Is Eleven Madison Park's Wine List As Impressive As The Food Menu?

Eleven Madison Park is arguably one of the most famous restaurants in the nation, if not the world. On their website, the list of accolades lends credence to that claim. They have three Michelin stars, four stars from the New York Times, seven James Beard Foundation awards, and they have topped The World's 50 Best Restaurants list. Much of that is thanks to the innovative cuisine of chef Daniel Humm, who won the 2015 Chef's Choice award from The World's 50 Best Restaurants, according to their entry on the awards' site.

Much of their press is generated by Humm's cuisine. While the New York restaurant does not post a current menu, since reopening in June of 2021 — after being shuttered for 15 months during the pandemic — Eleven Madison Park has removed all traces of meat, seafood, and even animal products from their menu, notes Eater NY. And, while they are now likely the most famous vegan fine dining establishment in the world, the new direction has not been well received. The establishment has garnered some less-than-stellar reviews, according to Bon Appétit, including this one from the NY Times

But what of their wine list? Does it outshine their new culinary direction or does it leave something to be desired? We asked Matt Woodburn-Simmonds, founder of Decoding Wine, to analyze their current wine list — which you can peruse here – and give us his honest feedback.

Impressive and expensive

If you gave the wine list even the most cursory of scans, you probably noticed the price points of the glasses and bottles. While no one is expecting an establishment like Eleven Madison Park to have a discount menu of offerings, some of the prices are relatively high. But, as Woodburn-Simmonds points out, that's par for the course at high-end restaurants.

"The wines are on the higher end of what you'd expect to pay at a restaurant," he explains. "This probably puts them on par with similar restaurants around the world where a lot of the bottles are around 3x the retail price, though they vary quite wildly. Wine is how most restaurants stay in business so it's hard to get too upset at the prices, especially considering the costs for the building, staff, etc."

He further explains that, in his opinion, Eleven Madison Park would benefit from having more choices under $100 per bottle as an approachable option for diners who may be treating themselves to an indulgent night out but lack the budget for uber-pricey wine.

How does it pair with the vegan menu?

If you are a connoisseur of French wines, then Eleven Madison Park's list will likely tickle your fancy. A considerable number of the list's 212 pages are devoted to the various regions of France, packed with big-name vineyards. But this comes at a cost for less prominent wine-producing regions from other parts of the world, says Woodburn-Simmonds. "Some of the best value wines you can find are from the less prestigious regions and it feels they've sacrificed some of these more interesting options for incredible depth in French wines from famous producers."

When we asked if he finds the wines on the list generally pair well with vegan cuisine, Woodburn-Simmonds pointed out that there are some that seem less than apt given the menu. "The red wines of Piedmonte are generally not great with dishes that don't include meat. This is a huge oversimplification as you can create rich and hearty vegetable dishes that will pair beautifully with Barolo or Barbaresco. But it's less common, and certainly, older vintages were made with the classic heavy meat stews and polenta of Piedmonte in mind. That said, it shouldn't really matter as ultimately if you love the robust and tannic reds of Piedmonte then you'll have a great time drinking one even if it isn't perfect with the food you're eating."