Tag Archives: artisan cocktails

New Opening: THE NoMad BAR

21 Jun

We caught the news that The NoMad had opened up a new space called The Nomad Bar, attached through a semi-hidden passageway to their current space, The Library. It seems this came as a surprise to many, as I saw nothing leading up to it prior and it just kind of appeared one day with an entrance in the middle of the block on 28th Street (look for the Nomad logo on the door).  The space has been described as “sexy,” which it undeniably is, even down to a sexy promotional video. (And lots more sexy photos from Eater)

We went in at about 5:45pm on Friday evening and were told it would be about an hour wait for a table (as expected).  We put our names in and saddled right up to the sexy bar.

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We loved the food at The NoMad restaurant, and I actually find myself there nearly once a week now for breakfast meetings since it’s right near my office (and they have the super awesome granola from Eleven Madison Park).  We are huge fans of basically anything from Daniel Humm and Will Guidara after falling in love with EMP, which is our #1 restaurant in Manhattan. And when we heard that Brian Canlis, our gracious host from our fantastic honeymoon dinner at Canlis in Seattle, was lending a helping hand, it was all the more reason to visit at the first opportunity we had.

Mike and I had arrived early and were waiting on another couple friend to join us.  As we waited, we perused the menu and noticed that there were so many delicious sounding cocktails that it was going to be hard to choose.

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They have a section for “Reserve Cocktails” (read: very expensive with very good liquors), but they did mix a less premium version on request.  They also have an entire section of “Cocktail Explosions” for $90 to serve 6-8 people. It’s even labeled as “be careful” on the menu. We saw a few come out and they were like a super sexy scorpion bowl.  Could be great for a party.

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Our friends arrived shortly thereafter and as they ordered their drinks, the hostess came up to us and informed us that there was actually a change in another party so our table would be ready shortly.  Great!

We got our drinks and were led up the stairs to the second level, which is like a U shaped balcony with tables all around, looking down on the bar.

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They even light their stemware in a sexy cabinet with sexy lighting.

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What was a little less than sexy? The fact that they serve their “Forbidden Dance” in this slightly ridiculous, slightly awesome tiki glass.  I quite proudly carried this around a few hours later (more on that soon), but it was certainly a talking point (more on that later soon, too)

I have to say though, every single drink was amazing.  Perfectly balanced, perfectly constructed.  Really stand-out. This is truly a craft cocktail bar first and foremost.

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After ordering, our table was set with this cool box of silverware.

And then Brian Canlis stopped by and we said hello and told him that we were at his restaurant almost exactly 1 year ago to the day on our honeymoon.  He was so friendly and so warm.  He seemed genuinely happy to have us there and talk to us.  Brian Canlis knows hospitality and knows how to make guests feel special.

He also asked our opinion about the giant tiki glass sitting on our table.  Our dining companion informed him that she was a bit embarrassed by it and he told us that management is discussing whether it’s awesome or awful.  I think we all agreed that it’s a little of both.

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We started with the flat bread, which came with spring onions and fingerling potatoes.  We all enjoyed this but agreed that a little dipping sauce would have been good with it, perhaps a rosemary olive oil or olive tapenade.

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We also tried the Scotch Olives with lamb’s sausage and sheep’s milk cheese.

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It was like a scotch egg but with an olive.  I really enjoyed this.  Fun flavors and combination of textures and meat with salt and fry.

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Our final appetizer was the Swiss Cheese with beer mustard, pretzel chips, and pickles.  The cheese was absolutely phenomenal. I don’t know where they are sourcing this cheese, but it was some of the best swiss I’ve ever had.  I’m not a mustard fan, however, the two boys at the table sang its praises.

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Onto the entrees!

Two burgers on the table, and thank goodness.  This was a fantastic burger.

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The meat was cooked perfectly and the brioche bun was hearty without distracting from the main meat event. It was listed as dry aged with cheddar, red onions, and pickles.  So simple, yet so good.  One of my favorite burgers I’ve ever had.

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We got fries for the table and these were fan-freakin-tastic fries.  They were crispy and had lovely herbs on them (rosemary and parsley).  I gobbled up every little piece.

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We also tried the pork schnitzel on foccacia with tomato and pickles.  Of all the entrees, this was probably our least favorite. It was good but it didn’t sing with flavor like the other dishes.  It got a bit too muddled.

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I got the duck sausage with pickled ramps and cherries.  I was a bit concerned that this was the same mustard as the cheese, but it was more of an aioli, I think?

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The sausage itself was great.  Really nice combination of flavors and a nice snap to the outside.  Very enjoyable.

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With The NoMad restaurant serving one of my favorite desserts of all time (Milk and Honey), we were glad to have room for dessert.

