Monday, May 21, 2012

Dinner | The NoMad

A couple Fridays ago, Lisa and I finally made it to The NoMad Hotel, the newest collaboration by Chef Daniel Humm and restauranteur, Will Guidara, whose name was inspired by the surrounding neighborhood, (i.e, north of Madison Park). It should be no surprise that we wanted to check out this new spot, barely open six weeks during our visit, as Chef Humm and Mr. Guidara’s first restaurant together, Eleven Madison Park (EMP), is our all-time favorite restaurant in New York City. We wanted to see if our favorite dynamic hospitality duo could translate what they do so well with EMP, a restaurant so highly regarded and well-known for its all-encompassing dining experience where service and comfort are its top priorities. Alexandra Stylianos, our favorite captain whom we met at EMP and developed a dining relationship with over the last couple years since that first visit, informed us that she was beginning a new position as the maître d' at The NoMad, which gave us more incentive to make a reservation as soon as possible.

With a name eponymous to its home at The NoMad Hotel, the food and beverage program here is "inspired by Chef Humm's time spent throughout Switzerland, California, and New York City" as well as "rooted in the same traditions found at EMP."

The NoMad is housed in "a turn of the century Beaux-Arts building that has been fully restored to its original grandeur with interiors by French designer, Jacques Garcia, with nuances inspired by the Parisian flat of his youth. The hotel is "intended as a fresh take on the classic grand hotels of Europe with a distinct New York sensibility." The restaurant at The NoMad is "comprised of a series of rooms surrounding a glass enclosed atrium and features a refined yet approachable menu with a specially curated program celebrating the great winegrowing countries of the world and innovative classically-focused cocktails."

The restaurant is "comprised of a series of rooms surrounding a glass enclosed atrium and features a refined yet approachable menu with a specially curated wine program celebrating the great winegrowing regions of the world and innovative classically focused cocktails."

Shown above is the Atrium -- "an airy, sunlit space inspired by the great courtyards of Europe" with a pyramidal skylight. Seen through the entryway in the rear of the Atrium is the bar area which has a 24-foot long mahogany bar -- "a balanced mix of spirited club and elegant lounge" whose selection of "classic and proprietary cocktails" are crafted by award-winning mixologist, Leo Robitschek.

Unseen here is the Library, a two-story space connected by an original spiral staircase that was imported from southern France with a mezzanine catwalk. The Library has lighter fare and finger foods served alongside warm and cold beverages alike. There is also "an eclectic literary collection" of interesting books, whose topics include, but are not limited to, the history of New York, music, as well as cocktails and spirits. I would love to visit this space another night for bar bites and delicious cocktails.

We were seated in the Parlour room, which has an open hearth, "where guests may observe the preparation of fresh breads and seasonal specialties." The Parlour is a stately room with dark oak furnishings, richly textured fabrics, and over 100 pressed antique herbs from the French heritage shop, Deyrolle.

Upon entering the first of the dining areas (i.e., the Atrium), we were immediately met with an ambiance of the swanky, the sophisticated, and the seductive, in the same way a very attractive individual entrances all those around them. Everything was super plush and very posh -- the furniture, the décor, the sounds, and all the details. Soft chatter and energetic tunes at comfortable decibels dictate the air. Ultimately, the atmosphere was a trendy yet elegant one -- a big contrast to Eleven Madison Park. If we were to delineate this contrast in terms of music genre, Eleven Madison Park is like the soft, organically cool jazz in the style of Miles Davis and John Coltrane (after all, Chef Humm likes to equate his culinary kitchen at EMP with the art of jazz), while The NoMad is lusciously red and warm in the style of bossa nova (i.e., Brazilian jazz).

Each table has a petite glass gaslight glowing, creating a nicely lit tables throughout the Parlour.

I began the evening with the velvet cobbler -- a concoction of Amontillado sherry, riesling, and lemon verbena. I liked that the cocktail was completely on the rocks -- look at those tiny, marble ice cubes -- and that it came with a speakeasy-style metal straw. It was definitely one of those cocktails that you sip throughout the evening -- it had a strong yet refreshing taste. Just from sampling this one crafted drink from the bar at The NoMad, I knew I would want to return to try other fun, cleverly mixed drinks. Lisa had tea throughout the evening (the tea purveyor for The NoMad is In Pursuit of Tea), all of with which we loved, aromatically and taste-wise. There's a wonderful selection of teas available on the drink menu.

Now, the dinner menu at The NoMad posed the biggest challenge for us, but in the best way possible, of course, mainly because everything on the menu sounded really good. There wasn't really anything we wouldn't want to try, so Lisa and I tried to reason our way into the ideally delicious solution. As we went through all of the menu items, Lisa and I noticed that many of the dishes offered were little vignettes redolent of Eleven Madison Park (e.g., The NoMad sweetbreads snack like EMP's sweetbread cornet; the carrot entrée almost identical; the chicken for two like EMP's seasonal poultry for two; the apple and milk & honey dessert almost identical as well). We found that The NoMad was like the younger sibling, looking up to its older sibling, i.e., Eleven Madison Park -- EMP is a little more traditional and clean-cut while The NoMad is a little more relaxed and casual. However, this is not an indication that the caliber of cuisine is at all spared. If anything, after eating through a good portion of the menu, we came to find that quality and forethought is not at all forgone at The NoMad.

