The fine-diner is back open for business after four months of renovations.
New York's Eleven Madison Park, currently ranked number one in the World's 50 Best Restaurants, closed its doors mere months after being awarded the top gong to overhaul its dining room and kitchen after 19 years in the space. Now it has reopened with a more opulent look that could be seen as a celebration of the achievements of Will Guidara and Daniel Humm since taking over the restaurant from Danny Meyer in 2006. While the plans were under way well before the World's 50 Best announcement in April this year, Humm agrees the timing is uncanny.
"To be honest, it felt almost poetic," he says.
Accolades aside, the decision to renovate was about future-proofing the restaurant: Humm and Guidara signed a 20-year lease on the Art Deco space earlier this year. The plans started with the kitchen, an area that Humm says no longer suited Eleven Madison Park's style of cooking, and then extended to the dining room and bar. During the renovations, the restaurant decamped to East Hampton for a summer pop-up, EMP Summer House.
Earlier this month, Allied Works and its founder Brad Cloepfil unveiled a lighter, brighter Eleven Madison Park, with the building's soaring windows and ceilings shown off to full effect. Chrome detailing and off-white walls replace the darker colour scheme of the old interior, giving a more contemporary fine-diner feel to the restaurant. Touches of colour come in the form of midnight-blue velvet banquettes and a turquoise abstract painting by Rita Ackermann that occupies pride of place in the main dining room. Work by New York artist Sol LeWitt is featured in a new private dining area, while Olympia Scarry and Daniel Turner were also commissioned by Humm - Scarry to create new stained glass windows above the entry and Turner to take the old kitchen equipment and melt it down into a step that marks the threshold to the dining room.
"Everything is intentional and that's something we pride ourselves on in the kitchen and the dining room," Humm says.
Changes in the kitchen include a Molteni cooking range and custom layout that updates the 1998 design, while the bar has also had a new fit-out.
The reopening coincides with a new autumn menu, including a caviar cheesecake and button mushroom carpaccio, which is also available in a condensed five-course version in the bar.
Cloepfil, a regular at the restaurant, pushed Humm and Guidara further than they initially planned to go with the changes but Humm is giddy about the result.
"We just love having our restaurant back."
Eleven Madison Park, 11 Madison Ave, New York, elevenmadisonpark.com