We started with the Cookies & Cream, which was yummy vanilla ice cream rolled in cookie crumbs.  I loved that you could eat these with your hands and the texture was just right.  Delicious nibble.

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The banana pudding with rum & brioche was not how we expected it to look, but I really enjoyed this dessert.  I also enjoy how this picture wound up looking like that famous photo of Queen from Bohemian Rap City.

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And we had to try the candy bar, which was labeled on the menu as “literally, with dark chocolate and caramel.”

Literally indeed.

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Unwrapping it felt like Willy Wonka.

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And it was an awesome balance of the bitter dark chocolate with the sweet, dense caramel center.  A fantastic end to the meal.

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We had a few drinks throughout the evening, and all were great.  We decided we would end our night in The Library Bar for a night cap.

On our way down the stairs, we ran into Brian Canlis again.  We told him that we really enjoyed our meal and he asked us if we had ever been to the roof.  Why no… we had not.  He told us to hold tight and we told him we were going to head to The Library Bar.  That is when he informed us that the deal was that The Library Bar was now for hotel guests only. Apparently, the bar had become so popular that guests could never get in, so The NoMad Bar was opened up for the public now, in trade for The Library Bar being exclusive (in the late evenings anyway).  Interesting! So we grabbed our drinks at the sexy bar and waited for Brian.

We ordered a few things, including a repeat of a drink I had and enjoyed earlier in the evening, which was “The Shaman” (Pisco Acholado, Salers, Pineapple, Lemon, Cinnamon, and Angostura Bitters). Unfortunately (or maybe fortuitously) the bar tender heard incorrectly and thought I ordered “The Forbidden Dance.” And that is how I accidentally wound up carrying a huge Tiki Cup through The NoMad dining room, up the elevator, and to the roof with Brian Canlis.

But that’s okay… we named him Ted. (and he was delicious… and the bar tender took it off the bill… which was very, very nice of him).

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The roof of The NoMad was beautiful.  There is a special room up there in a circular turret-like construction where you can have a private meal, and I think all of our ears perked up at the thought of having a special meal up there.  They used to do a tasting menu up there, but with the weather and the financial opportunity of private parties, it is now a permanently tented space that is truly stunning with indoor and outdoor areas and a view of the Empire State Building and a world of beautiful buildings you would never know existed from the ground.  (If you have a lot of money, and a small guest list, this would be a dream wedding venue).

Overall, I really enjoyed our time at The NoMad Bar.  It is a well executed “more casual” version of The NoMad restaurant.  All the food was very good, if not great, and the cocktails were some of the best I’ve ever had.  We drank quite a few over the course of the night, so our tab was a bit hard to see, but for the caliber, it didn’t feel too nuts for NYC.  It is definitely as sexy as it has been billed, and if you are looking to impress a date, this is the place to go.  Looking forward to going back.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

 

Alder: The new restaurant from WD-50’s Wylie Dufresne

5 Apr

Mike and I are huge fans of the restaurant WD-50 and really appreciate the amazing ingenuity of chef Wylie Dufresne. We have done the incredible tasting menu at WD-50 twice now, and it currently ranks as the #2 restaurant of all time on our list.  So when Chef Wylie announced he was opening up a more casual (and more attainable) restaurant, Alder, we got excited. It was supposed to open earlier in March, and we made early plans to try to attend opening night, but a few delays had it opening the one weekend we were out of town (in Maine for pre-wedding errands). So we went today, a week and a day after opening night.

We heard there were long waits and long lines to get in, and no reservations. They are open Wednesday-Sunday starting at 6pm. While I am not a fan of lines, nor waiting, I got there around 5:30 and was already 4th on line.  Within the next 20 minutes, the line was a few dozen long.

At 6pm, the doors flung open and in we went.

Unfortunately, Mike’s cab was stuck in traffic so while I was in early enough, they kindly informed me that they don’t sit incomplete tables (which I totally understand, especially with that line!) but that I could wait at the bar. I explored the cocktail list and quickly decided on the Dr. Dave’s ‘Scrip Pad, especially because of the smoked maple.

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I really liked the uplight on the white wall throughout the restaurant, and it made an especially lovely ambiance at the bar with glass shelves.

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They served some of New York City’s finest tap water (FYI: NYC has some of the best water in the country. True story.)

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My drink had a rich, balanced flavor with just a hint of smoke. Very nice.

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Mike wasn’t too far behind, but by that time the wait was 30 minutes. There we tables, but they didn’t want to overwhelm the kitchen, so they were staggering the tables. We were more than happy to have a cocktail and relax a bit before our meal. So Mike got himself an Applethy that had vodka,‌ horseradish, and green apple. I hate both vodka and horseradish and I tasted this and instantly felt some burn… but then suddenly I got it. The sweet and the spicy. It was all somehow right. And what a beautiful cocktail.

