At first I didn't care about The NoMad. Then I did. It's one of those things. Even though the restaurant has been billed as more casual than Eleven Madison Park, it's not exactly meatballs, fried chicken and burgers. With well-spaced tables and a velvet-and-mahogany plushness (I was in the still-day lit atrium), it's the kind of place you get your parents to take you if you're young and have doting parents with good taste (none of this describes my situation). Instead, I acted as the adult and took out a friend for her birthday.
I don't think normally either of us is sweet on crudite, but it felt WASPy and right. And when the vegetables, all saturated colors with a cool green chive dressing, was presented on its bed of ice, I knew this was the correct snack choice while sipping a Turf Cocktail (gin, dry vermouth, maraschino, absinthe, orange bitters) and Gingered-Ale, soft cocktail (not for me).
This is the same friend that is always up for an annual Never Ending Pasta Bowl, no irony, so now we've proven that we're also able to appreciate the dainty portion of tagliatelle with king crab meat and a hint of Meyer lemon. Sure, we could've eaten twice as much (and you can–this was an appetizer size). The NoMad is not inexpensive, but at $19, even I have to concede that this dish is a better value than the seafood alfredo that's $21.25 at the Times Square Olive Garden. There is no justifying midtown chain dining beyond an emotional urge (pros go to New Jersey to assuage their guilt).
Zucchini bread that’s not, you know, zucchini bread.
And of course, the blabbed-about roast chicken for two. Normally, I wouldn’t order roast chicken outside of a Peruvian or Caribbean restaurant, otherwise it’s dry and boring as a Thanksgiving turkey. I just wanted to see what the big deal was. I forgot to take a photo of the whole bird (it’s not like there aren’t enough pics floating around already) stuffed with rosemary and lavender sprigs. (A minor deal is made with presenting the picture perfect chicken to the diners before being taken back into the kitchen for carving, but ours got shown to our neighbors first accidentally, so the dramatic reveal was lessened.)
When it came back, the breast, a blend of crumbled brioche, foie gras and black truffles tucked beneath the skin, was plated with a swipe of truffled foie gras, beige and creamy like a makeup swatch of foundation, a farro-corn medly and a little jus. I generally eat chicken as a vehicle for crispy skin and shun vast hunks of white meat (I’ll never understand people who insist on white meat like it’s premium when in reality it’s bland 90% of the time) but, no, this wasn’t disappointing. Apparently, basting with liquefied foie gras does wonders for white meat.
The dark meat came in a separate small cast iron pan with mushrooms that were like the dark meat of the fungi world (I don't know which type, but definitely not the morels I've seen mentioned elsewhere) and corn in a rich tarragon-y sauce.
Chocolate and salted caramel isn’t pushing any boundaries, but you can’t argue with the combination.
In a way, the same could be said for the whole menu. Unseen preparation aside, nothing feels radical, and it doesn't have to. Chicken breast, pasta and raw vegetables with dip have the potential to be utterly boring and dated where instead, here, it comes off timeless and luxe.
The NoMad * 1170 Broadway, New York, NY