Eleven Madison Park’s meal delivery service costs $285 a day. Here’s what else you could eat for the money.

Placeholder while article actions load

New York’s Eleven Madison Park is considered to be one of the world’s top restaurants, a rarefied distinction it has earned with luxurious and carefully composed dishes, pedigreed ingredients and a setting befitting the haute cuisine on its plates. Its prices have matched its profile, even as the restaurant last year eschewed its famous duck and foie gras offerings and morphed into a plant-based incarnation: the chef’s multicourse tasting menu is $335, excluding drinks, tax and tip.

And so one wouldn’t expect the restaurant’s new boxed meal-delivery service to be pedestrian — or inexpensive. It’s certainly not — the price tag for an Eleven Madison Home box meant to feed two people for one day is $285, with a single-serving box going for $150. In addition to the breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks provided, you can add granola for $65 or a whole roasted head of cauliflower for $75. It’s being marketed as a sort of gateway for the veg-curious, with the premise that adopting a plant-based diet one day a week might convince the skeptics. “Each delivery is different, with a weekly-changing menu designed to show just how delicious plant-based food can be,” the website reads.

Top restaurant Eleven Madison Park goes meat-free, dropping animal products from its menu

See, you’re not just paying for food, you’re getting a whole new mind-set — it’s a deal, really! And there’s a charitable element, too, with each box purchased providing a meal to hungry New Yorkers through a food truck Eleven Madison operates with the nonprofit Rethink Food.

Certainly, there are people for whom this is a sensible fiscal proposition. How people spend their money is a personal decision, of course. As Johnny Depp—who reportedly once paid $3 million to shoot the ashes of his friend Hunter S. Thompson into space—said, “it’s my money. If I want to buy 15,000 cotton balls a day, it’s my thing.”

So merely as a thought exercise, we wondered, what other foods could one get for the kind of money EMP is charging?

Lots and lots of groceries.

You could certainly fill up a few grocery carts for what you’ll spend to get a day’s worth of chef-crafted EMP-approved nosh. The average US household spending on food at home is $411 a month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning that you could foot the grocery bill for a family for less than the price of a box and a half.

Right now, inflation is causing many food prices to rise, but Leanne Brown’s 2015 book “Good and Cheap” is a blueprint for eating on $4 a day, the budget afforded by SNAP benefits. Many of the recipes are vegetarian and vegan, too. And with $285, you could budget $9.50 a day for a month of meals.

How to eat on $4 a day, according to the author who wrote the book on SNAP cooking

So maybe you really dig the concept of a box arriving at your door — the menus are all planned out, and there’s no grocery run needed. Plenty of people feel the same, and services such as HelloFresh and Blue Apron have been a lifeline. Many of them, such as Purple Carrot, offer plant-forward options. A two-person Purple Carrot plan for four dinners a week is $96, meaning you could have nearly 12 dinners delivered for the cost of the EMP box.

Meal-kit delivery companies flourished early in the pandemic, but are struggling now

Many charitable organizations feeding hungry people could do a lot with a couple hundred bucks. At Citymeals on Wheels, the organization founded by food writers Gael Greene and James Beard in 1981 to feed older New Yorkers, donations are earmarked. A $103 contribution — the organization says that all public donations go directly to meals — pays for 14 Sunday meals, according to its website. By that math, $285 would fund 38 meals. The Eleven Madison Home service donates one plant-based meal per box, a spokeswoman said.

Of course, you could fill the trunk of your car at most drive-throughs. Take the “poor man’s Big Mac,” a concoction recently brought to my attention by prominent fast-food hacker Kiley Libuit. It’s a McDonald’s McDouble with Big Mac sauce, and was $2.49 at my local Golden Arches (a deal compared to the actual Big Mac, which was $4.99). You could score 114 of them for $285. But if it’s EMP’s plant-forward approach you’re craving, there’s the fast-food menu item often touted by convenience-seeking vegans: the bean burrito at Taco Bell for $1.59, ordered sans cheese.

What could you do with 179 of them? Whatever you want! As Depp would say, it’s your money.

Leave a Comment