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.
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.
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.
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.
They even light their stemware in a sexy cabinet with sexy lighting.
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.
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.
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.
We also tried the Scotch Olives with lamb’s sausage and sheep’s milk cheese.
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.
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.
Onto the entrees!
Two burgers on the table, and thank goodness. This was a fantastic burger.
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.
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.
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.
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?
The sausage itself was great. Really nice combination of flavors and a nice snap to the outside. Very enjoyable.
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.
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.
And we had to try the candy bar, which was labeled on the menu as “literally, with dark chocolate and caramel.”
Unwrapping it felt like Willy Wonka.
And it was an awesome balance of the bitter dark chocolate with the sweet, dense caramel center. A fantastic end to the meal.
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).
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