No Love For NoMad

I’d been wanting to try the pricey Eleven Madison Park spinoff, NoMad, for awhile.  The lunch menu here, unlike many other places, doesn’t offer a prix fixe option.  It’s basically the same as dinner, with a few, potentially notable exceptions.  So with a summer associate lunch expense account (the cause of my own exposure to and love for fancy meals), it seemed liked the perfect excuse to splurge.

Walking into the main room inside the dark hotel, your eyes will need a moment to adjust to the light, even on an overcast day.  The glass ceiling creates a feeling of intimacy, yet openness.

Satan’s Circus

At the outset, service was a little pushy and disconnected.  There’s a huge disorganized drink menu to choose from, plus the wine list.  You may need a few minutes to decide, like I did.  After being asked three times if I was ready (unnecessary rushing when tables are not full), I settled on a Satan’s Circus (rye with chili-infused aperol).  A unique drink and tasty.

While perusing the food options, we were brought delicious, warm zucchini bread  (actually one of my favorite parts of the dining experience).  Feeling as if many of the starters were tiresome, we decided to order the broccoli entree and the large portion of the crab pasta to share among four as appetizers.

Burnt broccoli

The slightly charred (overcooked) broccoli with crisp bacon and gooey cheddar was a novel concept, but ridiculously small for the price ($20), especially as an entree.  If you could find a perfect bite of all the ingredients, it worked well together.

Although I also thought the entree portion of crab tagliatelle with Meyer lemon was tiny for $28, at least this dish was delicious.  The lemon flavor really came through, the fresh pasta was light, and it was loaded with crab.  (Interestingly, this no longer appears to be offered as an entree size and is listed at $19 for a starter.)

For our main courses, we shared the roasted chicken for two and the beef.  The chicken is all about the tableside presentation.  It then returns to the kitchen, to be cut and divided.  The somewhat dry breast was cut into two pieces and served on individual plates.

The layer of breading under the crisp skin was lacking in flavor, and the foie gras sauce was underwhelming and could have come from one of those pots of pate you’ll find at the market.  The truffle flavor was almost absent.  The side dish of the rich, dark meat with mushrooms and corn was more palate pleasing.

Dark Meat in Cast Iron

The kitchen could have done a little more work in plating so that the sweet, dark meat was not forgotten in the middle of the table over the large, boring breast.  I’m still not sure what happened to the wings… Sadly, I have yet to be wowed by chicken out.  It is a cheap piece of meat, and this preparation didn’t warrant the outrageous price ($79!).  I am hard-pressed to say that I would order the dish again and am a little surprised that it received such rave reviews.

The filet of beef was tastier, but the bone marrow crust was greasy and thick, taking away from the flavor of the meat itself.  The preparation of the crisp, frizzled leeks, however, was as tasty as it was entertaining.

Get the beef for the leeks, not the bone marrow

In old school form, there was a dessert cart offering a raspberry tart, lemon tart, chocolate ganache and a pastry with berries.  The presentation of the lemon tart was lacking but the flavors were wonderful — not too tart or too sweet.  But it was the simple croissant-like pastry that won us over with a sugary crust.  For all the fuss and expense, there was no amuse bouche or petit four of some sort after the meal.

The dinner menu offers the popular seafood tower as a starter and the “milk and honey” dessert, two items I’m told are worth a trip back.  I’ll take my friend’s word for it for now.  Unless someone else is paying, there will be no more NoMad for me.

Rating: One Fork  (2 for the food, minus 1 for price and odd service)
Four Forks Rating System

No Forks:       Don’t waste your time.
One Fork:       Ok, but nothing to write home about.
Two Forks:     Solid forkful. Worth the money.
Three Forks:   A meal you’ll remember in a good way.  Fork-tastic.
Four Forks:    Out of this world. Won’t be able to put your fork down.

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