Eleven Madison Park is firmly one of the best restaurants in the world and personally is one of my very favorite high end restaurants. Loosely defined as "a contemporary American Restaurant", it sits on lovely Madison Square Park in New York City in a gorgeous landmarked Art Deco building. Upon arrival you are greeted by a silver minimalist sign with a logo that incorporates the etching of four leaves that represent the types of trees just outside in the Park.

The restaurant, in operation since 1998, is owned and operated by the brilliant Swiss Chef Daniel Humm (3 michelin stars) and Will Guidara, who also share ownership of the NoMad restaurant in the same-named hotel. Notable, Eleven Madison ranks fifth out of the World's Best Restaurants by San Pellegrino rankings in 2015. Chef Humm was also awarded Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Awards.

The stunning art deco design of the restaurant along with expansive contemporary floral displays complement the fine dining experience; which offers a divine multi-course tasting menu.

A couple years ago my husband and
I were there enjoying a phenomenal dinner with friends that were in town. At one point in the meal a member of the waitstaff stopped by and attached a meat grinder to our table for the upcoming course. Then out came the most beautiful carrots I have ever seen. They had been peeled, but the vibrant green tops were still intact. The dish was "Carrot Tartare" and the carrots were ground for us table side. We all had an assortment of accompaniments so we could customize our own experience and taste of our fun hands on carrot course.

When our server checked back in with us, I enthusiastically exclaimed "Bunnies everywhere would adore this dish!" (I may have had a few glasses of wine by this point in time).

Here's where the outstanding part comes in. A couple courses later, our wonderful server comes back and states "I shared your comment about the carrot course with the kitchen and it inspired our kitchen artist" (?!?! What resto has a kitchen artist on staff??!!) He then gave us the most beautiful drawing (in the last image below) that the kitchen artist made for us. I since framed it and it's a very special memory of a truly wonderful and highly unexpected night at Eleven Madison. 






Over a decade ago when my husband and I were in Paris I suggested trying a wine tasting evening course I had read about in one of our hotel magazines.

We embarked in a taxi to an area just outside of Paris where I was just starting to get anxious on where we were being taken - and we had arrived. With a bit of effort we found ourselves comfortably sitting at a long table in a super cool loft with a fun group of people hosted by the wonderfully charismatic, charming, easy on the eyes and downright funny Olivier Magny. Not only did we learn about french wine regions and terroir, we also had an amazing and entertaining evening. Truly lovely and memorable.

In the time since then, Olivier has been very very busy. You know, important things like establishing himself as a top French Wine Expert, becoming an entrepreneur (opening O'Chateau wine bar) and also becoming a best selling author, twice so far. Knowing him, this is just the beginning. 

I highly recommend his two wonderful books: Stuff Parisians Like (a highly amusing,  intelligent, witty international best-seller) and Into Wine, (a good book where even a jaded wine connoisseur will learn something new). Olivier also hosts a wine travel TV show and is a frequent global guest speaker, generously sharing his french wine knowledge.

O'Chateau is a fabulous wine bar, located conveniently in central Paris a couple blocks directly behind the Louvre Museum. Only celebrating it's two year anniversary, it is already an established landmark in Paris for wine lovers. Impressively it has also grown to become France's #1 wine school as well as the largest wine bar in Paris. The team has taught over 100,000 students from all over the world about wine.

It's the perfectly lovely yet cozy wine bar with an excellent wine list, top notch servers who will explain anything you want to know, a robust selection of tasty noshing (cheese, please!) as well as bookable wine dinner tasting courses where you can both imbibe and learn something. Also separately available by booking online are evening champagne tasting boat cruises on the river Seine and even small group day trips to Champagne. The last time I was in Paris I stopped by twice for the exceptional wine selection and a light dinner. Worth it! To learn more