When we first went to Eleven Madison Park, it was a restaurant with just one Michelin star. We had a great meal, although they didn’t have a tasting option at the time. With a three-course meal resembling an introduction, development and denouement, we enjoyed a meal that we were very happy with.
-“One day, this place will have three Michelin stars!” I recall saying as we exited the establishment.
I wasn’t wrong in my prediction. Eleven Mad was promoted to three stars in no time at all. It didn’t stop with Michelin, of course, as it managed to climb to the top on all sorts of major lists. S. Pellegrino declared the restaurant “one of the 50 best restaurants in the world.” The Forbes Travel Guide awarded it five stars, and AAA gave it five diamonds!
Years later, my son Ege and his wife, Sonali, organized a special night here.
This time, the menu included nine courses. After three amuse-bouches, we had dishes that were specially prepared and presented to only the most unique specifications, namely, asparagus, Foie Gras, Cobia, steak fillet, chueflada and chocolate cake with salty caramel ice cream.
As for wine, our food was paired with spirits chosen by famous sommelier Nick Barb:
Amuse-bouche: White, Grüner Veltliner, Pichler-Krutzler, Klostersatz, Wachau 2010
White Asparagus: Same as above
Foie Gras: White Chardonnay, Jean Philippe Fichet, Les Meix Sous le Château 2008
Cobia: Same as above
Beef: Red Grenache, Antinori Tignanello 2004
Chueflada: Same as above
Dessert: Champagne, Pierre Gimonnet, Belles Années, Blan de blancs, Brut
But what elated me the most was the surprise my daughter-in-law had prepared for me. Can you guess what she ensured was placed next to the champagne during the cocktail before dinner? Tekirdağ rakı made with fresh grapes! As someone who greatly desires our national drink to be recognized all over the world, such a surprise in one of the best restaurants in the world naturally made my day. And don’t think that I didn’t do it justice… I continued with the rakı during the main course as well.
In fact, rakı is an aperitif – it’s much too strong for meals. That’s why it’s difficult for rakı to accompany food. Because we’ve started to have rakı with food and not food with rakı, we’ve lost our way a bit.
We left the untouched bottles of rakı at the bar of Eleven Mad so that they could serve it as an aperitif, demonstrating to the bartenders how it should be served.
I followed up on the matter and was told that they were waiting for permission to serve it from the Department of Health and Customs since it was an unrecognized drink. I don’t know what’s happened since.
However, I did find out that Eleven Mad has raised its tasting menu price, which was 225 dollars in 2015, to 295 dollars (without alcohol) for the start of 2016. Is it warranted? Most definitely! But is a 30% price hike called for when the inflation rate was just 0.12% in the States in 2015? That I really don’t know…