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Apr 4, 2012 09:17 AM

Early Chicken Inconsistencies at The NoMad

To start, I am definitely not knocking the restaurant. One inconsistent course does not make a bad meal, and I fully recognize the restaurant JUST opened and has to get in the groove before being meaningfully evaluated. On the whole, we had a wonderful time and plan to return frequently, and will do so excitedly.

My question is if anyone had a non-stellar experience with their chicken? I tried it at dinner opening weekend and was sorely disappointed. Before I state why, just want to throw out there that EMP is our favorite celebration restaurant, and believe I'm being objective. The intent of this report is to see if our Chicken order was bad luck and if the dish is worth ordering in the future. I assume and hope it was an anomaly.

In short, our chicken was overcooked and inconsistently seasoned. The breast serving that my companion got had skin burnt beyond edible (see poor smartphone picture). Mine was a shy dark, but edible for me. Regardless, we found the meat itself to be on the under-seasoned side, and we have lower salt thresholds. Our favorite part of the white meat preparation was the brioche under the skin, and neither of us picked up truffle nor foie on the actual chicken meat (though the truffled potatoes were standout!). The meat was also bordering on dry. Overall this tasted like average roasted chicken breast, which is not devoid of flavor and I sometimes enjoy, but is not really $39 pp territory.

The dark meat we found to be over salted, and also curiously tough. I wonder whether the dark meat in this side dish is from the actual bird they present you, or whether this preparation uses today's roasted dark meat for tomorrow's cooked and served preparation. The salinity of the dark meat was so much greater than the white meat, that my conclusion is the kitchen must have considered one to be incorrect. In this case, I'm guessing the dark meat is how they want it since that presentation style can be tested, whereas a chicken breast served whole would be hard to taste test. If that's true, we prefer the white meat's seasoning.

Some may wonder why we didn't send the chicken back. Simply put, we tend not to do that unless the entire dish is inedible, which this was not (we ate most of it). Just because something I order isn't what I hoped for doesn't mean the kitchen owes me anything or I get a mulligan on my order and money. To me, the only point where I could've considered asking the kitchen for a correction was on presentation of the bird, before serving. At that point though, I didn't think of it, and I tend to defer to a kitchen's judgement. More so than the actual taste of the chicken, this is where I am most disappointed: that the kitchen would actually serve that particular chicken, given that the skin was visually black.

Although there are countless raves about the Chicken and I do think it has amazing potential, I would be hesitant to order this dish again anytime soon, given our experience and the price of it.

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  1. The chicken you got seems to be exactly the way it's always been presented, right from its earlier days on Humm's EMP menu. Could be just a personal preference issue?

    I like the blackened skin as it is crisp, and never once felt it tasted burnt or of carbon (was it just the visual that threw you off or did it actually taste bitter?)

    Yes, there is no particular flavoring to the meat. Most of the flavor comes from a layer of crushed brioche, foie, and truffle mixture put in under the skin. It doesn't necessarily permeate into the chicken meat and I never took a bite of just white meat without skin/stuffing.

    I've also never found the white meat to be dry, and actually consider it very moist given the thickness of the cut. But it's not exactly the most familiar chicken texture. There's something a little different about it.

    I think the dark meat gets the most varied reviews, and I personally think it's ok. I do think the NoMad version has a heavier sauce than the old EMP version.

    25 Replies
    1. re: fooder

      The chicken does appear a bit overdone to me, and I wouldn't have been happy with it either. I had the EMP chicken only once (pre-grid days), and I don't recall the skin being that well-cooked. If this is how NoMad is now serving the chicken, I think I'll select something else from the menu when I have dinner there in two weeks. Definitely would appreciate whether the chicken served to others looks like the photo from justtryit.

        1. re: RGR

          Thanks RGR for the photos. Based on your photo of the NoMad chicken, It looks perfectly beautiful, and I would definitely order it. Does NoMad present the whole chicken at the table before they slice it (a la EMP)?

          1. re: ellenost

            It was presented whole at the table but then taken away for plating (unike at EMP where it was carved at the table). The breast meat came back sided with white asparagus.


            The dark meat fricassee was served in a small iron pot. Plenty for us to share.



