- scene: Slightly funky old/new vibe; skylight keeps the dining room light, and the big dark wood bar in the bar is impressive; the library will be cozy in the winter but is a little dark now
- sip: A list of 30 custom cocktails is offered; when we asked for some guidance we were met with slight attitude, but the bartender eventually came around; well-rounded wine list full of surprises
- savor: Trout; Snap pea salad; Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
- sit: With at least one other person to share the chicken; with your parents, foodie friends from out of town, friends who live in the neighborhood
- spend: $$$
- address: 1170 Broadway (at 28th Street)
- phone number: (212) 796-1500
- website: www.thenomadhotel.com
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a new chicken king in town, and he is rich, tasty, and full of suprises. Forget everything you know about chicken, because next to the chicken for two at The NoMad, every other fowl just looks foul.
I love fanciness. Slide me into some serious threadcount sheets at a five star hotel and feed me champagne all day long if you like. I don’t, however, particularly care for stuffiness, pretension or unesecary formality. When I heard about Daniel Humm’s new place NoMad, all I could think about was the stifling pace and polite glass clinking at Eleven Madison Park. As good as the food is, it is a major commitment to dine there. The NoMad takes food of the highest level, and delivers it in a slightly more relaxed and less intimidating setting. There were soul classics playing on the radio, and a non-intrusive friendliness to the staff that in no way undermined the skill level of both the front and back of house staff.
Now, it has become somehwhat de riguer in NYC for chefs to elevate even the most simple of dishes by adding high end, expensive ingredients. The most obvious example of this is the DB Bistro Moderne burger, with foie gras and truffles. Roast chicken, even in its simpletst form, is my most favorite dish, so of course I was curious and intrigued to see how foie gras and truffles could enhance this dish without taking it over. We will get to that .
It speaks to the amazingness of the meal that I forgot all about the bread with zucchini and cheese and radishes with butter that were given to us when we sat down until days later. The bread was good enough, but did not tip the scales of temptation enough to ruin my appetite. The radishes were the equivalent of chocolate covered strawberries, but they were radishes dipped in butter. To start we selected the smoked trout and the snow pea salad. Both of these dishes were feats of beauty and texture, and let us know that we were in for something truly outstanding. The trout was smoky and soft, served on ribbons of cucumber in a light foam and spotted with gorgeous orange dollops of salmon roe. The snow peas were crunchy and tangy from the cheese and salty from the pork- a perfect, zippy summer salad.
At some point we were presented with our whole chicken, or a whole chicken, which we oohed and ahhed over until it was taken into the back and cut up. The chicken presentation is pretty SOP, but there was nothing standard about everything that came next. When our plucky clucky friend returned, we were each given a breast on a plate, with some truffled potato puree and some white asparagus. The white palatte of these veggies allow the true chicken star to shine. The breast comes with a crispy sheath of skin on it, which acts like a little hat that locks in all of the breadcrumbs loaded with foie gras and truffles. A bite of skin, breadcrumnbs and breast is transcendent and truly one of a kind. Not to be neglected, the dark meat gets its own special treatment with a fricassee of mushrooms and a wine sauce, basically making it the best chicken marsala you have ever had. This comes in a separate dish from the breasts, and could truly be a stand alone in its own right.
In our chicken induced blissed out coma, we were almost too full to order dessert, but that would have been a major mistake. The chocolate, caramel and hazelnut number with fleur de sel was good enough to convert me a dessert eater. I love hazelnut and the combination of fleur de sel and and chocolate adds just enough salt to make me happy. We rolled out of the NoMad not unlike the chicken itself- completely stuffed with amazingess.
A special note that the approachable attitude and on-point suggestion of the sommelier really added to our experience. He truly took into consideration the flavors of the chicken when recommending a red wine for us, rather than trying to gorge us on the price or make us uncomfortable. We actually saw another bottle of the same wine going to another table as well; we liked it so much for the price that we have ordered a case of it to drink at home.
P.S. If you are reserving on OpenTable, make sure it is The NoMad, not just Nomad, which is Mediterranean food in the East Village…