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We sat just as we finished our cocktails. The inside is small but somehow not packed. And it wasn’t at all noisy. The ceiling is made of some nice, rustic wood beams.

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The waiter recommended 3 dishes per person, and informed us that the dishes go from lighter to heavier as you go down the menu.  I also told them about my allergy to peppers, and our waiter helped us go through the menu and find things I could order. He asked Mike if he would like to try the homemade cauliflower/peppers mix that they put on the table. Mike opted to try it and said it was quite good. (I was impressed that they asked our preference!)

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It was time for our second round of cocktails:

Zereshk Is History: gin, zereshk berry, grape-must, tonic
A nice balance of sweet with an adorable white birch straw
Shamrock Amigo: Irish whiskey, Mexican Fernet, Guinness Head
Creamy and really tasty

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We started with the Fried Cauliflower with lemon-almond puree, lardo, and cocoa. This was really, really good. I always enjoy cauliflower, but this was different and really well paired. The additions didn’t take away from the cauliflower and it had so many layers of flavor.

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We also tried the pub cheese (which seems to be getting a lot of press due to its purple hue) which had pistachio-fig brittle and Martin’s “potato chips.”

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The cheese was nice (though we both agreed it was reminiscent of Laughing Cow cheese… which is never a bad thing) but it was out of this world when paired with the pistachio-fig brittle. A little bit of salty, a little bit of sweet.

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We then tried the soft poached egg with sherry‌ consommé, mushroom, celery, and tarragon oil. This was the most disappointing point of the meal, unfortunately. I love eggs, and we have been impressed by the egg dishes at WD-50 in the past, but this was just lackluster.

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The egg was perfectly cooked though.

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Then again, perhaps we didn’t enjoy the egg so much because it was on the table at the same time as the masterpiece that was the Chicken Liver Toast (with cornbread,‌ grapefruit marmalade, and chicken skin). Holy whackamoley. This was insanely good. One of the best dishes I’ve ever had.  The grapefruit marmalade on the bottom was with shallots, and the sweet with citrus with corn bread with delicious liver with the crispy chicken skin. Wow. Just WOW.

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As we moved to our last two dishes, we tried the pork rib with saffron spaetzle, and green apple-celery root hash. The dish wasn’t what we were expecting. When I hear pork rib, I think a big slab o’ pig. This was more like a risotto of spaetzle with pieces of pork (which tasted like really good chunks of ham).  It was tasty.

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Our final dish was the Rye Pasta with shaved pastrami. This was like a pastrami and rye deli sandwich but made as a pasta. It was a really nice version of a classic dish we love, with great flavor and a classic mixture of ingredients.

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We decided to go for dessert and I immediately decided on the Banoffee Tart which was listed with carmelized‌ milk, sour cream,  and banana nougatine.  For me, this was a no-brainer. There were two other desserts, and one had peppers in it and the other was root beer (I hate root beer).  This dessert was certainly a great combo of banana and toffee flavors. It also had a sliver of dark chocolate in it. The crust was a bit hard to cut through, but besides that, a very nice dessert.

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But Mike ordered the Root Beer Pudding (which came with crunchy macadamia nuts on top). I instantly wrinkled my nose and my inner child said words like “ewww” and “yuck.”

Boy did I eat my words. This was a sensational dessert. Great creamy flavor with just a touch of root beer flavor (but not too root beer-y). The crispy, sweet, salty macadamia nuts on top were a fantastic flavor and texture contrast to the pudding. I was so impressed and so surprised by how much I enjoyed this dessert.

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And not to be without a little extra quirk, our check came out in a cut mini mug that reminded me of drinking hot cocoa while camping.

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At the end of our meal, Chef Wylie Dufresne was actually standing right behind us. He had popped in a few times during the meal and looked out at the house like he was kindly tending his flock. As we stood to leave, he immediately wished us well and said that he hoped we enjoyed our meal. We had a lovely exchange about with him about how much we loved that chicken liver and how we’re big fans of WD-50. He was humble and very appreciative of our compliments. I was kind of tickled (okay… full disclosure… totally excited) that we got to chat for a bit with Chef Wylie Dufresne!

While our meal at Alder was certainly a bit more reasonable than WD-50 (since that tasting menu is $225 each, so truly a special occasion type place). We got out of there spending about that amount but for both of us (including 2 rounds of good cocktails, 6 dishes, and 2 desserts). It’s not exactly a cheap meal, but it certainly is more casual and more within reach as compared to WD-50.

The food was really great, with that chicken liver being the stand-out. I would also have the cauliflower and rye pasta again in a heart beat, as well as that root beer dessert. I wouldn’t rush back to try the pork nor cheese dish a second time, and I certainly wouldn’t bother with the egg dish if I went back (when I go back!) But I would go back over and over and over and over for that liver. Mmmmm.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

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