I have been to Eleven Madison Park (EMP) on a number of occasions and absolutely loved it. Daniel Humm is a skilled chef and arguably I would have to say EMP would have to be one of favourite restaurants across the globe. Sadly the COVID-19 pandemic hit the restaurant industry very hard and after much soul searching Daniel Humm decided to change his restaurant format to fully plant based. It was with great sadness that the experience of EMP would be gone forever. I comforted myself that Davies and Brook, the London sister restaurant would remain for me to sample Daniel Humm’s beautiful creations. Alas, after a series of tense negotiations with Claridges, Daniel Humm decided to close Davies and Brook by the end of 2021.
I had our flights booked for London and had move the flights forward and change a number of accommodation arrangements to fit in with the UK government’s isolation regime to ensure I snuck in before the restaurant closed on 31 December.
We arrive early and start with a few cocktails as the staff had some farewell / thank you gatherings ahead of the dinner service. It was sad sitting in the bar and having to hear it, but glad to hear some of the staff have found new roles and adventures.
Duck leg dumpling with consommé & Bread with Goat Milk Butter
The beautiful sticky, the melt in your mouth duck leg, the salinity and richness of the consommé is something to behold. The magic of this course was the bread; a warm waft which greet you on the break and a flakey and crisp texture with a buttery taste to match. A perfect experience.
The best element of Davies & Brook is the wines by the carafe. It allows the perfect tailoring of wines for the extensive a la carte menu.
We opt for the Domaine Jean-Baptiste Ponsot, Molesme, Rully Premier Cru, Burgundy, France 2018 (Chardonnay) to pair for the caviar and lobster and the René Rostaing, Ampodium, Côte-Rôtie, Rhône Valley, France 2014 (Syrah) for the duck and dessert.
The Burgundy has a wonderful nose with white peach, apple and citrus notes. On the palate it has a lovely buttery feel with decent bite of oak and cream. An light saline and oily after taste lingers on the palate with hints of walnuts.
The Syrah is a compromise choice, I do love my full-bodied wines but Pinot is the natural choice for duck. It’s got lovely blackfruit and floral notes on the nose. On the palate, its spicy with a intense dark berries and cherry flavours with decent level of sweet spice notes in the finish and good tannin structure for balance.
Imperial Osietra Caviar with Sweet Potato, Bonito and English Muffin
The creamy smooth bonito cream and sweet potato puree with the crumbly base and the translucent oceanic salinity of the caviar. The English muffins have a wonderful doughy middle with a light crunch on the outside, perfect for spreading some of the tart on there. Its a delicate dish with an undertone of grandeur to it. The pairing of the chardonnay is perfect for this dish and delivers a well rounded experience.
Butter-Poached Native Lobster with Delica Pumpkin and Razor Clams
The lobster tail is firm and has a wonderful texture. The bisque is rich and creamy with a light salinity and a sweet spice undertone which is difficult to ascertain. The aesthetics of the pumpkin “rose” is quite something and the razor clams offer a second taste of the ocean in the dish. Again, like the caviar, perfectly paired with the buttery rich chardonnay.
Honey and Lavender Glazed Dry-aged Duck with Smoked and Pickled Persimmon
Every artist has his masterpiece. They do not detract from the rest of their fine work but they set a standard by which all others are measured. This is Daniel Humm’s masterpiece, the Dry-Aged Duck. The duck is dry-aged for a week with the farmer and then prepared for a further two weeks. The ducks are sourced from Sladesdown Farms.
The duck with the crispy honey, lavender and cumin spices and smoky glazed skin is really something to savour. I know this is the last time I will have this dish and I make every mouthful count. The duck itself is succulent and the richness of the jus strengthens the dish. The persimmons have a distinctive flavour with lovely honey notes and little cream and stony texture. The persimmons are a perfect pair with the gaminess of the duck. On the pairing front, the strong fruit and spice of the Syrah stands up to the duck with a poetic harmony.
It’s a signature dish and one that is a class above the rest.
We shift onto desserts and I opt for the festive Yule Log with some selected jellies, anglaise sauce and beads.
Yule Log with Trimmings
Its beautiful, rich and moist chocolatey cake intertwined with sweet cream. The dish with the trimmings it is a sugar hit and enjoyable one at that.
My wife opts for the soft serve.
Milk & Honey Soft Serve with Oat Shortbread and Bee Pollen
I had a taste and the the soft serve was so smooth and airy, with a honey candy shell and delightful flecks of honeycomb melded with a buttery rich shortbread base for a delightful experience.
This is restaurant where the staff had an unimaginably difficult time of the extended lockdowns only to hear that the restaurant would close by year end. But to have the level of service and the quality of the culinary experience of this standard is somewhat unbelievable. Although I am sad to see the end of Daniel Humm’s amazing culinary skills, I do hope he planted a seed in many chefs that will see some of the most inventive and flawless dishes at their own restaurants in the future. I could not fault the menu, from caviar, lobster, duck and some amazing wines by the carafe, it was a wonderful experience for both of us on our first dinner in London together and we will always cherish it. Davies and Brook may be gone, but it will live on forever in our hearts.