THE NOMAD RESTAURANT
ADDRESS: 1170 Broadway, New York, NY 10001
Dressing up to go out to eat is not something that I normally do. It’s not because I don’t enjoy it, but rather because the opportunities are not as frequent. But during my recent trip back up to New Jersey to see my parents, we spent the weekend out in New York City and took advantage of the chance to hit up a more upscale restaurant.
The NoMad Restaurant, located inside the hotel of the same namesake, ended up being our final selection after we had perused through the menus of several other places as well. Located in midtown Manhattan and within walking distance of our hotel, the restaurant featured an array of refined American cuisine, from meats to seafood to vegetables.
We showed up promptly for our 6 p.m. reservation and got seated immediately. In walking through the dining area, it was interesting to note the contrast between two distinct sections. One was the glass atrium area, where it was very brightly lit and reminiscent of an outdoor courtyard of sorts. Where we ended up getting seated was a space called “The Parlour,” with dimmed lighting, dark oak furniture, and velvet fabric on the chairs. It was definitely a stark contrast to the atrium space and certainly provided a much more elegant atmosphere.
In many of the food photos that I had looked at as well as the reviews I had read, there was one dish that seemingly kept cropping up: the roast chicken for two. With how popular it appeared to be, I told my parents it was something we definitely ought to try. The $98 price tag might have initially raised some eyebrows, but when you consider how much the per person cost compares to some of the other entrées on the menu, it was right there in the same neighborhood.
My mom and I decided to split the roast chicken dish, while my dad opted for the striped bass entrée. In addition to those, we also decided to put in an order of the baba ghanoush appetizer as well. Imagine our surprise when the waitstaff brought over two hearth-baked flatbreads after we ordered. Turns out, we had an appetizer for our appetizer course.
I honestly found myself hard-pressed to stop eating the flatbreads once I started. One of them was a plain flatbread, served with olive oil for dipping. The other was what I would consider more of an “artisanal” flatbread, with herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, and thin zucchini slices baked into it. That one didn’t need any oil at all; the flavors from those other ingredients naturally helped to elevate each bite of the bread.
Once we were about halfway through our flatbreads, the baba ghanoush made its way to the table. Plated using a ring mold, the appetizer was also served with its own smaller flatbread to complement the baba ghanoush, which is made from mashed eggplant, tahini, olive oil, and some lemon juice. This particular interpretation also added some sort of tomato or red pepper layer on top.
When trying it for the first time, there was this semi-strong aromatic flavor that I’m not sure where it came from. It was similar to cucumber or mint, but I remember that it took me a little by surprise. I had been expecting more of an earthy flavor to the dish as a whole, so I think it detracted from my overall enjoyment of the dish.
Our dining table was actually pretty well situated near the kitchen pass, so that afforded my parents a pretty good view of what was going on inside the kitchen. (I was sitting with my back towards it.) They said that they saw a few of the roast chickens pop out from the kitchen, neatly dressed with herbs and still sizzling in the cast iron roasting pan. Before long, one of them ended up heading our way.
A member of the waitstaff brings the pan over the table, displaying the roast chicken while the inviting aromas waft over. The presentation was impressive, with the chicken skin browned perfectly after appearing to be basted with butter. The chicken is then taken back into the kitchen, where they break everything down for the final plating.
From the single roast chicken came four separate plates: two of them being the chicken breast served with a corn medley and mushroom purée, another was the de-boned wing meat, and the last was the rib and thigh meat tossed in a corn velouté with freekeh and dried chanterelle mushrooms.
The special thing about the chicken breast (and wing meat as well) was the fact that there was a thin layer of foie gras and brioche stuffed right underneath the crispy chicken skin. It provided a perfect hit of umami in each bite of the chicken, but was balanced well enough not to overpower the protein. The chicken also retained its moisture very well through the roast.
That corn velouté mixture with the rib and thigh meats was pretty hard to stop eating as well. The amount of velouté was just enough to coat the pieces of chicken, with the freekeh and mushrooms providing some earthy notes as well to contrast with the sweetness of the corn. There was good reason that I kept seeing this roast chicken dish over and over in the reviews online, and now I know firsthand just how amazing the attention to detail and depth of flavors really are.
For the most part, the food quality, dining ambiance, and precision of service lived up to the expectations. The only area I felt was lacking, however, was the warmth of hospitality (for lack of a better description). The waitstaff were always around to attend to your requests, answer questions, or refill your drinks. None of the waitstaff, however, ever introduced themselves, so it never really felt personable. Maybe that’s normally how service is at upscale restaurants in the city, but it was certainly one thing that stuck out to me.
As a restaurant that is owned and operated by the same chef and restauranteur team responsible for Eleven Madison Park, my expectations for the place were already set pretty high. Add on top the fact that The NoMad is a Michelin one-star restaurant (as of the 2019 Michelin Guide) and my bar clicked up a few more notches. I walked away very impressed with the food, in both taste and presentation, along with the overall dining atmosphere within the space. The contemporary American offerings helped to elevate and enhance traditional ingredients, while still keeping them familiar at the same time.
Let’s now take a look at the NoMad Restaurant Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Roast Chicken for Two **
Chicken breast with thin layer of foie gras and brioche under the skin, served with a corn medley and mushroom purée (pictured top). Rib and thigh meat tossed in a corn velouté, topped with freekeh and dried chanterelle mushrooms (pictured bottom right). De-boned chicken wing meat, served on a bed of greens with shaved baby corn (pictured bottom left).
And finally, here are my rankings for The NoMad Restaurant:
Food: 4.75 / 5
The roast chicken dish definitely checked the boxes in both taste and presentation, and was the standout of the night for me. For something like roast chicken to be elevated in such a way spoke to the creativity of the chefs in crafting the dish together. The baba ghanoush was a bit of a slight miss for my taste, but everything else, including the flatbreads and dessert, were executed perfectly.
Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5
It seemed like the NoMad had a blend of different dining spaces available, between the more casual feel of the courtyard to the elegant nature of the “parlour” area that we were seated in. Our table’s location was pretty nice, since it was kind of in between the two, not to mention having a view into the kitchen a little bit.
Service: 4 / 5
Like I mentioned above, there was no issue with the quality of the service provided. Members of the waitstaff were always around in case you needed something, were very attentive of what was going on at the table, and the pacing of the food from the kitchen was done very well. But the personable feel was definitely lacking, which was something I expected from a restaurant of this caliber.
Price: 4.5 / 5
When it comes to upscale dining, the price tag will be representative of the entire experience as a whole. Quality of food, the overall dining atmosphere, and the level of service you receive. With food alone hovering around $55 per person, I thought that the price point was worth it when you take everything into account.