Fancy a $335 vegan meal? Despite its expensive price tag, business at Eleven Madison Park appears to be booming. But securing a reservation at this New York City-based fine dining establishment won’t be easy. The upscale restaurant now has a 15,000-person waitlist.
After an extended period of closure due to the pandemic, the 3-Michelin star restaurant reopened its doors on June 10. But things are a little different this time around. During the closure, owner and chef Daniel Humm had an epiphany: He decided to convert the menu to be entirely plant-based.
“We realized that not only has the world changed, but that we have changed as well,” he explained in a statement. “We have always operated with sensitivity to the impact we have on our surroundings, but it was becoming ever clearer that the current food system is simply not sustainable, in so many ways.”
So Humm, who “naturally gravitates” towards a more plant-based diet himself, decided to center the menu on vegetables. And despite not featuring meat, he says his dishes’ flavor and texture have remained intact.
“No matter the ingredients, the dish must live up to some of my favorites of the past,” he continued. “It’s a tremendous challenge to create something as satisfying as the lavender honey glazed duck, or the butter poached lobster, recipes that we perfected.”
Eleven Madison Park Goes Vegan
So, what’s on the 11-course, plant-based menu? Each dish focuses on one fruit or vegetable.
Dishes include summer squash with grilled tofu and lemongrass, caviar-styled tonburi with peas and baby lettuce, cucumber with melon and smoked daikon, and sweet pepper with Swiss chard. The final entree features roasted eggplant with tomato and coriander. It is paired with summer beans with green onion and corn with juniper. The dish was previously flavored with smoked tuna flakes. Instead, the plant-based version features mushrooms for an earthy flavor.
And what’s a meal without dessert? Strawberry marinated with thyme, blueberry with elderflower, and sesame chocolate pretzel are all on the menu.
But reimagining Eleven Madison Park didn’t stop at the new menu. Forced to layoff most of his employees, Humm kept a small team and—in collaboration with the nonprofit Rethink Food—prepared close to a million meals for New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity.
“Through this work, I experienced the magic of food in a whole new way, and I also saw a different side of our city—and today I love New York more than ever,” he said.
Now, every dinner purchased at Eleven Madison Park helps to provide five meals to people experiencing food insecurity in the city.
“It is time to redefine luxury as an experience that serves a higher purpose and maintains a genuine connection to the community,” Humm continued. “A restaurant experience is about more than what’s on the plate. We are thrilled to share the incredible possibilities of plant-based cuisine while deepening our connection to our homes: both our city and our planet.”