NoMad, which officially opened on Monday of this week, is the new restaurant owned by EMP’s Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, — probably the most eagerly anticipated restaurant opening of 2012 in New York. Because of our long relationship with EMP, we were invited to preview NoMad during “Friends & Family.” As soon as we received the emailed invitation, we were on the phone and secured a reservation for the very first dinner service on Wednesday, March 25.
It was an unusually balmy evening as we made our way to the restaurant in the also new boutique NoMad Hotel, on Broadway and 28th St. About a block away, we spotted a familiar figure coming toward us. It was Chef Humm. He was on his way to check in at EMP where, incidentally, we’d had dinner the night before.
After exchanging hellos, he said he’d see us later when he’d be back at NoMad. (The two restaurants are only a few blocks from each other.)
Entering NoMad’s reception area, we were greeted with warm hugs by Kristin Millar. As a member of EMP’s reception team, she had welcomed us many times there before leaving last year to become the head receptionist at Ai Fiori when it opened. Now, we were thrilled to see her “back in the fold” at NoMad in charge of reservations and reception. After our jackets were checked, she asked if we’d prefer to tour the restaurant before or after dinner. We decided on after. She then led us into the lounge area where a smiling Will stood waiting to greet all arriving guests. He told us they had special plans for us – a tasting menu. He did request that I not take any photos. (He explained his reasons which I won’t go into here, but they made sense to me.) Actually, it was nice to just sit back and not concern myself with anything but enjoying the food — and, as always, Michael’s company.
Kristin escorted us into the dining room, seated us at a table for two along the left wall, and told us she’d be back when we were done to take us on the tour. The dining room is beautiful with a turn-of-the century feel, including elegant red draperies and pillars adorned with large white squares picturing various herbs and such. Seating is very comfortable. In fact, the chairs are the same design as those at EMP but covered in period fabric rather than EMP’s leather. And there was music. Watching a video of Daniel and Will doing a Google Q&A, I noted Daniel’s remark that there would be music. I’m loud noise-phobic, so that worried me. But I needn’t have been since the music – jazz and other styles, including a bit of (recognizable to me )rock ‘n’ roll – was kept at a reasonable level. With tables about 80% occupied, the overall noise level was pleasant.
Cailene, our server, arrived with a cheery greeting. Bright and bubbly, she took attentive care of us throughout the meal. When Michael asked about wine, she said a red and a white were available on the house; however, he could certainly do a wine pairing for which there would be a charge. He opted to do pairings, so Cailene sent over a sommelier. Danielle discussed Michael’s wine preferences (reds whenever possible), and he was very pleased with her selections. Cailene also had a surprise for me. The bar was preparing one of my favorite non-alcoholic drinks at EMP, the Orange Julius – and, she emphasized, with a straw! At EMP, the bar usually sends out the O.J. without a without a straw, so I always ask for one. Will has told me he agrees that it really needs a straw, so I was really touched that he had made sure the straw would not be forgotten. As I often tell him, he is the best!!
Though there were menus at our place settings, we only glanced at them. I didn’t take any notes as I had intended to get a copy to take home but then forgot to do so. However, Eater came to the rescue by posting the menu (it’s not on NoMad’s website yet) though there are a number of things we had that don’t appear on it. So, in those instances, I’ve been left at the mercy of my less than stellar memory.
Our tasting menu consisted of seven courses, the same number listed on the menu and will be served “family-style for two or more people.” However, while the majority of our courses were served family-style, we also had individual portions that came from the hors d’oeuvres and snack sections as well as from the a la carte.