Eleven 14 Kitchen - A Delightful Journey into California Cuisine

Jeff "jfood" Schlesinger

(Added May 22, 2014. Unfortunately Eleven 14 is closed)

Eleven 14 Kitchen is a beautifully designed restaurant offering deliciously prepared cuisine. Reminiscent of the California culinary experience that accentuate the natural flavors of each of the ingredients, the menu offers meats, fish and poultry in artfully composed presentations.

The stunningly designed and decorated restaurant is located in the J House Hotel in Riverside, Greenwich. The front area contains a U-shaped marble topped bar with leather covered bar stools and several chandeliers cast an inviting light to socialize and drink beers and specialty cocktails. The rear of the space is dedicated to the dining area, with 100 seats plus a new outdoor patio that will be ready for dining al fresco this summer. The ambient lighting is soft from the cloth cover lighting over the rear tables and the entire room is lit from the center chandelier with low lights. The décor is relaxed, and stylish.

Overseeing the kitchen is Chef Francois Kwaku-Dongo, a native of the Ivory Coast who spent fifteen years as Wolfgang Puck’s Executive Chef at Spagos Restaurants in West Hollywood and Chicago. Voted one of the best upcoming young chefs in Los Angeles in 1992, he received a James Beard Nomination in 2008. With his newly introduced menu, Chef Francois is returning to his California culinary roots with food expressing the natural flavors of the seasons, allowing each of the ingredients to command a place on the palate.

We enjoyed numerous of Chef Francois’ dishes. The Gem lettuce salad included several variety of beets, roasted yellow and orange carrots, avocado, and topped with a lemony vinaigrette and sliced Parmesan Reggiano cheese. The salad was delightful. The roasted carrots were exceptionally sweet, the beets added slightly different sweet notes, the avocado brought a little creaminess and the dressing delivered a slightly citrusy balance that was complemented by the saltiness of the cheese. A good dash of pepper opened the palate to the flavors. This was a very well-balanced presentation.

The Seared Tuna was wrapped in a thin slice of prosciutto before grilling. The tuna was nestled in a pool of basil oil and anchovy mayonnaise and accompanied by shredded vegetables. The prosciutto and anchovy mayonnaise added just a hint of saltiness. The salad contained carrots, red cabbage, kale and lettuce and finished with a creamy dressing, and presented vibrant, farm fresh flavors.

The Garganelli with Bolognese was my least favorite of the meal. The pasta was cooked to my preference of just shy of al dente and delivered great taste and texture. The sauce contained pork, veal and beef and seasoned with fresh rosemary. The rosemary overpowered the meats and the pasta was a little too thick and heavy for the light tomato based Bolognese.

The Striped Bass was a wonderful combinations of flavors. The filet was prepared to medium-rare, moist on the inside and topped with sliced Moroccan olives, tomato and basil. The fish sat atop thin slices of yellow squash and pureed broccoli, surrounded by a few brushes of a lobster and tarragon reduction. The fish was the perfect canvas to the salty and sweet toppings plus the textural differences of the crunch squash and creamy broccoli. The lobster reduction brought a great richness to the dish.

The last entrée was a beautifully prepared Strip steak. After marinating the strip overnight in a combination of Worcestershire sauce and ketchup the steaks were grilled, sliced and fanned over smoked mashed potatoes. The dish was served with a combination of kale, mushrooms and pearl onion and finished with a sauce made by adding red wine and bone marrow to the marinade and reducing. The lightly smoked potatoes added great flavor to the medium-rare and incredibly tender and delicious strip steak.

Save room for desserts because Eleven 14’s are beyond fantastic. The Apple tart was served with Sea Salt Caramel ice cream. This was the best apple tart I have eaten in quite some time. The crust was outstanding and buttery, and the Gaia apples offered the perfect sweet-tart balance. The ice cream was a great complement to the tart, delivering just a touch of saltiness and sweetness.

And every visit to Eleven 14 should include a few plates of chocolates, direct from the adjoining “Chocolate Lab.” Chef Francois grew up picking cacao beans in his native Ivory Coast, but never tasted chocolate until he arrived in America. The chocolates served at Eleven 14 are from single harvest cacao from Ghana, with the entire "bean to chocolate" process occuring in Ghana and then exported to the US.

The Chocolate Log contained two different chocolates, an 80% layer sat atop a “dark” milk chocolate, made by mixing 80% chocolate with white chocolate. The sides of the bar were dark chocolate brittle and served with candied almonds. This was absolutely fantastic. The chocolate layers were divine and when combined with a piece of the crunch the result was chocolate nirvana.

To finish the meal over a cup of espresso, order a tray of house-made truffles. Chef Francois accents the Ghana chocolate with indigenous ingredients. Our selection included truffles accented by lemon verbena, earl grey tea, and lavender. Each presented a delicate balance between the rich chocolate and the fragrant flavors of the accompaniment.

All but one of the dishes at Eleven 14 were incredibly delightful and all were perfectly executed. Eleven 14’s new menu is delivering delectable foods, with dishes focused on fresh flavors from the ingredients, with a balanced execution to create deliciously bright and rich cuisine. 

1114 E Putnam Ave, Riverside, CT · (203) 698-6999


Really Liked

  • Gem Lettuce Salad
  • Seared Tuna
  • Striped Bass
  • Strip Steak
  • Chocolate Log
  • Chocolate Truffles

Did Not Like

  • Garganelli with Bolognese
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