Josh and I recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary and to honor the occasion, we had a rare night out in the city by ourselves. With Josh’s parents watching J for us, we were finally able to have a nice meal without worrying about diaper bags, teethers, toys, baby food, or imminent meltdowns. We didn’t have much debate on where to eat for our anniversary dinner. Josh and I are both big fans of Eleven Madison Park, where we celebrated our second anniversary, and so making a reservation at The NoMad, Chef Daniel Humm and Restaurateur Will Guidara’s newish restaurant (they’re the team behind EMP), was a no-brainer.
When Josh called the restaurant earlier in the week to confirm our reservation, he let them know that we were celebrating our anniversary, and requested a “romantic” table. While they said there’s really no table more romantic than others, they did seat us at a nice table in the center of the Parlour room, next to a pillar so that we had a little privacy, with not many other tables so close by. We were also wished a happy anniversary by several people before we were even seated, which I thought was very nice, and they poured us complimentary glasses of sparkling wine to toast with.
Bread was served first, and it was pretty fantastic. It was a whole loaf of flatbread, similar to foccacia but slightly crustier, that was topped with rosemary and garlic and filled with chickpeas. The bread was served warm, and the aroma coming off of it was heavenly. It was light, not dense, and had just the perfect amount of salt on the outside. I’ve read that the toppings change depending on the season, but I really enjoyed the combination we received. I think we showed a lot of restraint by pacing ourselves and not polishing the bread off immediately, and we refrained from asking for a second loaf when it was finished (although I was really tempted to!).
The menu is split into three sections – snacks, appetizers, and entrees. As The NoMad is known for its cocktails, I can see ordering a few of the snacks if you are just stopping by for a few drinks and a little nosh. While some of the snack items did seem tempting, like the sweetbreads croustillant and the beef tartare, too many things on the appetizer/entree menu were calling out to us instead. We decided to put together a mini tasting menu of our own, selecting four appetizers and two entrees to share. We asked the waiter to bring the dishes two at a time, in whatever order the kitchen deemed appropriate. Josh also asked the sommelier to put together a wine pairing for each of the dishes.
For our first course, they brought us the spring garlic veloute and the fluke. The fluke was sliced thin and served raw, though it was marinated with acid so it had a ceviche-like quality. The fish was still fresh, it just had a nice pop of brightness to it that permeated the flesh. It was served with a sorrel puree, amaranth, and royal trumpet mushrooms. The sorrel and the baby lettuce on the plate added a refreshing aspect to the dish, and the mushrooms a bit of earthiness. The amaranth provided a nice textural crunch.
The spring garlic veloute was not what I expected. First, it was cold. That was fine, it was just surprising at first taste when you’re expecting something to be hot. Second, it was sour, in a vinegary sort of way. Not unpleasantly so, but it also didn’t taste much like garlic to me. We had some experience with spring garlic when we were part of a CSA, and I found it to be intensely garlicky in flavor, but not pungent. This veloute was sort of the opposite, in that it was pungent, but not garlicky. I didn’t love the veloute by itself, but when eaten with the accompanying fresh fava beans, ricotta, ham (which I think was prosciutto), and toasted crouton, it was more balanced; the other ingredients helped to mellow out the tanginess. It was also good when sopped up with the above mentioned flatbread. I just wonder if the acidity of veloute was intentional.
For our second course, we had the tagliatelle and the egg. I think it’s probably hard to convince people to pay $17 (not including tax and tip) for an egg, but I cannot emphasize enough that if you go to The NoMad, you must order this dish. It’s a perfectly poached egg with asparagus, brown butter, and quinoa. Breaking the egg released the runny yolk that was rich and creamy, and mixed with the brown butter and quinoa, it was like the best breakfast cereal combination I could ever imagine. The toasted quinoa was nutty and crunchy, and the brown butter added a wonderful savoriness to the dish. I could eat bowl after bowl of this. The asparagus added a taste of spring to the dish and lightened it up a little, cutting through the richness of the yolk and butter just a bit. It was definitely one of our favorite dishes of the night.
The tagliatelle was served with king crab, meyer lemon, and black pepper. There was lots of crab meat on top that was sweet and fresh. The lemon flavor was kind of subtle – there was a brightness to the dish but I kind of wish there was a bit more punch. The pasta also needed more of a sauce to bind it together, as it was a bit dry texturally. I liked the black pepper though, which added a pop to the dish.
For our main course, we shared the suckling pig and the duck. We discussed the famous roast chicken for two before our meal, ultimately deciding against ordering it for fear that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. The reviews have been very mixed, although the consensus has been that it’s not as good as EMP’s famed lavender duck, which we’ve tried and didn’t blow us away. I didn’t want to mar our dinner by regretting spending $79 on roast chicken, even if it did come with foie gras and black truffle, two ingredients I constantly crave.
We enjoyed The NoMad’s duck, which was roasted and served with beets, pistachio, and coriander. The duck was pink, tender, and well seasoned. The beets were pickled and extremely tangy; I might have preferred them to be in their natural state, as I love the earthy sweetness of beets, but I appreciated the acidity they brought to the dish. The pistachios added a nice crunch.
The suckling pig confit was a wonderful mix of textures and tastes. The meat itself was incredibly tender, practically falling apart with a gentle twist of the fork, while the skin was crackly and crispy. The pork flavor was intense, and it was covered with mustard seeds that add little bursts of tanginess. The sweet dried plums, onions, and fresh wild greens complemented the meat very well.
We were pretty full by this point so we decided to share dessert. We had to try the famous milk and honey dessert, which is milk ice cream drizzled with honey and served on top of shortbread, brittle, and dehydrated milk flakes. The ice cream was smooth and light, not overly creamy or rich, and not too sweet. The honey had a caramelized flavor to it, as did the honey the brittle. The shortbread reminded me of graham cracker crumbles, and the milk flakes had the texture of astronaut ice cream, sticking to our tongues and melting in our mouths in an interesting manner. It was refreshing and delicious, a composed yet whimsical dessert, and a great way to finish our meal.
Overall, we were incredibly happy with our anniversary meal at The NoMad. We thought the food was pretty fantastic, although there were some individual components of dishes that we didn’t necessarily love. Our favorite dishes of the night were the fluke, the egg, and the suckling pig. Service was mostly wonderful, although there were some minor missteps, like forgetting to bring us a spoon with the veloute and serving our ice cream dessert immediately after I left the table to use the restroom. Fortunately the ice cream held up well. In general, we were pretty pleased with the attentiveness of the staff, and the sommelier was great. Josh gave him a budget to work with for our pairings, and he came in under, which we appreciated. Dinner ended up costing $360 after tax and tip. A splurge for sure, but definitely worth it for the quality and creativeness of the food. It’s also possible to spend far less in the restaurant, as we had three courses each plus a dessert, with wine pairings for three courses. Appetizers are about $15-$20 each, and entrees about $25-$35. If we had gone with two courses, dessert, and a reasonably priced bottle of wine, our bill would have been much less. The NoMad is definitely one of the best restaurants we’ve been to in a while, and I would happily go back again.
1170 Broadway at 28th St.
New York, NY