Sunday, March 03, 2013

NYC's new NoMad is not mad, but magnificent (2-26-13)

This past week I was in NYC overnight and had the pleasure of staying

at the less than one year old hotel the NoMad located at Broadway and

28th Street. It was fun to return to the Garment District, where my

father had his over for well over 1/2 a century and I visited often,

but never to such a wonderful restaurant.

The NoMad Restaurant( in the

hotel is owned and run by the same team just several blocks south

(hence the name) at Eleven Madison park (probably our favorite fine

dining spot in NY).

Swiss Chef Daniel Humm moves between the two locations and was

actually sitting at a table near me for much of the time I was there!

The space is made up of several rooms with one large central room

under the large glass ceiling built to cover the courtyard in the

center of the hotel, a historic building beautifully restored. It is

comfy, but a bit noisy, and while I arrived for dinner at 9pm, the

noise never really abated (I left at midnight). The side rooms are

quieter and the one with the fireplace is where I would love to return

to next time I visit.

The service here is supreme, and while it is not the 3-star ten-people-

waiting-on-you-constantly style of Eleven Madison Park, my 6 foot 5

inch Lurch-sized server Lucas and the sommelieuse Nicole, were both

there whenever I seemed to need them.

There is house filtered sparkling water which I always like and an

amazing wine and cocktail list as well. I started with a 1/2 bottle of

Billuad-Simon Montee de Tonnere 1er Cru 2009 Chablis upon Nicole's

suggestion. She said it would pair with my first courses well and that

we could move on from there.

I had many problems trying to pick and choose from the many options,

but had just come from the Relais et Chateaux annual NY hotelier

showcase and two people there had instructed me on what to order: "a

special seafood platter" and the duck. Well, I tend to stay away from

those seafood platters and they are more ice than interesting, but I

listened to Lucas and changed my mind very fast.

"Le Grand Plateau Fruits de Mer" is a small tray-bowl filled with

shaved ice came with six separate amuse like dishes within. At $24,

this comes to $4 per amuse; a pretty reasonable price I think:

Oyster with mignonette (nice, tasty, but nothing out of the ordinary)

Scallop Ceviche with Pistachio & Cilantro served in the scallop shell

(ok, we are getting better here)

Alaskan King Crab with Avocado Mousse served in an open-sided crab leg

shell--now we are talking!

Lobster & Jalapeno aioli was tasty and fun

Himachi with Fresh Grated Horseradish was intense, but I like

horseradish and this was like a Passover treat!

The winner was the Sea Urchin Panna Cotta with apple which I was happy

was the largest of them all and gave me time to enjoy bites at the

start, middle and end.

Since I told Lucas I adored sweetbreads he suggested the SWEETBREADS

Croustillant with Parsley which was listed under the "snack" column

rather than appetizer. Lucas was dead on. It was a portion of four

miniature scalding hot egg rolls stuffed with sweetbreads. Once I let

them cool a bit they were crunchy and divine.

While these were two dishes, Lucas was right when he said they were

wonderful, but not filling. I was then torn between several appetizers

and went with his ideal suggestion of the PRAWN poached with CLAM,

POTATO & BACON. This was like a foamish chowder...not too thick or

heavy, but not too empty like some of those awful chemical foams chefs

can make these days. Crisp bacon and cripy potato, tiny clams and

perfectly poached shrimp made up the guts of the ethereal dish with a

dash of dill.

Somewhere in this time frame a mini-loaf of Onion Fingerling Potato

Dill Bread arrived which melted in my mouth. I wanted to finish it

all, but knew it would destroy me; so I asked to have the remaining

3/4 packed up for breakfast in my room the next day.

I had already decided on the Roasted DUCK with Braised Salsify, Orange

and Red Watercress which I asked Lucas to hold for 30 minutes while I

chose a wine and rested. Nicole and I hemmed and hawed for a while and

decided on a bottle of Olga Raffault "Les Picasses" 1990 Chinon

(Cabernet Franc) which was green, minerally and earthy at 23 years

old. It seemed more logical to enjoy this fantastic rare wine at some

higher price than 3 glasses at some $20 each! While I sipped my wine

I noticed oh so many aromas floating by as the space is small and one

tends to see and smell just about every dish that comes out of the

kitchen. Indeed, the Asian couple to one side of me enjoyed their food

quite fast and spent their whole meal on their smart phones. The

Swedish couple on my other side were wonderful and we chatted about

food, wine and more as we shared our wines.

By the way, NoMad uses Riedel Crystal, but also a modernish one called

Zalto which is very nice.

The Long Island Peking Duck arrived and it came in three roulades with

wonderfully crispy skin

on a puree of blood orange with puree of same and salsify chips along

with the braised. Orange salt was tasty, but perhaps a bit too intense

for all the flavors on the plate, which I would order again in a


I knew that the Swiss chef adored his native cheeses and could not

resist the platter of 5 Swiss cheeses:

Tomme Vaudoise-raw cow that was creamy and brie-like but milder from


Mont Vully-raw cow from Cressier that was tasty and sharp

Emmentaler-super earthy raw cow

Petit Vaccarinus-raw cow from La Chaux that put me in creamy gooey


Buffalo Blue from Liechtenstein that was another rare treat!

These came with Apple Butter Compote that was unexciting, but the

cheeses are not to be missed; perhaps next time I will go for the

Chocolate Malted Ganache, Chocolate Fondant and Malted Ice Cream I saw

at a nearby table!

There are indeed no amuses, no mignardises and no extras, and while

the prices are high here, they are oh so worthy of the top quality

food, service and experience one expects from the Eleven Madison Park