The highly acclaimed Manhattan restaurant Eleven Madison Park said on Monday that it would no longer serve meat or seafood when it reopens next month, becoming one of the most high-profile restaurants to switch to a plant-based menu because of environmental concerns.
Daniel Humm, the chef and an owner, said in a statement on the restaurant’s website, “It was clear that after everything we all experienced this past year, we couldn’t open the same restaurant.”
Mr. Humm said that the coronavirus pandemic, which led to closure and layoffs, had forced the restaurant’s leaders to reimagine its future. “We have always operated with sensitivity to the impact we have on our surroundings,” he said, “but it was becoming ever clearer that the current food system is simply not sustainable, in so many ways.”
Mr. Humm said that the kitchen had spent its days developing new dishes and meat and dairy alternatives, like plant-based milks, butter and creams, flavorful vegetable broths and stocks, and fermented foodstuffs.
“What at first felt limiting began to feel freeing, and we are only scratching the surface,” he said. “All this has given us the confidence to reinvent what fine dining can be.”
The restaurant’s decision to reinvent its menu, reported Monday by The Wall Street Journal, is potentially a risk for the Michelin-starred restaurant, which was known for dishes like lavender honey-glazed duck, lobster and Hawaiian prawn roulade.
But the move comes as prominent restaurants and publications have shifted toward plant-based recipes, sometimes to critical applause. The Michelin Guide has awarded stars to restaurants in the United States and Germany that have mixed vegetarian and vegan menus, but there are still relatively few of them. In January, the Michelin Guide gave its first star to a fully vegan establishment in France, ONA, a restaurant near Bordeaux.