Some restaurants just ride the buzz of their openings, becoming the hot restaurant by nature of being brand new. The mediocre and less than mediocre spots quickly peter out and fall off people’s radars while others settle into their groove. But few stay as hot as when they first opened. The NoMad is one of those delicious exceptions that’s managed to be as relevant and hard to get into now as it was when it opened just less than a year ago. It’s an undeniably sexy space with a series of rooms and scenes, including the bar with its stellar cocktails, the library for light bites and several dining rooms to sample a taste of Daniel Humm’s much celebrated Roast Chicken with Foie Gras Stuffing, or the equally as famous Milk & Honey dessert.
I’m a sucker for a good bread basket, so I was all for the warm, thin loaf of potato & onion bread and soft butter they greet you with as you ponder the menu. There’s a fine wine list and one of the best cocktail lists in New York City, so I suggest starting the meal with a tequila-based Fig & Thistle or a rum-based Hair Trigger. Restaurants often slack off after a few months, generally after reviews, but not The NoMad. It seems to be getting better everyday. The Tagliatelle, mingled with King Crab and enlivened with lemon and pepper, is still a signature on the menu and one worth getting, but there are some exciting newcomers, like Roasted Heirloom Cauliflower with an ingenious mix of Grapes, White Cheddar and Marcona Almonds — a crunchy, earthy, sweet and salty amalgam that’s surprisingly satisfying for an appetizer with no real protein to speak of. I also dug the Poached Prawns with a Sunchoke Puree, Apples and Hazelnuts.
But my favorite dish was the Fruits De Mer Plateau. I’m a raw bar girl and I love a good tiered seafood platter, but the one at The NoMad makes all other seafood platters seem, well, ordinary. Take, for instance, the luscious Sea Urchin Panna Cotta with Apple Gelee and a teeny dicing of fresh apples and caviar on top. Each nibble is thoughtfully prepared, even the Oysters, which come, in most restaurants, with a side of mignonette and cocktail sauce. The NoMad’s come with a sprinkling of Frozen Mignonette, amping up the freshness of each mollusk. The King Crab is topped with avocado mousse and served in its shell, the delicate Scallop Ceviche with Yuzu, Jalapeno, and a crunch of Pistachios, Oysters with a frozen mignonette, and Lobster with a lemon and chili aioli.
Then came the $78 Roast Chicken, which happens to be worth every penny. It’s presented in all its shiny, crispy skinned glory to the table with a few fresh twigs of rosemary sticking out of it, then sliced behind kitchen doors and returned in two parts. The first is a moist, snowy white Breast with a Foie Gras Stuffing that’s to die for. How could it not be when it’s composed of Black Truffles, Brioche and Foie Gras? It’s served over a crazy creamy, truffle-laced puddle of Mashed Potatoes. Then, there’s the dark meat, which is just as moist as the white and served with morels. Humm is a master of novel flavor combinations that seem to revive any dish. Take, for instance, the Duck, roasted and lifted by huckleberry, turnips and a zesty dose of lime.
As for dessert, the Milk & Honey is not only interesting, it’s oddly nostalgic of Honey Nut Cheerios with milk. And there’s plenty more, too. Humm and his partner Will Guidara have taken haute to a hip level at The NoMad and New York is better for it.