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Pete Wells to Eleven Madison Park: Lay Off the Narration

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Pete "The Punisher" Wells files a surprise "Critic's Notebook" piece today on the new menu at Eleven Madison Park. Although he finds that many of the new dishes are "extraordinarily pleasurable," he just can't get on board with the history of New York narrative that runs throughout the meal.

When each dish is presented, the server says a few lines about the cultural history of New York. For example, when a bag of potato chips is served with the first course, the server notes "the potato chip was invented in upstate New York in the 1800s." Wells's take:

Stilted and earnest, these little homilies recur throughout meal. While people come to Eleven Madison from all over the world, those who live in the city may have to fight back the impatience and urge to interrupt that come with the keys to every New Yorker's first apartment. The narrative tone isn't sharp, it isn't quick, it isn't wised up, and it assumes the listener knows nothing: in other words, it's not a New York voice. By the end of the four hours, I felt as if I'd gone to a Seder hosted by Presbyterians.

Pete is also confused by the way that the "grid menu" is incorporated into the new service, noting: "I had the sense that I was eating two smaller (but still quite substantial) meals that had been welded together to make one supercolossal hybrid." It will be interesting to see if the style of service at EMP changes at all after this early take on the new menu.
· Talking All Around the Food At the Reinvented Eleven Madison Park, the Words Fail the Dishes [NYT]
· All Coverage of Eleven Madison Park [~ENY~]

Eleven Madison Park

11 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10010 (212) 889-0905 Visit Website