NYC — Winter 2015: The NoMad

Sunday, February 22, 2015
What a lot of people don't realize when visiting NYC is that a lot of upscale restaurants offer prix-fixe lunch menus at a set value price that is significantly lower than their dinner menus. This is mostly to boost their lunch-time business, of course, but it doesn't mean the quality is any less, or the dishes any less exquisite. One such example is our lunch on Wednesday afternoon at The NoMad, a restaurant that is run by the same duo who run Eleven Madison Park (a very popular, much-lauded fine-dining restaurant that offers "upscale American tasting menus") in a slightly more accessible, less formal environment located inside The NoMad Hotel. I have wanted to try this place for quite some time (since I saw this review in The New York Times a couple years ago), so when we were choosing where to make reservations on this trip, The NoMad was the first on my list.

Focaccia bread

In lieu of amuse-bouches or a bread basket, The NoMad offers a warm focaccia loaf laced with potato, onion, and rosemary, still steaming when you pull it apart. The crust is crisp and delicate, with softened butter melted right into the bread, and big enough to be considered a course on its own. This is not bread that you ignore on a side plate; this is bread as an event, and every morsel should be devoured. You will see that no one at any given table leaves any piece of this bread behind.

Gingered-Ale and The Cease and Desist

The NoMad is also known for their cocktail program; they have won multiple awards and are consistently named in Best Bar lists. That having been said, I don't drink, and it was also 1:00 in the afternoon. Enter soft cocktails. Yes, The NoMad has four non-alcoholic cocktails that are imagined and crafted in the same fashion as their alcoholic counterparts; that is, with care and creativity. We chose the Gingered-Ale, made with ginger, lime, demerara sugar, and sparkling mineral water; and The Cease and Desist, a concoction made with orange juice, cream, and orange blossom water. The Gingered-Ale is like a silky, sophisticated version of a ginger ale, with a hint of tartness from the lime, and a spicy kick from using real ginger. Aside from being tasty, it's actually great for digestion, too. The Cease and Desist is like a grown-up version of an Orange Julius, though less vanilla-based and with a more fragrant after-taste; I would recommend this more as a post-meal drink, perhaps in lieu of a dessert if you're too full. Both were excellent, though, so if you're like me and don't drink alcohol (or you're not in the mood to drink in the middle of the day) but want something more interesting than pop or water, The NoMad's soft cocktails are definitely worth trying.

Tête de Cochon

Started just this past December, The NoMad now offers two courses for $29 for lunch, which is an excellent deal by any New York standard, especially at an upscale restaurant. Your choice of one appetizer, and one main. Obviously, as a charcuterie lover, I had to get the tête de cochonThe terrine is served with frisée salad, pickled vegetables, and pommery mustard with a side of buttered grilled rye bread, beautifully presented on thick wooden planks. The terrine is firm, flavourful, and smooth; cut a piece, place atop a piece of toast, smear a dab of mustard, and you've got a perfect marriage of flavours and textures. I always love the pickled vegetables that are served with terrines, too; the onions were my favourite here, and provide such a nice contrast to the salty, smoky flavours of the terrine. 

Chicken Burger

For my main, I decided on the chicken burger. And no ordinary chicken burger, mind you, because it's The NoMad. Mixed with black truffle pâté, topped with foie gras spread, black truffle mayonnaise, Gruyère, and frisée in between a toasted brioche bun infused with lemon zest, Gruyère, and even more chopped black trufflesIt's served with gorgeous thin-cut fries and addictive crispy fried parsley. Could we get any more indulgent at lunch? The meat is soft and tender and perfectly cooked, and the mayo adds just the right amount of creaminess  adding other condiments to it would be blasphemy. It's rich and decadent, but is just the perfect size so that you never feel like it's too much. I would have expected no less from celebrated three Michelin star chef Daniel Humm. Service is outstanding, of course  polite, friendly, and attentive; the restaurant itself tries to evoke Belle Époque decadence, with rich colours and fabrics, dark panelled walls, brocade prints and gilded mirrors. Everything about The NoMad screams luxury, and yet it's not pretentious. I had an amazing experience and would definitely come back again  I still have to indulge in their famed whole-roasted chicken for two. But for those who want upscale on a budget, you can't really beat The NoMad's $29 lunch service.

The NoMad
1170 Broadway
New York, NY 10001
(347) 472-5660
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