            1. re: RGR

              Question, what happened to the rest of the chicken? They don't serve it to you or let you take it home? It just seems fairly obvious there should have been a lot of meat left on the chicken carcass because what ended up on the plates/in the iron pot couldn't possibly have been all the meat there was.

              1. re: Cheeryvisage

                Each person gets one half of the large-sized whole breast, and the portion of the cut up dark meat is quite substantial. What do you think is left?


                1. re: RGR

                  From the photos, it looked like the breast meat each person received was small. Maybe the plate was gigantic, so that consequently, the meat portion looked small. lol

                2. re: Cheeryvisage

                  I've actually asked for the duck legs and carcass to be wrapped up to take home when I had the duck at EMP. They glady did it and I had 2 more meals of duck the next week. So they definitely do not use the whole duck or chicken for that matter. Not sure what they do with it if you do not ask for the leftovers like I did. I guess it couldn't hurt to ask. Good or bad I have actually become quite "famous" for the request. On subsequent visits to EMP they always remind me about that day and refer to me as "the guy who asked for the duck legs" lol. Not in a condescending way but always in EMP's playful style.

                  I've never had the chicken for two at EMP, mainly because their other options were more appealing and I find chicken to be boring when dining out. However after trying the suckling pig, decadent duck, beef with bone marrow at EMP (all on NoMad's menu), I definitely want to try the chicken at NoMad. Struggling between getting the lobster and the chicken for my main course.

                  1. re: steakrules85

                    steakrules, You're wrong about the chicken. The dark meat is used in the fricassee that's served in a small bowl on the side.

                    Photo of Dark Meat Chicken Fricassee at NoMad:


                    1. re: RGR

                      Perhaps I am wrong but I'm still in doubt. Call me skeptical but I highly doubt they are using the dark meat from the actual chicken that they present before taking back to the kitchen to plate. I think the dark meat in the fricasse is certainly prepared separately ahead of time. There is just not enough meat in that small bowl to say they are using all of the legs and thigh meat from that chicken (judging from the pics and seeing nearby diners' food yesterday). And they are certainly not cleaning the carcass clean down to the bones.

                      I am sure the kitchen is using whatever is leftover in other wars- stocks, soups, etc. My suggestion to the diner would be to ask for the leftovers to be wrapped up if you truly want the whole bird. Nothing wrong with that since you are paying for it.

                    2. re: steakrules85

                      You should also consider the duck; it was delicious!

                      1. re: ellenost

                        My lunch yesterday was spectacular.

                        The duck is one of my favorites from EMP and I have had it a few times. As good as it is, I wanted to try something different so I went with the lobster. It was incredibly delicious and perfectly cooked. One of the better lobster preps I've had in recent memory and definitely a very nice size. Some places will put lobster on the menu, charge $40 and be skimpy. Not the case at the Nomad at all. They are giving you a whole split lobster that is roasted in the oven with some fennel and carrots and they stuffed a little tarragon butter in the shell so it soaks it in as it roasts. Two nice sized tails in the shell, and two large claws removed from the shell. They top it off with some crispy potaoto chips and serve it in its own cast iron staub pan, which I love. The best part was towards the end when the losbter juices melted in with the tarragon buttons in the bottom of the shell and you really could dunk the chunks of lobster in that buttery goodness.

                        The king crab tagliatelle was my appetizer and again really great. Basically, a carbon copy of EMP's version. A good 4-5 nice sized chunks of king crab in a meyer lemon butter sauce with just a touch of black pepper for kick. A terrific way to start out my mini seafood feast. Passed on dessert, but they have a dessert trolley at lunch and not the normal dinner selections from the dinner menu. Just a warning to those who may be expecting to order one of the dinner desserts during lunch.

                        Service was absolutely wonderful as I would expect from 2 EMP alums. Oh and the potato and onion bread loaf was awesome and different from your normal garden variety bread basket. Be sure to ask for butter though since it is not provided. I love when a place puts thought into everything they do, from the bread on down to the desserts. Danny Meyer taught them well. Everyone was attentive, friendly, and not overbearing at all.

