We looked forward for weeks to our dinner for my birthday at Eleven Madison Park. The reception was flawless and we were greeted by a brief Happy Birthday Card. The initial server was quick speaking and not very warm. Every other server had a smile and cound not do more to please. It was a four hour eating fest and while the breadth of food was wonderful, it was a huge mistake to not have a printed menu to see BEFORE or during the meal. Too often a server tried to convey the wonderful variety of ingredients without pointing out on the plate which ingredient was which and running away so fast as to not be able to digest the ingredients he/she described. With a menu before ( a la Benu in SF) we could read and enjoy in anticipation of the next course. The Clam Bake, Carrot Tartare, Beef dish and Foie Gras ( seared better than Terrine) was all major hits. The lobster was undercooked and each of the last five dishes were wonderful in presentation and all disappointing in taste. The bakery/ dessert chef needs to try less to be original and more to deliver wonderful taste. We also noted that the pair next to us was greeted by ? the manager and took a "time out" at the bar on the house. When you pay $500+ for two for dinner, you want to be that person who is made to feel that special, not the pair next to the guy getting special treatment. Everyone should get special treatment.
It was in fact memorable but my wife and I both felt the food at Modern and Bouley outshone this restaurant. But given the presentations,we did find it worth out time and palate. We would be more inclined given the food quality to dine here next time on someone else's credit card. Just our opinion. Like another reviewer, we agree that they need to try less and tone down the fluff and focus more on great food quality.
Overall, a favorable romantic, experience with original presentations, generally informative servers and a bit inconsistent food quality leaving us with the feeling that they were trying too hard especially in regard to the dessert dishes. We grade it an "A-"
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