lunch at restaurants i can't afford dinner: eleven madison park
Is there a more appropriate restaurant than Eleven Madison Park to continue our “Lunch At Restaurants I Can’t Afford Dinner” series? @SimpleSocial treated me to a belated birthday lunch here recently, where a two course prix fix meal is offered for $28. It’s still special occasion fare, but when compared to the unremarkable $19 burgers and insipid $12 make your own salads that are the norm in my work neighborhood, you realize even more just what a great deal you're getting. Eleven Madison Park was awarded four stars by the Times over the summer - I've never eaten at a four star restaurant before! It's part of Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group - I've never eaten at one of his restaurants before either! It's no joke when people talk about the high level of service at his restaurants. Our waiter was attentive without being overbearing and informative without being show-offy. He was knowledgeable about wines and even plated the desserts.
We began with a round of amuses. In the foreground, duo of beet marshmallows and foie gras with red currant atop a very delicate cracker. Both Molly and I broke our crackers between the plate and our mouths. We were both trying very hard to be proper and ladylike, but I guess we are too strong for our own good. Perfect, fluffy gourgeres, a dish of sea salt and butter are in the background.
Molly's first course: the slow poached organic egg with Parmigiano-Reggiano and mushrooms. Foamy deliciousness on top.
I opted for the balik salmon with pommes dauphine, frisée and crème fraîche to begin. There was also a bonus circle of salmon tartar in the middle. The balik salmon was so tender and perfectly smoked.
For my second course, I went with the day's special of pork loin, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. As with my first course, my protein was prepared two ways, which I didn't anticipate. Paired with the loin was basically a hockey puck made of pork, if hockey pucks were amazingly crisp on the outside and amazingly porky and fatty on the inside.