                        1. re: steakrules85

                          And I will be having the chicken next time. I can comment that I saw many tables ordering it, including the one next to me. The skin looked perfectly cooked, crispy and not burnt at all. As the woman at the table beside me said "It looks just as it did in TimeOut" lol.

                          The waitress assured me that the chicken would not be too large for one person to order and said "People do it all the time!". Shes absolutely correct in that I could take down the chicken alone. However, I could not justify ordering the chicken for just me at $78 price tag. Even if it as good as many say, at the end of the day it's chicken. Next time, I will bring someone to split the dish (and price) with.

                          1. re: steakrules85

                            Great report! I think the next time I go to The NoMad I'll order the crab tagliatelle and the lobster. Question: was there any difficulty in removing the lobster in the shell or was it already removed, but placed back in the shell for plating? Do you recall the desserts on the trolley?

                            1. re: ellenost

                              The lobster is still in the shell but since it was perfectly cooked there is no problem removing it from the shell. It gets a little annoying after you remove the lobster from the shell because the shells take up a lot of space in the staub pan. I found myself taking the shells and placing them on the cutting board that the bread comes on to make room.

                              Do I remember the dessert trolley? Ellen, you must not know me that well! As for the dessert trolley there were 4 selections I believe. A very large raspberry macaroon filled with lemon cream and rapsberry jam and raspberries were on the outside of the macaroon "sandwich". Basically like a macaroon chipwich it was very large in size. There was a berry linzer tarte, a chocolate ganache looking torte, and a butter cake made out of croissant (with your choice of raspberry or caramel sauce and powdered sugar). The macaroon and croissant looked like the most interesting but I am trying to cut back on my sweets so I did not indulge.

                              1. re: steakrules85

                                The macarons and the butter-croissant cake would be my choice too. Sorry, I should have remembered that you wouldn't forget details like the dessert trolley.

                                1. re: steakrules85

                                  Oh, interesting, I have avoided getting the lobster dish because I thought it would be an almost carbon copy of the prep that has been on the EMP menu for a while now. But if it's still in the shell it must be entirely different.

                                  1. re: Spiritchaser

                                    It is entirely different and a much larger portion. A more rustic than refined presentation to it also. Also Craft-like I would say.

                                    1. re: steakrules85

                                      Looks like another visit is in order...Thanks for the info.

                      2. re: RGR

                        Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing your photos.

                3. re: fooder

                  that is great insight, thanks! I speculated that's why we liked the brioche so much, if it were foie-laden. My companion did find the chicken skin bitter and inedible, and scraped it clean of brioche and left it on the plate alone. I do appreciate that the white meat tasted like chicken, and wasn't absolutely overpowered by truffle/foie...I guess I was just hoping for a little more decadence.

                  Not sure if i should start a separate thread on this, but can you comment on how EMP's famed lavender duck compares? Duck is one of our favorite proteins and we've enjoyed all the other poultry courses at EMP we've had so I've often thought about supplementing that to our tasting, but if the duck is cooked to a similar fashion as NoMad's chicken, I'm guessing we wouldn't like it.

                  1. re: justtryit

                    I've had the EMP lavender duck several times, and the skin has never been any shade as dark as the chicken in your photo. The duck is one of my most favorite dishes at EMP. The meat of the duck is always a beautiful shade of rose.

                    1. re: justtryit

                      The skin on the chicken has always been darker than the skin on the duck if I recall, which makes sense since you have to cook chicken through.

                      Given the skin actually was bitter, I would have sent it back. Now that I think about it, it wouldn't surprise me that there may be inconsistencies in the chicken (not that it's acceptable), as the chicken used to be served for lunch at EMP and NoMad does way more covers than EMP.

                      I wouldn't let the chicken experience affect you getting the duck at EMP. Even when I go with friends who prefer their duck more cooked the skin has never been anything but terrific.

                    2. I'm going back tomorrow and plan on ordering the chicken again so I'll try and report back but I will say your skin looks darker than mine was the first time I ordered.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: roze

                        I want to say that my gluttonous subconscious saw the darkness of the whole bird presented to us and immediately got giddy, thinking "bring on the truffle shower!"

