For 2016, Daniel Humm and Will Guidara switched to a gratuity-included system — dinner is now $295 per person (versus $225 last year, without gratuity included). But that's not the only big change-up that the EMP team has in store. Later this month, Humm and Guidara will introduce a brand new style of service inspired partially by classic East Harlem Italian restaurant Rao's. Guests will have more choices than they did before, and the dinner will have fewer courses — around seven compared to the current 14. Some of the dishes will be served family-style and the meal will be a bit shorter.
Humm and Guidara say that the long-format New York-inspired menu was successful, but this new style will reflect more of their current tastes and attitudes about service. Humm says that a monochromatic dish that he recently introduced — celery root braised in a pig's bladder — helped him re-think the menu. The chef explains: "That was sort of the first dish where I felt like I unlocked something." Some of these new dishes will be larger than the courses that EMP has been serving. Guidara remarks: "We want it to be the kind of thing that when you leave, you remember all of the courses."
The servers will interact with the guests less than they do now. Just like at Rao's, at the start of the meal, guests will converse with the servers about what they want to eat, and the meal will roll out based on that initial conversation. Guidara explains: "It's not about us just serving you the meal we think you should eat." The new version of Eleven Madison Park will make its debut on January 19.