It was really hard to pick just one, but we both decided to share one dish from the snacks section of the menu -- the sweetbreads croustillant (i.e., sweetbread crisps) with parsley. Very much like a French take on spring rolls, these crispy, fried rollups immediately struck Lisa and I into a childhood play of jinx -- "Just like the sweetbread cornets at EMP!" we exclaimed simultaneously. They were a fitting, more casual version of the famed cornets, and we were very much obliged to gobble up each bite. Crunchy and savory -- these are a total tease on your stomach, as it awaits impatiently for the next course.

When we asked our captain about the mysterious "Le Grand Plateau" with assorted fruits de mer (French for "seafood"), she gave us a detailed rundown of which it comprised, and upon hearing "uni" and "oyster" in the same string of items, Lisa and I were dancing on the same gastronomic wavelength, telepathically signaling to each other, "Let's get it!"

"Le Grand Plateau" (French for "the largest tray") for two guests consists of a dual-tiered ceramic bowl filled with ice and laden with maritime fare of all sorts.

The bottom tier included {1} raw scallops on a sea shell, hamachi tartare topped with freshly shaven horseradish, {2} "oysters and snow" and sea urchin over green apple gelée and caviar.

We started with {1} the sea urchin, and it was as heavenly as expected, especially with those pearly orbs of darkened brinyness -- the apple gave it an interesting sweetness to it overall. Then we had the "oyster and snow" (not pictured) which slurped right down, satisfyingly. {2} The raw scallops were great -- enjoyable texture and flavors. {3} The hamachi tartare was refreshing, and Lisa loved the sharp, pungent flavor from the shaved horseradish. It was a little bit much for me (mustard and I have never really made peace with our differences, haha), so I let her have my last few morsels.

The top tier had a couple samplings of two crustaceans -- {1} the lobster with kaffir lime and cayenne pepper and {2} the king crab with avocado. The lobster wasn't very noteworthy to us -- it was bland and overcooked, but the king crab made up for all of that. Soft, juicy, and lightly sweet, its chilled flesh complemented the buttery texture of the cubed avocado. So seafood aficionados -- this pleateau of fare is perfect for you.

Chef Mark Welker is the guy behind the pastry creations at The NoMad (formerly of Eleven Madison Park as a line cook and later its pastry sous chef). He also curates the baked bread that is served for all guests. The one we had the honor of sampling was a loaf of potato and scallion bread. It was warm, soft, and savory in every possible way that bread could be. I would have wolfed this entire loaf myself, but we had quite a bit ahead of us, so I retreated.

A little gift from Alexandra, our captain told us that she didn't want us to "miss" these -- how very sweet of her! These are from the snack menu -- radishes dipped in butter with fleur de sel on the side. Crisp like an apple, only a little less juicy, with a little savoring creaminess from the coated butter, these radishes were such dainty little treats on the palate -- kind of like dirt candy (i.e., candy from the ground)! They were almost too adorable to eat. With a little sprinkle of fleur de sel, these were great meal introduction snacks. Thanks again, Alex!

Before our main course, Lisa and I decided to share the tagliatelle with king crab, Meyer lemon, and black pepper. Similar to the tagliatelle I had at Perla (only Perla's was made from squid ink), this, this pasta was light in texture, tart from the lemon, sweet from the crab, and a little punchy from the black pepper. These ribbons of glorious gluten were so good -- we finished every last strand and every last bit of crab. If our main course was just the tagliatelle, honest to truth, I would have been just as happy and complacent.

So in case you were wondering, we did it. We ordered {1} the whole-roasted chicken for two. How can you deny a chance to taste a bird that has been showered with the decadent combination of brioche crumbs soaked in foie gras and black truffles? Right? So you see the predicament we were in -- we had to order it. The gastronomy gods were surely pleased, but we were in for a beast of a main course. I even got a couple Tweets from my cousin Francis (here and here), when he outright tells me that the chicken for two is "pretty epic" and that I should be prepared to "be carted out of the dining room." We thought we knew what we were getting into -- oooh boy. Only one phrase can really get it right -- "Holy poultry!" Earlier, we had consulted the sommelier about a red wine that would go great with the chicken, and he instantly knew what we would love -- a 2007 "Albe" nebbiolo from Barolo in the Piedmont region of Italy and produced by G. D. Vajra. He made a comment about how nebbiolos (also can be referred to as barolos) have a je ne sais quoi quality about it when sipped standalone, but with food, it sings. We were happy to report that he was indeed right with this pairing!

