With Eleven Madison Park's chef duo at the helm, more velvet-topped surfaces than Dita Von Teese's apartment and what must be a stock of black truffles worth twice your kidney's value on the black market, The NoMad Hotel and its now-famous restaurant are classy as fuck, no joke. But, the most interesting part about stepping through their unassuming doors is that it's truly like stepping into a different world. It almost feels like Sleep No More, just without the masks, acting and possibility of seeing some wangs. (Oh — and way more expensive.)
Maybe it was the plush seating, the jarringly high ceilings, or the fact that it's the darkest, most cavernous spot you've been to in forever — either way, our brains kind of fell into our asses and we couldn't function normally while gliding through the room-after-room layout before chowing down. It wasn't so much a case of The Poors as it was pure decadence overload: we treated coat check like it was a phenomenon where in strangers trade you a piece of paper for your outwear. We waited at the bar as though it was a holding pen wherein we stand with clasped hands and talk about nothing while looking everywhere. We looked at our menus like we'd never been anywhere that a Grand Slam wasn't offered. It just rocked us with its gilded nature to the point that we got flustered every step of the way.
So, to save you from looking like as much of an ass as I did and further live up to my mensch capabilities, I've drawn up a map of The NoMad's easily overwhelming interiors. Basically, it's a gigantic fucking life size game of Clue in which they feed you chicken that tastes like heaven and then kick your now-poor drunk ass to the curb:
There's a variety of different spaces, all more — and I don't use this word lightly — exquisite than the next. The Library is dope as fuck and is for smaller bites and big drinking bills, The Parlour is lush and velvet with frames covering the walls, similar to an upscale Sardi's, and The Atrium is like an open terrance in the center of a European hotel, with about ten thousand times more foot traffic.
The four of us ate in the Parlour, where everyone around us spent miniature versions of my life savings and we, somehow, kept the bill to a hundred smacks a person. They'll try to upsell you so hard that it'll feel like a cruise where all your $20 bills are quickly flying out the ship window, but play by these five simple board game-style rules and you're good to go:
1. Start Whenever You Can, At Whatever Time. Reservations here are a clusterfuck. Good part is? They actually take reservations, unlike the majority of must-try-now New York joints. Most available tables are incredibly late at night. Doesn't matter. We ate dinner at 10pm on a Monday and it was worth it.
2. Just Say No to the Fruit De Mere, Vegetable Entree, Or Any Other Dish They're Pushing On You. When I went, there was a $98 truffle-dusted risotto on the menu. That's more than my entire monthly phone bill. If there was one time to look cheap, fuck it, let it be now. When it comes to the add-ons, you don't need 'em, it'll put your check up into an unacceptable echelon and most humans won't be starving afterwards. (I force-fed myself a full, four-person order of chocolate chip cookies after. But, that's just me.)
For two people, order one appetizer, the chicken and dessert, or two appetizers and no sweets.
For four people, order three appetizers, the chicken, a second entree and one dessert.
If you have tummy rumbles and you have to get a 2-pack of Nutter Butters afterwards, so be it. Your wallet will thank you.
3. Congrats! You Deserve A Drink. You saved gobs of money by avoiding the "We suggest you order a vegetable entree as a side as well" sandtrap and "Are you sure you don't want another appetizer?" mudslide, so treat yourself with a liquor-filled dranky drank. Don't cut corners on the booze front, especially since they have a fucking cocktail novel instead of a list. Every single one will be good — did you see how dapper that bar is?! — but I suggest The Matchlock, drink that our waiter told us was their version of a zombie. Translation? 6oz of booze, strong as shit, tasty as fuck. Justifies the $15 price tag, too. Make sure your date is strong enough to sling you over their shoulder and stuff you into a taxi so you can make it home, albeit sloppily.
4. Pass Go, Collect $200, Order The Chicken. Let me repeat: ORDER THE FUCKING CHICKEN. The Bone Marrow is fantastic, everyone loved the Tagliatelle, the Foie Gras was a mouth party and the Suckling Pig was phenomenal, but it all pales in comparison to that crispy poultry, that majestic creature that left us disappointed to find out the "savory kitchen had closed" and we couldn't order a second one for dessert because WE WERE LEGITIMATELY CONSIDERING ORDERING A SECOND FOR DESSERT.
In case those photos of this foie gras, black truffle and brioche-stuffed bird with rosemary and flowers jetting out of it like the world's first edible vase haven't injected themselves into your dreams, let me explain why it's clutch. It doesn't live up to the hype, simply because this should be so much more hyped than it already has been. Everything you've read, heard and seen about it is completely true. Food critics should have just throw in the towel, passed a year's worth of stars the way of The NoMad's EMP chefs, and called it a career. This will be one of, if not the best thing you eat all year.
5. Play Your "Get Out Of Work Free" Card. Call in sick the next day. If you have one of those Matchlocks and against everyone's better judgement, throw down a bevvy called Satan's Circus as well, you'll be fully out of commission 'til about 5:45pm anyway. While you're there, don't tweet, don't Instagram, don't even turn on your phone — call your employers in the morning, say you were up vomiting all night and need to take today off. You'll sound so terrible, they won't know the difference.
The NoMad overload your senses, leaving you disoriented and unable to eat grilled chicken breasts for a full week or five, but with a heads up on the layout (the bathroom is, like, a mile away so go the second after you finish a course) and that don't-go-broke guidebook, you really only have to worry about tripping on your heels once you're two drinks deep and full of foie gras. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
Here is the website
Here is the menu
Here is where you can make a reservation
Here is what The New York Times and New York Magazine had to say
Here are, like, a thousand Eater posts about it
Here is where all these photos came from
Here is a step-by-step guide on how they make their mind-boggling chicken. (Must-read.)