I’d been hearing great things over the interwebs about NoMad, and for the restaurant project I’d been working on in Shanghai, we’d been inspired by the elegant minimalism of the restaurant’s menu (the sleek layout and the beautiful font).IMG_1958 IMG_1954Alas, we knew that the restraint that NoMad displayed on its menu would undoubtedly invite questions about each dish, which then required a certain aptitude in service that at the time our fresh service staff in Shanghai, having not spent any time with the kitchen staff in tastings, wouldn’t be able to handle.  So in turn, I was very excited to see how the NoMad front-of-house would perform, given its proximity in concept and leadership to Eleven Madison Park, one of the city’s meccas of fine dining.

We started with this warm load of bread with beans and rosemary:DSC_0594-001As an appetizer, we ordered the tagliatelle with king crab, meyer lemon, and black pepper.  The balance of creaminess and sharp citrus was perfect, and the crab succulent and sweet.DSC_0595-001We had to get the whole-roasted chicken for two.  It was mandatory.  Especially when the stuffing is a heart-stopped concoction of foie gras, black truffles, and brioche.  And quite a show when they bring by the chicken en cocotte before taking it back to the kitchen.  I’m glad we came a bit later after the power lunch rush, if only because we didn’t have to see an endless parade of roast chickens through the dining rooms (I’m assuming other diners weren’t foolish enough to skip the dish).DSC_0597When the chicken came back out, there were two presentations.  In one, the breast had been neatly sliced and plated atop mashed potatoes and seasonal greens, with some vinegary halved shallots.DSC_0602The dark meat had been cooked in a fricassee with mushrooms and shallots and topped with a vin jaune hollandaise (more details on the whole process here at the NY Times).DSC_0600-001So incredibly flavorful (and rich).  I wish they’d just put all the remaining scraps of skin on a small plate and delivered it tableside, because I could’ve eaten that for days.

What impressed me about the NoMad experience, apart from the delicious (and wonderful-to-look-about) food, were the poise and the smoothness of the ensemble.  From the details, you can tell that thought had been given to the small elements – make a gorgeous loaf of bread (and present it with a serrated knife carefully arranged), bring the roast chicken tableside with its plume of herbs before dispatching it to the kitchen, the measured, soft-spoken confidence of the waiter’s voice.  Each detail served a purpose, but nothing screamed for you to say “be impressed” – it was more subtle, that along the way you would notice a few things and maybe think that whoever put it all together cared very much about your time here.

Not to gloss over dessert, the ‘milk and honey’, which was also a bit of a revelation.  Simple, just two flavors, one of which is milk.  But so interesting – a hodgepodge of texture and temperature (ice, ice cream, shortbread, brittle, syrupy honey) and such intensity of flavor (particularly of the honey).  Really well-thought out.  And just like the previous courses, a beautifully composed dish.DSC_0605Nomad
1170  Broadway & 28th  Street
New York, NY 10001
T 212 796 1500

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