'Uncanny valley': NYT critic pens brutal review of Eleven Madison Park's new vegan menu

Eleven Madison Park
The main dining room is set for dinner at Eleven Madison Park at 11 Madison Avenue in the Flatiron District on April 6, 2017 in New York City. Photo credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — A restaurant critic who skewered the famed Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn back in 2019 has penned a mostly-scathing takedown of Michelin-starred Manhattan restaurant Eleven Madison Park's new vegan menu.

Live On-Air
Ask Your Smart Speaker to Play ten ten wins
1010 WINS
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

The high-end, hard-to-get-into eatery in the Flatiron District reopened with a fully plant-based menu in June — a move chef and owner Daniel Humm said would make the restaurant more sustainable.

In a review published in the New York Times on Tuesday, restaurant critic Pete Wells described the endeavor as an experiment gone awry.

“Almost none of the main ingredients taste quite like themselves in the 10-course, $335 menu the restaurant unwrapped this June after a 15-month hiatus,” Wells wrote. “Some are so obviously standing in for meat or fish that you almost feel sorry for them.”

A beet dish meant to evoke a “lavender-honey-glazed duck” served by Eleven Madison Park's previous iteration was “doing things no root vegetable should be asked to do,” he wrote, adding that it “tastes like Lemon Pledge and smells like a burning joint.”

“Delicate flavors” in other courses, he maintained, were “hijacked by some harsh, unseen ingredient."

“I suspect that the summer-squash dish that appears halfway through the menu somehow descends from the butter-poached lobster” that appeared on the eatery’s old menu, he wrote. “I don’t know what else accounts for the viscous liquid that looks and sort of feels like browned butter, but clearly isn’t.”

“The servers offer few explanations for the doctored flavors, and no warnings, either,” he added. "The ingredients look normal until you take a bite and realize you’ve entered the plant kingdom’s uncanny valley.”

Wells did offer praise for some items on the menu, including the pastry chef’s “two-tone” dark chocolate and toasted sesame paste pretzel, the full cocktail lineup and a dish made from Japanese summer-cypress seeds that he described as “delicious.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images