New York City is known to have some of the best restaurants in the world. More specifically, the world’s best fine dining restaurant in 2017: Eleven Madison Park. With intricately crafted dishes and high quality ingredients, fine dining has hefty price tags, as the name would suggest. Without tax, the dining room tasting menu at Eleven Madison park costs $315 USD without tax, which is nowhere near what I can afford as a student. Through my dining experience, I focused out how to get the most bang for my few bucks.

The meal opened up with a savory black and white cookie filled with cheddar and apple. We then moved on to our appetizer course which was a dosa served with tomato chutney and goat cheese paired with a tomato tea. Finishing off the tomato themed appetizer was a bowl of heirloom tomatoes and seasonal berries, a perfect early fall pairing.

The caviar course came next, a staple of any fine dining experience. This dish was worth some serious money. The caviar was topped with a creamy cheese souffle—a definite hit.

Upon finishing these preset courses, I was given the option between a crab dish and foie gras. Of course, since foie gras is more expensive, I chose that. Remember, we're still trying to get our money’s worth. The foie gras was seared and served with plum and duck prosciutto—a delicious combination.

Next, for the seafood course, I was asked to choose between lobster and fish. Once again, I needed to make sure that I was minimizing my losses, so I went with the more expensive lobster. It was butter-poached and charred with greens and Bean Ecrase.

It was then time for the snails. In the end-of-summer spirit, the snails were char grilled on the table and served with various different condiments. This was definitely one of my favorite courses.

When it was finally time for the main course, I was given the option of fish, duck and beef. Once again, since it sounded more exciting and expensive, I went with the duck. It was glazed with honey and lavender and paired with blueberries and onions. The dish was also served with two sides: corn creamed with juniper and grated egg yolk and zucchini with lemon and mint. 

The cheese was served as a precursor to a much anticipated dessert. Presented was triple créme in a brioche with cherry and basil créme fraîche. This was followed by dessert—an option of a chocolate and coffee dish, a lemon and blueberry dish, or a peach dish. I decided to be as decadent as possible and chose the chocolate dish. Served was a chocolate sorbet with shortbread and coffee meringue.

To finish the meal off, they served a digestive. Typically, they would serve an apple brandy; however, since I am under twenty-one I was given apple cider. Alongside the drink, they serve a petite and delicate chocolate covered pretzel.

As I finished my meal, I was given a parting gift which included their pistachio and dried cherry granola, a small tin with a card which lists every menu selection, and a birthday sea salt caramel chocolate bar. I am still rationing out the granola a month later in order to save money on breakfast.

Fine dining at one of the world’s best restaurants was a great opportunity. I was able to expose myself to different foods and truly experience the art of food. Since everything is prepaid and Eleven Madison Park refuses tips, the service would not be any different. However, I think the experience was wasted on someone my age. Fine dining was well above my price range. Also, I was unable to see the full experience. A real hallmark of the fine dinning experience is the pairing of beverages, which can transcend the flavor the next level. Therefore, I think that the fine dinning and Eleven Madison Park would be better enjoyed in the future, at an older age.