The iconic and highly decorated New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park used to tempt the city; wealthiest foodies with a menu based on items like imported caviar and braised celery root in pigs’ bladders.
But not any more. In a story in the New York Times the chef Daniel Humm announced that Eleven Madison Park, which has been closed since last March by the pandemic, is going to reopen with a plant-based menu.
“It became very clear to me that our idea of what luxury is had to change,” Humm told the NYT. “We couldn’t go back to doing what we did before.”
In a post on the restaurant’s website he added
“I’m excited to share that we’ve made the decision to serve a plant-based menu in which we do not use any animal products — every dish is made from vegetables, both from the earth and the sea, as well as fruits, legumes, fungi, grains, and so much more.
We’ve been working tirelessly to immerse ourselves in this cuisine. It’s been an incredible journey, a time of so much learning. We are continuing to work with local farms that we have deep connections to, and with ingredients known to us, but we have found new ways to prepare them and to bring them to life.
I find myself most moved and inspired by dishes that center impeccably-prepared vegetables, and have naturally gravitated towards a more plant-based diet. This decision was inspired by the challenge to get to know our ingredients more deeply, and to push ourselves creatively. It wasn’t clear from the onset where we would end up. We promised ourselves that we would only change direction if the experience would be as memorable as before.”
As the NYT article points out the culinary world has come a long way in the last eighteen months with ongoing questions about the sustainability of meat and seafood-based diets. It is the tectonic shift that has prompted the move.
Although the menu has evolved the price still remains premium with the multi-course menu costing $335, including tip.
The restaurant’s evolution could have a profound impact on the future of fine dining. For starters, Humm owns a London restaurant, Davies and Brook at Claridge’s hotel, which in theory could be next to go plant-based.
Ruth Reichl, the former editor of Gourmet magazine and restaurant critic for The New York Times from 1993 to 1999, said Mr. Humm’s example could influence the direction of American restaurant cuisine in the years ahead.
“A restaurant like Eleven Madison Park is basically a teaching institution.”
The restaurant will not however be fully vegan. It will offer honey on the menu and clients will be able to order hot drinks with cow’s milk.