chef took it seriously; he conducted a thorough research to find out who MD is, and how he could incorporate him to his kitchen. Eventually he found a very spot on solution:
But the chef and his team didn’t stop there. They looked up the 11 most commonly used words about the jazz musician and they put them on a dedicated board in the kitchen:
The top, ‘Make it nice’ sign requires some explanation. When the chef arrived to the United States in 2006, his language skills were still a bit lacking, thus he made up this motto for himself.
In the beginning, it brought smiles but eventually the slogan became official and they proudly advertise it as the “ars poetica” of the restaurant.
Let’s see how it is translated to the menu.
Black and white: savoury cookie with apple and cheddar and then a glass (then an other one and still one more) of Krug champagne
Then the legendary magic box of the EMP:
Peekytoe crab salad
Fava bean croquette
Morel with rye crisp
Widow’s hole oyster with caviar
Another super box and bread, butter:
Caviar benedict with corn and ham
Foie gras marinated in chamomile with white asparagus
Lobster poached in butter, with citrus, daikon and fava bean
Shaved ice in the kitchen as refreshment
Braised asparagus with potato and truffle. The idea came from Paul Bocuse’s Bresse chicken in “half-mourning” which was also prepared with truffles and cooked in a bladder.
Duck glazed with honey and lavender, with spring onion, rhubarb and jus
- new potato variations with flowers
- morel with spring garlic
Hudson-valley camembert with rhubarb and sorrel
Baked Alaska with strawberry, lemon and vanilla ice cream
The Baked Alaska in a video:
Chocolate “name the milk”, pretzel with sea salt
Petit four game, chocolate, brandy, coffee
The restaurant represents a very high standard of hospitality where everyone and everything works together seamlessly for a perfect result. Even the tiniest little details are well planned, the interior design, the design, the plating, the experience is extraordinary. Unbelievable professionalism, fantastic service, amazing food, a lot of ideas and playfulness. We are in America.