This three Michelin starred restaurant is an elegant temple to fine dining that was recently 'reinvented' with fewer tables and a smaller number of courses (11 to 7). I have eaten 17 courses at Grant Achatz's 'Alinea' in Chicago, this was mind blowing but I still believe "less is more".
This whole experience blew my mind too. I have no doubt that this restaurant deserves to be called 'No 1 in the World', the service and food were sublime and it was a stylish & elaborate meal I will never forget.
A Classy EMP Welcome
Mandarin Oriental, New York gave me a hotel SUV to get to EMP but road closures for Songkran (Thai New Year) celebrations caused issues.
The restaurant is in the historic Metropolitan Life Insurance Building designed in the 1920s. There is some irony that this is a building which never reached its 30 floors because of the Great Depression. It was made of the same stone as the Empire State Building.
At EMP Jane (a Guest Relations Manager) was waiting to welcome me and we had an interesting chat about Issy & Four Seasons. A classy and truly warm welcome.
The Breathtakingly Elegant Art Deco Room
This Art Deco room takes your breath away with its elegance, 35-foot high ceilings and is flooded with light from the huge windows looking out over Madison Square Park.
A Savoury 'Black & White Cookie'
I thought the pretty string tied gift box on the table was an elaborate decoration but it contained the first course of a savoury cheddar 'black & white cookie' with a delicious sweet apple chutney centre. It was a fun way to start the lunch.
Four Amuse-Bouche Served With A Flourish
Next stacked wooden boxes arrived with some ceremony which echoed the pendant lanterns in the Art Deco dining room.
There was asparagus with cured egg yoke and smoked egg salad; daikon radish with ramps (wild leeks) and Pike roe; Quail eggs with radish & fermented mustard greens; and spring peas with Trout roe & lemon. There were lots of fresh flavours for spring and beautiful presentation.
A Perfect Grey Goose Martini
EMP had some problems producing my very dry (stirred) Grey Goose martini. First it came with lemon, then with olives and finally with the lime twist requested.
However, chatting to staff, and the couple next to me with their gnome, who were staying at the New York Palace Hotel, past the time. I stayed there when Leona Helmsley owned it, she of "only little people pay taxes" fame.
A Cheesecake Appetiser with Smoked Sturgeon & Garnished with Idaho Surgeon Caviar
Next was a elaborate presentation of someone cutting an elegant piece of cheesecake, with an everything bagel base, served with a quenelle of Idaho Surgeon caviar that is only available at EMP and a mussle hollandaise drizzle. It came with a tin of pickled white asparagus.
This was a decadent and mouthwatering appetiser. I savoured every mouthful of the salty caviar and all the various components worked perfectly together.
Decadent Seared Foie Gras
Then it was rich & decadent seared foie gras with asparagus and white sesame. The richness of seared foie gras is always sensational but I managed to get the asparagus all over my Robert Graham shirt. The restaurant brought me 'handy wipes' to deal with this.
Poached Lobster & Dandelion Greens
Meaty lobster butter-poached with ginger and Dandelion greens was the next course.
All I could think about was my French exchange, while at Prestfelde Prep School, when my best friend was shocked to be given Dandelion salad from a field.
A Visit to the Daniel Humm Kitchen
I was then invited to visit Daniel Humm's kitchen. I must admit I rejected an invite to visit Grant Achtaz's kitchen, asking you part way during a meal is a far better idea.
What a contrast with The Dorchester kitchen, sleek and cutting edge modern. I was made a truffle dish, a perfect choice for me.
I got back to a course of snails 'BBQed' with morels and ramps at your table.
An entertaining course and the New York snails had a perfect texture and flavour.
After This It Had to be Krug!!!
After caviar, lobster, foie gras & truffles, and a visit to the kitchen, I had to drink some Krug!
Finally The Main Course
I, almost, could not face the main course after all this. However the dry-aged Duclair duck, with a honey & lavender crust was like nothing I have eaten before. A memorable main course served with rhubarb and spring onion.
This came with mustard greens with garlic & horseradish and snow peas with goats cheese & lemon but I could not eat more than a mouthful of these perfect vegetables.
An Odd Cheese Course
This was followed by Cashew with cheese and fried Thyme. This frothy course was the only one I was far from sure about and seemed unnecessary.
I had started to bond with the rest of the room by this stage of the meal. My New York friend Ed will freaky about this but I actually then did a tour of the room. I needed a walk after all this food! I met a lawyer who had lived in Cayman Islands, ladies from China, a restaurant owner/chef from Mexico etc.
Dessert, We Were Almost Done
Finally, almost, it was chocolate with milk ice cream and shortbread. Cookies and cream reimagined. It looked like two quenelles of ice cream. One white & one dark. The white one was shortbread that had chocolate inside and the chocolate shortbread had milk ice cream inside. Refreshingly delicious.
A New York End
Then came a chocolate covered pretzel. The most beautiful pretzel shape I have ever seen and actually white chocolate mixed with pretzel mixture coated in dark chocolate.
The various New York touches during the meal (eg the everything bagel base to the caviar cheesecake) added to the fun.
This final 'course' was served with an apple brandy that could strip wood!
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - the charming service, memorable & fun food and breathtakingly elegant room and attention to detail really broke the 'teddy score'. The honey & Lavender crust to the dry-aged duck alone was worth 7 'teddies'. My tips:- talk to the other diners and do not eat all of each course, it becomes far too much.