It was a celebratory night for many in the New York restaurant world last night. Eleven Madison Park received a much deserved, four-star, stellar review from Frank Bruni of the New York Times.
The grand dining room was almost packed when I arrived, with several of the city’s top chefs, the EMP’s current staff and many former employees toasting each other and congratulating owner Danny Meyer, chef Daniel Humm, general manager Will Guidara and wine director John Ragan.
It’s one of the most dramatic and beautiful dining rooms in the city, with its Art Deco design, high ceiling and large windows facing Madison Square park.
For most of its 11 years it was a very good restaurant. The addition of Humm in the kitchen and Ragan in charge of the wine list since 2006 (the two worked together at Campton Place in San Francisco before coming to New York) elevated the dining experience, placing EMP among the city’s elite culinary establishments. It has a Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator for its wine list and is one of six restaurants awarded four stars by the Times (the others are Daniel, Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, Masa and Per Se).
The Champagne was flowing and the music pulsing as the crowd partied into the night. At one point, Ragan sabered a jeroboam of Bollinger R.D. 1988, sending the top of the bottle in a perfect trajectory over the DJ and between two large glass vases.
My evening started at another historic dining room. Gilt is housed in the Villard Mansion, an Italian Renaissance design that serves as an ideal setting for chef Justin Bogle’s creative and complexly flavored cuisine. Wine director Patrick Cappiello is putting his signature on the 1,300-selection wine list, also with a Best of Award of Excellence, after stints at the Grand Award-winning restaurants Tribeca Grill and Veritas.
My friend Gregg Perkins was in town from Jacksonville, Fla., along with his colleague Zingo Munger. We ordered a Sancerre Les Mont Damnés 2007 from Pascal Cotat, a racy mouthful of Sauvignon Blanc that matched its chalky intensity with smoke, celery seed, anise and chive flavors.
We followed that with a comparison of Roumier’s Chambolle-Musigny Les Cras and Morey-St.-Denis Clos de la Bussière, both 2006. The Les Cras was a study in limestone austerity, reserved and tightly wound though perfumed, while the Morey offered more muscle, flesh and rich fruit, reflecting the clay content in its soil.
Cappiello generously poured us Foucault’s Saumur-Champigny Clos Rougeard Le Bourg 2004 and Syrah Côtes du Rhône Château de Fonsalette Réservé 2005. The Cabernet Franc was richly endowed with ripe black currant fruit and a smoky, mineral element. The Syrah was very elegant and more reminiscent of the Northern Rhône with its lilac, violet and blackberry notes.
It was a great vinous tour around France in New York!
Hoyt Hill Jr — Nashville, TN — August 13, 2009 3:38pm ET
Lorenzo Erlic — victoria canada — August 15, 2009 12:17pm ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — August 18, 2009 10:08am ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions