Why did it take me so long to write about EMP after my initial post about NYC? I guess that’s what happens when you’re a bit disappointed about one of the restaurants on your bucketlist (more about that list in a future post). You just postpone the review because it’s not what you wanted it to be.
For those of you who don’t know EMP yet, let me tell you about this place that has one hell of an impressive résumé.
Located right on Madison Avenue, this beautiful dining room is home to Swiss Chef, Daniel Humm. Although chef Humm started working at EMP in 2006, he bought it over in 2011 and made it what it is today. In 2010, the restaurant was ranked 50th in the 50 best restaurants in the world ranking and only kept climbing up the ladder until it reached the top in 2017. In 2012 it won 3 michelin stars and managed to keep all 3 of them to this day. I’m not going to go into a full in-dept history of the place but you got the idea.
I’ve been following Daniel Humm for a while on Instagram and the aesthetics of his dishes always stunned me. It’s so simple, delicate and precise. Maybe EMP made it on my bucketlist more because of the beauty of the food than the actual tastes association, after all.
We booked our dinner at EMP back in January. When booking you get to choose between the 8-10 courses dinner or the 5 courses dinner at the bar. We were afraid the 8-10 courses would be too much so we opted for the 5 courses that we got to pay straight when booking the table. It’s a smart way to make sure people will honour their reservation but also allowing them to maybe spend more on wine knowing the biggest part of the bill is already taken care of.
The dining room is really breathtaking with its high ceilings, very clean design and massive art works. My favourite piece of trivia comes from that little step leading you to the tables. During the latest renovation, the kitchen has been completely taken apart to be rebuilt. Instead of getting rid of the old altogether, the steel from the old kitchen has been melted to form this step that diners have to walk on to get to their table. It’s such a wonderful way of honouring all the work that’s been done to get to where they are.
My first impression when coming in was that I stepped into an anthill. So many people around us running everywhere. It was my first 3 Michelin stars and weirdly I was expecting a more personal and confined environment. Thankfully, we were sitting in the bar area which was a very cosy corner of the room that I really liked. The sommelier who approached us was quite impressive and the wine line just as impressive. On our table there was a mysterious little box that I was dying to open. Upon opening it, we found 2 little cookies to kick off our meal.
We started off with a new interpretation of the egg benedict with smoked sturgeon. Not only was it beautiful but it was also delicious. It was presented in a little EMP tin topped with caviar and accompanied with mini english muffins.
You’d take the english muffin, add some of the tin and it’s just perfect. By far the best dish of the evening. Opening with this dish was heavenly but also a bit anti-climatic as nothing else topped it afterwards, in our opinion.
As we finished our first dish, a waitress came over to ask us if we wanted to see the kitchen. Obviously I was excited! Anything that involves me in a kitchen is a definite yes and even more if it’s the kitchen of renowned chef! We even got to have a little truffle snack there. That snack had a story but I have to admit I forgot it as a was mesmerised by the kitchen. It was quite different from the restaurant kitchens I knew. It felt like it was designed to be shown to guests and it was really beautiful.
Before moving on, a side note on the bread that was just incredible. If you’ve read my article from our dinner at Frog in Shoreditch, you might be familiar with my love for bread. Every time I get to have a good bread with a good butter it simply makes me happy. This bread made me really happy. The texture was perfect and was made even better by the butter with algae and salt to sprinkle on top.
Our second dish was this foie gras dome covered with pumpkin seeds and winter squash. It was good but I wasn’t blown away. I usually can eat A LOT of foie gras but here, after a few bites, the very buttery texture of the foie gras became a bit sickening. It would have been easier to enjoy if I could have spread it on bread.
Our third dish was a poached lobster with butternut squash, kale and a cardamom jus. I am not the biggest fan of cardamom so I knew this wouldn’t be my favourite dish. It was good but the texture of the lobster was a bit too chewy for me.
For our last savoury dish I opted for the fish option instead of the venison wellington. This dish was really good but I wish I could say I remember what kind of fish it was but I really can’t (and Instagram was of no help either). However the beluga lentils, potato and black garlic side was really amazing.
To finish I chose the donut for dessert. It was a pear and cranberry donut accompanied by a mulled wine ice cream. Good but not a dessert I’ll remember.
Finally before leaving we got 2 chocolate pretzels (that I loved so much that I ate mine and my boyfriend’s) as well as a box of granola to enjoy for breakfast the next day. Such a nice attention!
Overall we had a very nice evening at EMP and we felt very lucky to have the opportunity to dine there but I think there’s something about this restaurant that just doesn’t speak to me. After this experience I realised I loved looking at the dishes more than eating them. It might just be that Daniel Humm’s cuisine is not my style taste wise. I am a total newbie in the fine dining world so there might be something I missed or didn’t understand but I am a bit skeptical about its number 1 position in the 50 Best ranking.
I’d love to hear your experience with highly anticipated dinners that didn’t reach your expectations or even your experience at EMP!
Bar 5 courses tasting menu : 175$
Dining room 8-10 courses tasting menu : 315$
Best for: Dinner