While it wasn’t much of a stretch for shrewd chefs like David Chang to roll out fried chicken sandwiches, the EMP team letting loose is another matter entirely. Yet even Daniel Humm and Will Guidara have elected to ride the rising tide from fine dining and into the realm of fast casual, with their long floated (and finally realized) food counter, Made Nice.
While it still bears many of the hospitality hallmarks of the famously gracious group (the GM actually greets you at the door, maître d’-style), there’s no mistaking the quick service, Flatiron eatery for Eleven Madison Park. Instead of $300, eight-course prix-fixes, options hover in the $11-15 range and emerge within five minutes. Still, as the name would suggest, Made Nice is hardly a bastion of burgers and fries; focusing on fresh, wholesome, thoughtfully-sourced ingredients and emphasizing preparation and presentation — and even occasionally refiguring actual EMP dishes for the on-the-go, cash-strapped crowd.
Take the Salmon Rosti, which, instead of being accented with caviar and served under a smoke-filled dome is conceptualized as a salad; featuring sturdy frisee, shredded potato croutons, and ribbons of cured fish. Pork n’ Carrots replaces whole suckling pig with confit teamed with grains and tubers, and even the famous Milk and Honey dessert appears as a simple soft serve, drizzled with buckwheat honey and showered with honey brittle, toasted oat shortbread and milk meringue.
In lieu of fried chicken, poultry gets braised and laid over basmati and marinated tomatoes; boring grain bowls give way to Quinoa Falafel over yogurt-marinated cucumbers and pickled beets; and fishwiches are abandoned for hummus-cemented planks of Cod Provencal.
Leave it to Humm and Guidara to elegantly demonstrate that a meal that’s made cheap can also be made nice.
8 W 28th St
Photos by Evan Sung