Eleven Madison Park

Blurry/happyI can't let another minute go by without writing about my dinner at Eleven Madison Park. I saw a New York Post blurb this morning about Roger Federer eating there last night and decided that was it. I had to write about the dinner experience that was like being smack dab in the center of the world's most perfectly choreographed theater performance with food that blows your mind. I chose to stay in New York for my birthday this year but wanted a dinner that I wouldn't normally go to. So all my usual favorites were out and Andy booked at Eleven Madison Park. EMP was originally opened by Danny Meyer (Shake Shack!) in 1998 but it wasn't until Chef Daniel Humm took over in 2006 that the restaurant's prestige grew and it became an international sensation. Chef Humm is now one of the owners, along with general manager Will Guidara.

The entire menu is being overhauled and after Labor Day will be turned into a $195-a-head "extravagant, participatory, close-to-four-hour ode to the romance and history of New York," said the The New York Times. So I am especially glad to have experienced it the old menu...and now must go back for the new.

You are given a sheet with 16 ingredients on it and asked to choose one from each row if you are doing the four-course tasting menu. You're then asked what you don't like in your food (me: raw red onion). And then the show begins.

It starts and ends with black and white cookies, a New York deli classic. These are anything but classic except in look. The first cookies are savory, with truffle and parmesan, and the last are sweet. Many of the dishes already reflect New York's history, like a "clambake" with tomato snow and corn chowder. A four-course tasting menu ended up being 12 or 13 courses because of everything they bring out. I can't remember it all: greek yogurt pops and a fried chickpea square, couscous with dehydrated olives and tomatoes, poussin with quinoa and pickled ramps, a New York egg cream, a caramel popcorn bon bon with unlimited cognac towards the end.

At the end, they send ladies home with a mason jar of their homemade granola. "We hope you have a great breakfast tomorrow morning," they said. And oh, the granola is addicting - sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy. The experience got to last to the next morning.

GranolaIt is a place that is best for the most wonderful occasions in life. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and whatever else - just please don't propose in a restaurant EVER - EMP is your place. Our reservation was for 7:30 p.m. and we left at midnight. From Eleven Madison Park, with warm service, innovative bites, and soaring ceilings in a landmark Art Deco building, we were forced into the real world with cars honking, humid air, and strange smells. But still on a high, granola in hand.