Tuesday, January 18, 2011

11 Madison (Manhattan) 01/2011

The menu at 11 Madison is curiously obscure. It lists only main ingredients, set out on a page something like this.





Patrons choose either four courses and waiters will discuss the way the dish might be prepared, or the chefs tasting menu in which case accounting for allergies and particular dislikes you are in the hands of the chef. We took the tasting menu which turned out to be about 15 courses. The restaurant occupies a very large art deco room with the ceiling at least 20 feet high. There are about two waiters for every three patrons and, because there are so many small serves, they are constantly hurrying to the kitchen and back, laying cutlery, delivering food and removing used plates and cutlery. Presentation of most courses is very simple, often set out on small rectangular blocks. Our first course was an amuse bouche of small, hard, not very light or tasty gougère,
followed by a second amuse bouche, a cheese lollipop. Cute but again nothing special.
Next we had a rich, slightly lemon flavoured very rich cup of seafood veloute
with a tasty finger of seafood flavoured toast. A very delicate small cube of beetroot flavoured marshmallow
preceded a complex combination of pate, truffle and a memory defeating list of other ingredients. I can say it was a lovely dish. The most striking dish, a foam filled egg shell and an oyster in a lemony dressing was next.
The constant lemon flavours were beginning to get a little boring. There were several breads to choose from and two different butters, one a normal butter the othe a truffle butter. A fennel flavoured soup with a good serve of lightly cooked langoustine was a fine combination. Next we had a slab of duck foie gras
which was served with a slice of toasted olive bread.
Relief from these very rich dishes arrived in the form of roasted vegetables with some crunchy topping. Lightly cooked they were pleasant but again quite ordinary.
It was all in the presentation and the spiel. John Dory was particularly disappointing.
It was a very small piece of fish seriously overcooked, quite dry and hard, although the smear of parsnip puree was nice. The last 'main' course, if you could call it that, was a small piece of lamb loin.
Again a very ordinary, rather small serve. A lemon flavoured pre dessert served on a pillow of porcelain was another eye catcher but too much lemon.The next desert was an unusual flavoured ice cream sprinkled with coconut before a series of small tasty sweets.

Unfortunately the chef's menu is a series of individual dishes of varying quality from lovely to awful. It is very unbalanced as a meal and suffers from a concentration on sour and lemon tastes in the seasoning of the dishes. On top of that it is very expensive.
The restaurant is next to Madison Park but really has no view outside. The interior is quite modest art deco with a nice flower arrangement in the middle of the room.
Score 15/20

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