With only one dish above $20 and no reservations, the new NoMad Bar is meant to be the most accessible of the group of dining establishments operated by the Made Nice Hospitality Group, which include the 3 Michelin Star Eleven Madison Park and the 1 Michelin Star NoMad hotel restaurant.
The stunning bi-level space consists of a gorgeous back-lit bar on the ground floor and a comfortable dining room upstairs. It's pretty amazing how disparate the two are, as the volume from the mostly standing room bar doesn't seem to make much of an impact on the separate dining room. In a way, it reinforces my view that the NoMad Bar is a hybrid that is hard to classify as just a cocktail bar or just a gastropub.
large format meals, the NoMad bar has large format cocktails. But the NoMad bar is also a gastropub in the sense that there is also a strong focus on beer, and the food is still overseen by and rooted in the foundation of the NoMad hotel restaurant. In fact, some of the dishes come straight off the original restaurant's menu.
While people tend to associate gastropub fare with refined traditional pub food, that does not appear the case here. There is a burger, but there are no fancy versions of mac n' cheese, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, wings, or other bar favorites. Instead, I think the aim of the menu is to provide dishes that one would enjoy with either beer, wine, or cocktails, and that can be ordered a la carte and shared. While still elegant, the food is meant to be simple and comforting.
Food critics have so far been mixed on the NoMad bar, and while some dishes did in fact stand out more than others, I found my experiences to be consistently good. In fact, with multiple visits covering over two-thirds of the menu, this may be one of the most thorough reviews of the NoMad bar you'll come across. However, with Labor Day just around the corner, it wouldn't surprise me to see some of the dishes reviewed here changing with the season.
Available on both the bar menu and the original restaurant's menu, this is good for those who are specifically trying to eat some raw vegetables, but I wouldn't go out of my way to order it.
I wouldn't have thought to order this just looking at the menu, but this was absolutely delicious. The broccoli rabe didn't have an overpowering bitterness, and the classic anchovy and parmesan combo packed a nice clean umami punch.
This was originally one of my favorite pieces from the original restaurant's fruits de mer platter (right behind the hamachi with horseradish), so it was nice being able to order just the scallops a la carte. It's simple, bright, and sweet, with a nice nuttiness and crunch from the pistachio.
These were more like small empanadas than beignets, and did not really stand out in any way. At these prices, just that alone was enough to elicit disappointment, but expecting hot fried goodness made it much, much worse.
These have proven to be so popular that they made their way onto the NoMad hotel's main restaurant menu despite starting out on the new bar menu. I found these to be remarkable in that the salinity hit me immediately upon the first bite, but the savoriness continued without any lingering feelings of saltiness. It was hard to reconcile the overwhelming savoriness with the lack of moisture-draining mouth feel that usually accompanies salty foods. Those sensitive to salt, however, would probably still consider this dish to be too salty.
I did not taste this as my friend ordered it, but I imagine that it's the same as the original NoMad restaurant's egg dish (which was delicious) minus the egg.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, given that it was essentially a hunk of cheese, after all. Everything went so well together, from the nutty, flavorful cheese, to the slight kick of the mustard sauce, to the excellent pickles, that I just wanted to keep eating it. The only thing missing was that there weren't enough pretzel chips, but my guess is that more would have been provided if I'd asked.
This may have been inspired by the carrot tartare at Eleven Madison Park, but the flavors were more reminiscent of a traditional tartare. The use of small strips of raw carrot gave it a nice sweetness and a texture which went well with the rye crisps.
BAKED; BREADCRUMBS, BACON, AND GARLIC ($16)
IN BROTH; CORN, BACON, AND TOMATO ($19)
Clams are offered on the menu in three different preparations. The baked version is tasty, simple, and rather traditional. But the dish that stood out to me was the clams in broth. Brushing aside the pieces of toast placed on top revealed a treasure trove of clams in a tasty broth that reminded me of the stunning tomato and corn broth I had in an earlier version of Eleven Madison Park's clambake dish. This delicious essence of summer in a bowl is also one of the best values on the menu.
