maître d’ - For Manhattan Dining, It’s Eleven Madison Park
Written by Gregg Henglein
Since opening its doors in 1998, Manhattan’s Eleven Madison Park has developed from the new kid on the block to one of Manhattan’s true fine dining experiences.
The evolution of Eleven Madison has culminated with receipt of its first ever Michelin Star, an international sign of culinary brilliance for more than a century.
The award was described, fittingly, as “the perfect cherry to top off what’s been an awesome year for us,” by General Manager Will Guidara. In 2009, Eleven Madison was inducted into the exclusive Grand Chef Relais & Chвteaux association, becoming one of only six restaurants to get a 4-star review from the New York Times and became the 9th most popular restaurant in Zagat’s even before August’s receipt of the Michelin Star.
The restaurant is exquisite. Its dramatically high ceilings and magnificent art deco dining room featuring a marble and nickel-walled hall are majestic, yet welcoming. Grand windows offer guests lush views of historic Madison Square Park. “It can be intimidating,” Guidara says. “The feeling we hope we’re giving people is the balance between feeling like they’re going out and feeling like they’re coming home.”
No stranger to the Michelin Star is executive chef Daniel Humm, a Swiss native who joined Eleven Madison in 2006 but who, in 2002, earned a Michelin Star at Gasthaus zum Gupf in the Swiss Alps. He moved to the United States in 2003, joining the esteemed Campton Place restaurant in San Francisco before heading East with a different approach. “In San Francisco, you think more fish, rice,” Humm notes. “[In New York] it’s different weather. You think earthy, hearty dishes.”
His culinary philosophy, he says, evolves. “It’s always been focused on great, precise ingredients, but it’s become ‘less is more.’ Push the quality of ingredients even further, but do less stuff on a plate. That comes with confidence as a chef”. As an example, he offers up a Hawaiian prawn, poached and dressed with crиme fraоche, diced green apple, and lime juice, then wrapped in a thin slice of avocado.
“Simple never means less work,” Humm notes. “It just appears simple.”
It seems obvious that the smiling, puffy white figure with a spare tyre – OK, several spare tyres – would know the best places to eat. With that in mind, the Michelin Guide has been directing dining enthusiasts to the finest establishments for mouth-watering cuisine of every nature for more than a century.
Michelin’s reviews are conducted not from a single visit, but from several visits to the same establishment. No meals are complimentary, and all reviews are done anonymously.
The guide evaluates restaurants based on:
- The quality of the products
- Mastery of flavour and cooking
- The ‘personality’ of the cuisine
- Value for money
- The consistency between visits
Guide director Jean-Luc Naret notes that the guides are “filled with a year’s worth of notes from the team of inspectors who set out to ensure the Michelin Guide provides a wonderful dining recommendation from trusted experts”.
The guides, which are available internationally, include the broad scope of an entire country – such as France – or a focal point, e.g. Paris.