Eleven Madison Park
Thu Jun 15 2006
Photo: Cinzia Reale-Castello
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5
11 Madison Ave at 24th St (212-889-0905). Subway: R, W, 6 to 23rd St. Mon--Thu, Sun 11:30am--10pm; Fri, Sat 11:30am--10:30pm. Prix fixe: $68.
Ever since chef Kerry Heffernan left—he moved into catering full-time at the end of last year—diners have wondered if Danny Meyer’s vast, high-ceilinged, Art Deco jewel will ever be the same. New chef Daniel Humm, a young star lured away from San Francisco, has replaced the rustic New American menu with one that’s much more refined and far-reaching. He announces his lofty intentions from the very first bites: The amuse-bouches one night included bigeye tuna tartare, a truffle-scented goat cheese galette, a Kumamoto oyster and a sweetbread spring roll. This was just the beginning. Diners can choose between a three-course, prix-fixe meal or one of three tasting menus (aquatic, spring and gourmand). No matter what you select, the portions and the pacing are, thankfully, measured. But if you really want to know what Humm can do, you’ll opt for a tasting menu. Working with the aquatic theme, he delivers an artful balance of delicate textures and vibrant flavors. Raw, silky scallops bound together by cauliflower mousse get a briny finish from dollops of caviar and sea-urchin foam. Rich butter-poached lobster (pictured) is anointed with a surprisingly effective marriage of two sauces: gewrztraminer and orange soy. At the end of the meal, the chef attaches a signed thank-you note to the little take-home cake; he wants you to leave with his name (and food) on the tip of your tongue. For us, it was already a done deal.—TONY