Eleven Madison Park (update), New York City, 5/19/18

exterior
exterior

It’s been several years since we visited Eleven Madison Park, a 3 star Michelin, because their focus seemed to shift to an emphasis on theater over taste.  Recent reviews indicated that there had been a new change in philosophy and I agree that that is the case.  There’s a lot more taste and less gimmick to their meal.  It’s not all gone but what’s left is okay because underneath is a foundation of flavor.  Also they re-did the dining room about 4 months ago and it is brighter with much more comfortable seating in a rich blue velvet.  They changed the bar set up also, so the staff no longer line up on the wall and watch your every move, which I found off-putting.  There is some nice background music, high ceilings and lovely large flower arrangements to enhance your experience.  Tables have good space between them and are set with fine linens.  Service is friendly and not too formal but very attentive, now without being intrusive.  It is an 8 course tasting menu only with choices on several of the courses (same at lunch and dinner).  There are no supplements but they do offer wine pairings and do give you a printed version of your menu when you are through.  The pacing and portion control of the menu are very good.   Continue reading

Atera, New York City, 5/18/18

entrance
entrance

Atera is made up of 12 seats at a u-shaped bar surrounding an open kitchen.  There is an additional table in the back for a group of 6.  Chef Ronny Emborg was in the kitchen with several other chefs but most of the interaction is with the service staff who are a delightful bunch.  The chefs presented and described the dishes but the kitchen doesn’t have much banter.   Lots of good smells greet you when you enter the room as well as old rock music and lowered lighting.  Wood walls and ceiling are matched with dark curtains – all of which help dampen sound – give the room a cozy yet elegant feel.  There is very little noise in the room and conversations tended to be hushed and private throughout the evening.   It is a surprise tasting menu only, a copy of which is given to you when you leave.   Two seatings are offered every night at this 2 star Michelin restaurant which nicely scales the portion sizes of the 18 course menu.   Continue reading

Momofuku Ko (update), New York City, 5/5/18

entrance
entrance

It’s been a couple years since Frankie and I visited Ko, a 2 Star Michelin restaurant and they are still a place worth a visit if you’re in town.   A few cosmetic changes include the entry now being a different door so that you enter into a segregated bar area and then walk through to the dining room.  Still a large U-shaped bar around an open kitchen. The glassed in cabinets on one side seemed fuller, holding lots of aging meats and vegetables. Fairly loud rock music plays in the background and service is friendly and helpful, but there is limited interaction with the cooking staff.  No menu is given for the surprise tasting that all guests have, but one is presented at the end of the meal. They nicely offer a warm wet cloth before you start your meal which is thoughtful as several first bites are finger food.   Continue reading

LYLE’S, London, 4/28/18

building
building

LYLE’S is a medium sized one star Michelin restaurant that served only a la carte when we were there for lunch.  At night they do a tasting menu.  They opened in April 2014 and the restaurant was named after the chef’s mother’s maiden name.  It has a large open kitchen on one side of the space and windows to the street on the opposite side.  Pop/rock music plays in the background and the bare wood tables are set with un-cushioned chairs.  It’s a casual atmosphere with white brick and tile walls, concrete floor, exposed ductwork and some seating at the bar.  The menu changes daily.  The kitchen was happy to split dishes or have you do so at the table and portion sizes lended itself to sharing.  Service was friendly and helpful.   Continue reading

Pollen Street Social, London, 4/27/18

building
building

Pollen Street Social is a large one star Michelin restaurant that spans several rooms.  You enter in the bar area where there is a long counter and a few tables and the main dining rooms are just behind there.  The lighting is fairly dim, jazz music plays in the background, there’s lots of art on the walls, the main kitchen is seen through a glass and the dessert kitchen is open to the dining rooms.  It has some stools at the counter where one can come just for dessert.  Lots of windows look out to the street and the small tables are fairly well spaced, with some utilizing bench seating along the wall.  There is a hum of conversation in the room with noise making conversation sometimes difficult.  They have been open 7 years but service is still plenty attentive, helpful and friendly.  Pacing of the meal was nicely done.  They have a large a la carte menu as well as a tasting one.   We chose to order a la carte and split some of the dishes.   Continue reading

The Ledbury (update), London, 4/26/18

entrance
entrance

This was our third visit to Ledbury, a 2 star Michelin that opened around 2005, but the first visit for lunch.  At lunch they offer a full tasting menu of 6 courses as well as a set lunch of 4 items or a 4 course menu with choices for each course.  There are just 18 nicely spaced tables set with lovely white clothes and napkins along with a different object of art.  The wood floor and columns add to the serene room that has lots of windows and mirrors.  Fancy chandeliers add lighting but in the day the windows bring in plenty of natural light.  The noise level is non-existent but conversations still feel private.  There are a huge number of service people that are helpful, friendly and often smiling.  We chose the four course tasting where we picked our options and of course they added more to it.  Brett Graham is the The Chef but on our visit Greg Austin, Head Chef who has been the there for 9 1/2 years, was running the kitchen.  Regardless of which is there, this place is worth putting on your list. Continue reading

The Clove Club (update), London, 4/25/18

entrance
entrance

Clove Club is a large for a one star Michelin restaurant.  It has a main dining room that serves only the longer of two tasting menu options. We sat in the bar area that requires you to prepay for the shorter tasting menu but offers the option to upgrade to the longer menu when you arrive. Both menus are available in printed form. Bare wood tables and no clothes add to the noise level issues however when we last ate here we were in the main dining room and it was also noisy. Service is friendly and helpful and pacing and portions of the menu are nicely done. Wine pairings are available. We chose the longer tasting menu and ordered our own bottles of wine. Continue reading