March 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
The popular and well regarded NoMad hotel and restaurant are owned by the same group that operates Eleven Madison Park, so when a group of us went for dinner at the end of January, we knew we were in for a treat. Upon entering, we could see that the dining area was broken up into different sections with different decor in each – the atrium, the parlour, etc. – and we were seated in the parlour, which was sumptuously decorated with velvet chairs, ornate furniture and lots of red. We stuck with cocktails and beer for our meal, and because I was craving something super citrus-y and refreshing, I actually started with a non-alcoholic basil-fennel lime soda and asked for a healthy splash of Hendrick’s gin to be added.
Our small bites to start were the butter dipped radishes with fleur de sel, a very rich chicken liver mousse and the scotch olives with lamb’s sausage with sheep’s milk cheese. Everything gave a really great first impression of the kitchen, including the super French-inspired simple and kinda cute looking radishes, and my favorites were the scotch olives (which is saying something because normally, I don’t even like olives), which were expertly fried and just the right amount of gaminess from the lamb’s sausage. There was also some killer, toasted on the outside but cloud-soft on the inside pita-esque bread that they kept replenishing throughout our meal, seasoned with caraway and other spices that I couldn’t identify that we could just not get enough of.
As mentioned earlier, after cocktails, we decided to order 2 growlers of beer instead of wine for our starters and entrees, mainly because our main course, the famous roast chicken dish for two (times two because there were four of us), had been recommended with a specifically brewed Belgian-style brown ale by Brooklyn Brewery called Le Poulet. It definitely proved to be an interesting pairing, especially since the roast chicken came with foie gras and truffles, (typically very luxurious ingredients you’d think would go better with wine) yet the carbonation and savoriness of the beer was a great match with food so rich.
Moving on, for starters, we shared the slow poached egg with cauliflower, kale and almonds, which had a great combination of different textures (smooth and unctuous from the egg, light and crispy from the fried kale and crunchy from the almonds), the foie gras with shaved beef carpaccio and mushrooms (surprisingly probably one of the least memorable dishes of the evening) and the tortelloni with celery root and black truffles, which blew everyone’s minds with its perfectly cooked pasta and pure umami, truffly deliciousness. We definitely used that caraway bread to scoop up every last bite of that celery root sauce, which I still crave to this day.
Our main course, the roast chicken for two, was the biggest reason why I wanted to come to the NoMad. It’s been hyped up ever since chef Daniel Humm put it on the menu, and after trying it, I think it’s well worth all the praise and good reviews. They actually present the whole chicken, in all its golden and shiny splendor, to you before they take it back to the kitchen for carving. Out comes a plate with the perfectly cooked, not to dry breast, which has black truffles and foie gras (too much of a good thing can only be even better) stuffed underneath the beautifully burnished skin on top of a bed of brussels sprouts and lentils. The dark meat comes in a separate side dish with crispy, well seasoned chicken skin, more brussels sprouts, slightly sweet brioche bread and some insane cream sauce that makes it taste like a savory bread pudding on steroids. This was actually my favorite dish of the night and I would come back just for this.
After our small bites, starters and then the roast chicken (as well as the two growlers of beer), we could’ve called it quits but no…time for dessert! As someone who doesn’t usually care for sweets, I was intrigued by the milk and honey dessert, with shortbread, brittle and ice cream and it definitely did not disappoint. It’s a dish that’s kind of hard to describe and the techniques seemed slightly avant-garde, but the flavors were very familiar and very comforting. It was also very light, especially compared to the cobbler dessert we also ordered. By the end of the meal, a long walk home in the cold weather was definitely needed.
The restaurant at NoMad is a real gem. Compared with Eleven Madison Park, which is super refined and sophisticated, serving dishes that feel incredibly modern (but are still very delicious), NoMad is a place that executes the dishes you know and love at the highest level. At the same time, throughout our meal, service was super friendly, attentive and not stuffy in the slightest. We had a really lovely time in a beautiful setting and felt very lucky to indulge in all the food that we did. I hope it’s not too long before I get to go back and have some more of that tortelloni and roast chicken.
January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
Finally, exactly six months later, I’ve managed to post about Eleven Madison Park. This was without a doubt the longest (by the time Cindy and I finished this most expensive date ever, it was 1:30am), most extravagant, most memorable meal of Summer 2012 and going through the photos felt like I was reliving it over and over again. Apparently, a lot of the menu has changed since we visited – Daniel Humm, the chef, and the kitchen have revamped the menu twice, I believe – but I can’t imagine that the attention to detail, the warm service (unlike my initial impression of extreme fine dining restaurants, EMP’s staff was very friendly, un-pretentious, and patient, given our very late conclusion to the meal), and the exquisite food has gotten anything but better. I’m too lazy to go into detail about every dish, so just believe me when I say that every single course actually felt necessary (if that’s the right word) towards the overall progression of the meal and distinct in its own right, whether it was the concentrated flavors of the tomato tea, the nostalgia of the clambake, or the sheer unique-ness of the whey with curds and gnocchi.
There’s been a trend lately for high-end dining chefs to explore rustic, comfort food at a friendlier price point (chalk it up to the recession or whatever you want) but there’s still something to be said about taking the time (and money) to sit down and enjoy a long meal that lets you forget about everything else. It’ll be a while before I get to return to EMP (I’d love to try the duck course that everyone raves about), but I do think that, if you manage to get the hard-won reservation, it’s definitely well worth the splurge. Thank you to Daniel Humm, the EMP kitchen, and the amazing EMP staff for a truly unforgettable meal, and to Cindy for being crazy enough to go with me and spend so much on a single meal.
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010