Tag Archives: chef from eleven madison park

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

 

New Restaurant Opening: Betony

8 Jun

When it comes to top restaurants, I find it very hard to judge fairly when I’m comparing a Tasting Menu to just about anything else.  For instance, our Top 10 contains 9 restaurants that were either Tasting Menus or Prix Fixe.  But seeing as though our Numero Uno of ALL TIME was Eleven Madison Park, we were excited to hear that a former chef from there (Bryce Shuman) and a former General Manager (Eamon Rockey) had started a new place that opened in Mid-May called Betony.

Betony is located on 57th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, in prime Central Park tourist territory.  The inside is a very interesting space, with plush brown fuzzy seating and walls and ceiling carved and etched.

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The menu is sparse but has plenty of items that sounded quite tasty. The left part of the menu is small single bites.

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The middle is bigger sized appetizers.

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And the right column are the entrees.

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We had a tough time choosing, and when we asked our waitress for guidance, she explained to us that at least half the menu was amazing (making it so hard to choose!)

We wound up going with the marinated trout roe, “tuna melt,” hot foie gras, roast chicken, and grilled short ribs.

We began with some well mixed twists on classic cocktails (Mike got the negroni and I got the mojito) and the table bread was breadsticks (which looked like thin spaghetti with some delicious salt on them) and cheddar chips.  Both were salty, crunchy goodness.

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Our first appetizer was the Marinated Trout Roe on a puffed rice cracker with cucumber.

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Not only was this fresh and delicious…

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… it was a work of art!

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And then we tried the “Tuna Melt” which had a thin layer of melted fontina cheese on top and was on a brioche.  This was also stunningly beautiful and WOW was it good.  Like punch you in the face good. (I’m not even sure what that means but it seems appropriate somehow).

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My only complaint about the “finger foods” is that there were 3 of each. With a party of 2, it leaves for some awkwardness when you each have one and then look at the last bite longingly.  Even though Mike and I have been together for over 5 years and we’re getting married next week (HOLY SHEIS MONKEYS! NEXT WEEK!), we still struggled making this decision. Mike was a gentleman, however, and told me to have the last bite of tuna.  I gave him a quick taste because I couldn’t be that selfish.  But honestly, I would have rather they served us just 2 or bit the bullet and served 4.  Fair is fair when it comes to delicious food.

We were then served an intermezzo “from the kitchen” which was a gooseberry compote with tomato snow.  It smelled like flowers and a summer day.  I found the compote very tasty but there was something… off… about the compote. It tasted very soapy. Like something went wrong soapy.  It was the only blemish on an otherwise spotless meal.

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We were then served bread, which was baked in-house by the pastry chef and had caraway seeds, which reminded us of a Jewish deli in all the right ways.

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Up next came the foie gras, which was just described as being “hot or cold.” Our waitress guided us to the hot one that came with crispy kale and ham hock consume (which was poured over table side).

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It also had black garlic and a few other ingredients in it (including a top chip) that are escaping me. They served this with two plates and an extra bowl of consume.

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This dish was very well composed and the kale and the foie were great together.  The consume was superb and they very smartly offered to bring more rolls to soak up the awesome leftover liquids.  The sommelier suggested a moscato which complimented the rich foie very nicely.

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We asked the sommelier to recommend a glass of wine for each of the entrees we ordered, so he suggested a round Pinot Noir and a smokey Rioja.  Both were excellent with the meal.

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Both entrees were also served with a sauce/jus at the table.  The chicken had a rich and flavorful, but simple chicken broth.

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It was cooked on the bone but served without it and came with perfectly cooked turnips and morel mushrooms.  The skin on top was crispy, but if I can be a nit picker, it could have been a tad bit crispier. But the flavor was very earthy and the texture moist.  Well executed.

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The chicken came with a side that had a grain (perhaps bulgar?) with dark meat confit and a quale egg.  This was fantastic and really nailed all the flavors. (Our waitress told us that in an effort to use every bit of the chicken, the liver dish was also created from the whole chickens they buy).

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The Grilled Short Rib came with romaine (which was charred, and beautifully so) and sweetbreads.  A beef jus was also poured over the dish at the table and this was an incredibly rich and flavorful dish, with some of the most tender meat I’ve ever tasted. A bit was served on the bone, but the slices of short rib were out of this world.

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This was a dish not to be missed.

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At this point we were basking in delicious nomming glory but we couldn’t stop there!  The desserts just sounded so interesting and were listed without much description but with simply the most forward flavor of the dish.

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We also ordered a dessert Vouvray (Vouvray is our favorite white wine)

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But out came a madeira… which was poured for us before we had a chance to interrupt and ask if this was correct. Turns out it was not, as expected, but the lovely sommelier topped us off and we got to enjoy this awesome dessert drink on the house while waiting for the Vouvray.

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We chose the blueberry dish which came with crispy poppyseed flavors, fresh (and superbly delicious) blueberries, and a tea flavored ice cream.  This was beautiful and tasty.  A very fresh, very summery dessert.

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Then we each got the selection of 3 dessert tastes:

Frozen Chocolate Stout Macarons (A very nice balance of flavors, though the macarons were bit dense)
Pink Peppercorn Caramel Chews (A curious and quite good flavor and texture combination)
Dried Cherry & Pistachio Divinity (Awesome… awesome awesome awesome.  A great combination of salty and sweet.)

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What a meal!

This was a masterpiece.  It easily rivaled many tasting menus we have had and I might have to put it right in line with Ai Fiori, our current #10 spot holder on the all-time Top 10 list.

The service was spectacular, attentive, and friendly.  It wasn’t at all stuffy and they really cared about how much we enjoyed the food.

It was obvious that the chef is thinking critically about his dishes and doesn’t put anything on the plate just for the sake of putting it there. Flavors are expertly combined and the plating is beautifully crafted. The only miss was the weird tomato snow, but some dishes I couldn’t find a single fault with. If this is how good they are just 3 weeks in, I can’t imagine how good they will be as they find their sea legs.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10 (we struggled about giving this an 8.5 or a 9, but it is definitely in line with Ai Fiori so we need to keep some consistency around this Nom joint)

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