I have a confession to make. I have a foodie crush on Chef Daniel Humm and General Manager Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad.
I’ve seen the dynamic duo twice now. The first time was last year in Feb 2012 when they were talking about their Eleven Madison Park cookbook during a Chefs @ Google series – video here. It’s always so inspirational to hear about people speak about something that they’re so passionate about. It certainly was my favorite dining experience in NYC, not only because every dish was so whimsical and perfectly thought out, but also because of how friendly and approachable the entire team was.
Having the kitchen prepare the best dishes together is one thing, but to really make the diners excited about the meal, it’s really up to the servers in the front of the house to make it happen. This is how the close partnership between Will the GM and Daniel the Chef really stand out and helps the entire restaurant work harmoniously as one. (Repeat, I have a foodie crush.)
|My “bestie” pic with Chef Daniel Humm|
The second time I saw them was a few months ago, in May 2013, when they came to talk about their second cookbook, I Love New York: Ingredients and Recipes. It features over 50 farms in New York where they source a lot of their produce from. To help their staff become more passionate about the food they are serving and cooking, Daniel and Will actually threw a party and invited both their staff and the farmers to mingle and really get to make the farm to table experience more personal. These fun tidbits can be found on their second Chef @ Google appearance here.
Now, if I could eat at Eleven Madison all the time, I would. But let’s get real, how many full on tasting menus can you feast on in a year? So, I was glad to see the duo open The NoMad, a much more accessible and affordable concept, a place I could go enjoy more than once a year.
The NoMad Restaurant is located inside The NoMad hotel, making it a hotel restaurant. The space itself is pretty large, separated into several different dining rooms, including a bar area that they call The Library. The atmosphere reminds me of a very sophisticated library with wood paneling along all the walls and thick velvety curtains separating the space.
|The Library bar at The NoMad|
|Great cocktail menu separated by dark and light spirits. (L to R) Forty Thieves, Piedmont Fizz and The Matchlock|
Getting a Reservation
|The House Focaccia|
My favorite appetizers of the night was their Steak Tartare, an appetizer that we all agreed that we would easily order again. The flavors of the tartare was perfectly balanced with a crunch and tartness of the cornichons, spiciness of horseradish, all tied in together perfectly with the creaminess from the egg yolk. Put it on top of a brioche toast and you will be in food heaven.
The next two dishes I was less impressed by. The first was the Lamb & Sweetbreads dish which was served with romaine which was fresh and sauced perfectly but less memorable overall, only showing how awesome the other dishes are.
There’s a lot of rave reviews for the King Crab Tagliatelle which has the rich flavor of the crab and balanced with the meyer lemon and black pepper on top but at the end of the day, I felt like it was just a classic pasta dish. I’m personally one who enjoys a saucier pasta dish, unless it’s the Trofie Nero at Ai Fiori. We ordered the entree size to share, but perhaps the appetizer portions would have been fine for just a taste. Not something to come back to The NoMad for.
The NoMad Roast Chicken
The one dish that you HAVE TO try at The NoMad is their Roast Chicken for Two. Whenever we asked Chef Humm what dish we have to try at The NoMad, they would say the Roast Chicken. Normally I stray away from ordering chicken dishes at restaurants but knew I had to try it here.
What makes the Roast Chicken so special here is that its stuffed with a foie gras, black truffles and brioche stuffing – three ingredients that are just music to my ears. The chicken is cooked whole in their special brick oven at very high heat and the chicken breast is the star of the show.
To prevent the breasts from overcooking or drying out, the foie stuffing is stuffed between the skin of the whole chicken and the breasts. Prior to it being cooked, the chicken is placed in the fridge so that the heat of the kitchen doesn’t melt the fats in the stuffing. The result of this is simple perfection.
Similar to how waiters at Chinese restaurants would bring out the live fish or lobster to the table prior to cooking it, the waiters at The NoMad brings out the whole chicken out on the hot skillet, still fresh and glistening for everyone at the table to drool over.
After that, they take it away so they can carve and plate it up. While we’re waiting for our chicken, we had the Le Poulet beer served in a NoMad growler which is just a beauty to look at. The brown ale is brewed at Brooklyn Brewery especially to accompany the chicken. Its slightly bitter taste really does pair really well with the richness of the chicken dishes to come…
After what felt like centuries (while it was really just a few minutes), we were served our individually plated chicken breast on top of truffled potato purée, but seriously, who are we kidding here, the main star here is the fragrant smell of the truffled foie stuffing underneath the glistening chicken skin.
Digging in, each bite of the chicken breast is so moist and juicy, you would almost think you’re eating the dark meat. The stuffing beneath the skin is a wonderful tool to use to soak up the jus sitting below the dish.
Alongside the plated chicken breasts, we have the dark meat on the side. It turns out that to get the chicken breast to the perfect temperature without it being overcooked, the chicken thighs and legs are actually a bit undercooked. The dark meat is cooked for a few more minutes in a pan with butter, shallots and morel mushrooms. It’s finally topped off with vin jaune hollandaise and chives. We actually found this dish a tad too rich and creamy compared to the featured plate, but delicious none the less.
To read about the entire process of how this roast chicken is prepared, check out NYT’s One Dish at The Nomad where Pete Wells gets a behind the scene look into how Chef Daniel Humm makes the dish from start to finish.
The Other Entrees
After that spectacle, it’s hard to have any other dishes live up to the awesomeness of the Roast Chicken, however the next two dishes were definitely solid.
The Seared Scallops with chickpeas, pine nuts and a creamy sauce amer had perfectly seared scallops with an awesome sauce, but let’s face it, if this was our entire entree, I’d leave hungry. It was also too rich for me to have by myself, but sharing it was just perfect.
The Suckling Pig was as moist as expected and accompanied with dried plums, wild onions and greens. Delicious but not as memorable as the highlight of our meal.
After that spectacle, it’s hard to have any other dishes live up to the awesomeness of the Roast Chicken, however the desserts held its own very well.
We ordered the Chocolate dessert, a malted ganache with chocolate fondant & malt ice cream. I loved how there was a slight fizz to the ice cream which was an awesome surprise. In addition to this chocolate bomb, we had the Carrot Cake which I throughly enjoyed since I’m a sucker for carrot cake. Served with a lighter carrot puree which helps balance some of the sweetness (for me) of the cream cheese icing.
Even though our meal ended a little after midnight, it was well worth the food coma we were enduring towards the end. Every dish that was served was delicious in its own way, while some were more memorable than others, I was completely satisfied by the whole meal.
I think it’s hard to find a restaurant that fits various occasions, good enough to come to celebrate for an occasion but affordable enough where if you came here with a party of 2 for an appetizer to share and an entree, you can leave with a bill that’s roughly around $100. That’s a hard find in New York, let alone for a meal as lovely as this one.
|Had to pose with the awesome growler, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it all night!|
I can’t believe it took me this long to finally have a meal at The NoMad. I’ll definitely have to come back again in the near future, if not for the Roast Chicken, then for an awesome cocktail at The Library with the Steak Tartare as a snack.
Update: Been back to NoMad again in Nov 2013, and fell in love with their foie dish. Check out the update here.