>> Monday, May 30, 2011
What's the hottest restaurant in New York right now?
Well, I know of one place whose chef won the James Beard Award for Best Chef New York City last year. And then, one year later, it nabbed another James Beard Award, this time as Outstanding Restaurant. On top of all these, it boasts a Michelin star, four stars from the New York Times (one of only seven restaurants!), and is named as one of S. Pellegrino's Top Fifty Restaurants in the World.
Something is definitely buzzing at Eleven Madison Park. Even though this restaurant has been around since 1998, things started to happen when owner Danny Meyer hired Swiss chef Daniel Humm as executive chef and Will Guidara as general manager in 2006.
More recently in September 2010, they made some even more bold changes. For one, they reduced the number of seats by about 30%. Their goal? - to make Eleven Madison Park more of a special destination, a place that offers a "rarified experience to a smaller number of diners."
The friendly, accessible neighborhood restaurant is joining the big leagues now. Gone is the option for a la carte dining in the dining room (you can still order that way at the bar). Even the simple one or two course lunch (only $28!) is gone. Everything is a tasting menu now: three to four courses at lunch; four or five courses at dinner.
The most interesting change? The menu.
Yep, that's it! No more fancy descriptions of the dishes and all their little components. Instead, your meal is inspired by the ingredients. Mr. Guidara calls this more like a "dialogue" since you can tell the chef what you like or don't like and he can take that into consideration.
This flexibility also allows the kitchen to be more nimble, giving them the ability to change items at moment's notice.
I've been wanting to try this place for quite some time now. I was thrilled when several New York food bloggers were willing to take an extended lunch on a Friday to join me for a special meal at Eleven Madison Park.