Each guest receives half a chicken -- {2} the roasted breast and {3} a shared fricassée of dark meat chicken. Under the skin of the breast was a thin layer of brioche crumb mixture that melted right into the chicken as it roasted to a gorgeous, crisp specimen of juicy flavors and delicious aromas -- just like EMP's roasted duck for two. Now you know our stomachs were destined for a dreamy bout of food comas. Every bite was as rich and pretty much melted right into our mouths. Who could ever imagine these three beautiful ingredients -- foie gras, brioche, and black truffle -- could be married to create a culinary masterpiece? Even the fricassée was delicious -- a stew of dark meat and mushrooms, warm with lots of earthy flavors. We were so full by the end of it, so much so that I had to take a little walk around the hotel to help ease it a little. The other maître d' even coyly said that he was surprised I wasn't having trouble walking, and it wasn't because I had just suffered a hairline fracture that landed me in a walking boot, but rather from having just eaten the infamous roasted chicken. Francis was right -- Lisa and I both needed to be carted out of there ASAP!

In between the main course and what would be the last (i.e., dessert), we asked our captain to give us a comfortable break in between courses, so we could make a little room for something sweet. She was happy to oblige, and we were spending most of this time fathoming how spectacular the meal was, even before dessert and contemplating when our next visit should be. Yup, we're those people! :P

In honor of our ordering strategy, which I didn't even realize until I began drafting this post, I had the milk and honey dessert with shortbread, brittle, and ice cream. Our captain told us that this dessert is the perfected version of the inspired original that was created in the kitchen of EMP which had resembled a lovely pile of snow on a plate. I love the new iteration -- the oblong orbs of ice cream resemble little bumble bees with caramel delineating its stripes. So incredibly clever! This entire dessert was the essence of "milk and honey" -- I felt like I was among the bees, tasting the glossy gobs of thick nectar from the honey combs (the holes in the crumbly shortbread certainly resemble them!) with a little creaminess wrapped in there. The milk and honey dessert is as sweet as it looks! So classic for EMP and now The NoMad!

Lisa had the apple dessert -- brandy brioche (right) with apple sorbet (left) and caramel brittle. The apple sorbet part was also inspired by an old EMP dish, which had originally be served inside a beaker-like glass. I thought the brioche was great (lightly doughy and buttery), but Lisa wasn't crazy about the brandy that was drizzled all over it. Considering how well we did with our ordering, one little dessert order botch wasn't going to ruin our wonderful evening we had with each other and with everyone at The NoMad.

Included with our check were these cheeky little business cards, suavely adding more great hospitality with the fantastic service we were already given. Love this extra touch -- just shows how much the details means to the dining team at The NoMad! What's even cooler is the logo for The NoMad is a inscribed circle which contains all of the letters of "nomad" (obviously, the circle represents the O).

Findings: Lisa and I loved everything about our dining experience at The NoMad, though for us, it wasn't any grand surprise. We have been avid followers of Chef Daniel Humm and his culinary creations, as well as the hospitality behind the management of Danny Meyer and Will Guidara, since our first visit to Eleven Madison Park back in December 2009. Who knew we would fall hopelessly in love with another restaurant (led by the same team, no less) in the same way we did with EMP? While the ambiance and personality are contrastly different from its sister restaurant, The NoMad sacrifices nothing at that expense, especially with its caliber of cuisine and accomodation. We were met with nothing but excitement and graciousness for joining the team that evening for dinner. What was even more impressive was that the restaurant had barely been open six weeks, and they were already pulling all the stops of smooth and welcoming service as well as incredibly amazing dinner fare. We also didn't mind the throwbacks to EMP, circa 2009-2011 -- brought us back to some of our favorite meals.

What I admire very much about The NoMad (besides all of the winning qualities that I've raved about already, haha) is the space in which it is housed. The hotel is romantic, exquisite, and resplendent. Gilded with well-designed and curated pieces, the multiple rooms within The NoMad create many iterations of different dining experiences that you can have. From a full-blown, extravagant dinner to casual snacking at the bar with cleverly concocted beverages, The NoMad is almost like a one-stop shop for all of your dining needs. Plus, the menu anxiously awaits to be explored.

Thanks again to Alexandra and the service team at The NoMad for such a phenomenal dinner. Hoping to be back soon, especially to check out the bar more thoroughly as well as The Library!

Price point: $13 for each cocktail, $21 for each glass of wine, $7 for each pot of tea, $8-9 for each snack, $24 per person for Le Grand Plateau, $9 for each snack, $19 for each appetizer, $78 for chicken (for two), $13-14 for each dessert.

--May 11, 2012

The NoMad
The NoMad Hotel
1170 Broadway
New York, NY 10001

1 comment:

  1. Sounds pretty amazing. The food looks luscious and divine, but I guess I should be expecting that in a luxury hotel restaurant. I hope our accommodation in lancaster gate hotel london will also include a dinner at a posh restaurant.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...