SKIRT STEAK; PARSLEY AND LIME ($17)
STRIPED BASS; A LA PLANCHA WITH FENNEL AND ORANGE ($19)
Both sets of skewers are served on more pieces of toast, and work well in sandwich form if you wanted to use your hands. The skirt steak was cooked nicely and featured a good but not particularly noteworthy chimichurri sauce. The striped bass, on the other hand, was on another level. The fish had real flavor, unlike the bland pieces of protein that merely serve as vessels for sauce often found elsewhere. Some might consider that flavor to lean a bit onto the "fishy" or "muddy" side, but I loved it. The fennel and orange also worked well with the fish, providing a great balance of texture and flavor and making for a great bite.
The flavors were fresh, clean, and tasty. However, there just wasn't enough shrimp to justify the price.
This is essentially the same hot dog as the Humm dog served at PDT, but with real truffles. It's delicious, but the value proposition here solely depends on how much you like truffles and how much truffle you happen to get. Both times I've had it the truffle smell was evident as soon as it hit the table.
This was probably the most composed dish that I had at the NoMad bar. The coarsely ground, meaty duck sausage might have been too salty by itself, but the balance of sweet and tart from the pickles and cherries worked well with it.
BURGER; DRY-AGED WITH CHEDDAR, RED ONIONS, AND PICKLES ($18)
A juicy, sizeable, 6-ounce burger cooked beautifully and full of aged beef flavor. I've ordered it every time I've been at the NoMad bar, and it's just as satisfying every time. Large enough to share, I consider the burger one of the best values on the menu. Also of note is that every group of people I've brought to the NoMad bar has remarked on not just how good the burger was, but also how much they liked the accompanying pickle.
CHICKEN POT PIE; BLACK TRUFFLE AND FOIE GRAS ($36)
The pot pie arrived at the table accompanied by a skewer of foie gras and a quenelle of truffle mousse/butter. The server then broke open the pot pie, mixed in the foie and truffle, and the smell was heavenly. Inside the pot pie were pieces of chicken, aromatic vegetables, potatoes, and morels. The puff pastry was buttery and flaky, and was terrific dipped into the absolutely delicious stew. It was very rich and luscious, but still evoked the comfort of a more traditional chicken pot pie. At $36, this is the most expensive item on the food menu, but still a great value in my mind when you consider the ingredients. Foie and truffle aside, morels are not cheap!
COOKIES AND CREAM; ICE CREAM WITH CHOCOLATE CRUNCH ($12)
CHEESECAKE; STRAWBERRY AND SHORTBREAD ($12)
BANANA; PUDDING WITH RUM AND BRIOCHE ($11)
CANDY BAR; LITERALLY, WITH DARK CHOCOLATE AND CARAMEL ($14)
The desserts as a whole were simple and tasty, and I liked the whimsical (and portable) idea of the candy bar. But for a few dollars more, I'd much rather have the desserts next door at the original NoMad restaurant, which I find much more complex and satisfying.
For two weeks a while back they offered their version of Seattle's famous Canlis salad. It was a nice salad, but I didn't quite get the hype as the only thing that really ended up standing out was the mint.
You know, if you order both the burger and the hot dog from the menu, all the ingredients are there to make your own upgraded Shake Shack 10th Anniversary Humm Burger!
Overall, the new NoMad bar is a great addition and complements the group's other two restaurants. I believe they've achieved their goal of accessibility as I've brought more friends to the new NoMad bar in the past month than I had brought to EMP and the NoMad hotel restaurant combined in the last two years. While there's little room for error at these prices, I feel that as an overall food and drink experience the NoMad bar trumps many other bars/restaurants/lounges in the city at comparable prices. Obviously, I highly recommend the place, but even I haven't been back alone by myself. I think this is one of those places where the more people you have and the more drinking they do the more fun it is. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why it wasn't so well received by some of the critics.
10 W28th Street (entrance on 28th, no name, just a symbol on the door)
Manhattan, New York