                      2. Has the chicken this weekend. Perfectly moist white meat, no seasoning problems, skin was crispy but not bitter, dark meat was great as well. I found the portion to be quite generous. Good lord, was it good.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: kathryn

                          I'm very excited about my upcoming meal here but finding it very difficult to narrow down the selections. Here's my question: Was the chicken great "for chicken?" Or was it just plain great?
                          Ordering a dish for two certainly cuts down the sharing possibilities when there will be only two at the table!

                          What are the other standouts so far?

                          1. re: erica

                            Just plain great!

                            If you are asking for standouts other than the main course, I would say definitely start with the Fruits de Mer "Grand Plateau." If you decide against the chicken for your main, definitely the duck and the suckling pig. Oh, and from the snacks list, the sweetbreads croustillants.


                            1. re: RGR

                              Thanks, RGR! Looking also at the egg and the smoked trout among the apps..although that would mean foregoing the foie and the marrow, not to mention the tagliatelle. Life presents challenges!

                              Will report back!

                            2. re: erica

                              Raw bar - All excellent (6 bites) but in particular loved the hamachi with horseradish, and the lobster with kaffir lime and a slightly spicy aioli and some Indian spices (?), perhaps.

                              Radishes with butter - So excellent, so simple, so tasty. Wonderful.

                              Oven-roasted carrots with cumin, wheatberries, and crispy duck skin - Good but I'm not sure I'd get this again. Some Indian spices here as well too. This was a bit of a theme through a few dishes.

                              Chiffonade of snow peas with pancetta, Pecorino & mint - A great dish, full of Spring, and delicious. Nice contrast of flavors and textures. The mint was perfect. I usually find snow peas too stringy. This was fresh, crispy and not stringy at all.

                              Smoked trout, cucumber, buttermilk, and rye - Tasty but not as special as the other dishes. A little hard to share. I think I wanted more pronounced trout flavor overall.

                              As above, we had the duck and chicken for two as well.

                              Lemon custard with almond shortbread and whipped ricotta - A "textbook" delicious lemon tart in terms of taste, but they had manipulated the form factor a bit. The liquid shortbread surrounding the lemon custard was interesting but more of a gel, than liquid.

                              Milk & Honey, shortbread, brittle, and ice cream - Fantastic and not too sweet, excellent combination of "solid" milk brittle and crunchy honey brittle. Creative, delicious. Basically perfect, down to the quenelles of ice cream resembling bees.

                              Chocolate tart with caramel with hazelnut, caramel, and fleur de sel - Solid and tasty but nothing earth shattering. Tasted exactly as described.

                              Apple, brioche with apple sorbet and caramel brittle - Very interesting. It came in a cast iron pot with puffy brioche top, with warm baked apple, kind of monkeybread like. Also served with cold sorbet and apple strands in a bowl next to it, so it was a little hard to eat the warm portion out of the cast iron "pot" and the cold sorbet out of the bowl. Somehow this didn't really work for me.

                              1. re: kathryn

                                Thanks for that report, Kathryn.

                                I've just read the NYMag review (linked it on another thread); curious what you all think about his opinions.

                          2. perhaps I'm the only person in the world who didn't like the chicken:

                            1. Loved my chicken today at lunch at The NoMad! I'm not much of a fan of chicken breast, but the chicken at The NoMad has made me a convert. I've never had chicken so moist. The skin was a beautiful burnished color that was not burnt at all. The stuffing under the skin was so yummy, not a morsel was left on either my sister's plate or mine. I also loved the side plate of the dark meat with morel mushrooms. Definitely a winner dish. Since this is my last big meal for the next month while I finish the last 5 pounds of my diet (lost 25 pounds so far), I decided to make this one a truly fantastic meal. I started with the strawberry gazpacho with duck prosciutto--beautiful for a summer day. My second course was one that I always meant to have at the old EMP, but never got around to ordering: the tagliatelle with crab meat. My sister also ordered this. Both bowls were left completely empty. So glad I finally had this. Chicken was next. Finished with a long-missed favorite from the EMP dessert lunch cart: a slice of the always yummy Kouign-Amann. I'm delighted that The NoMad has brought the dessert lunch cart back. As much as I love EMP, The NoMad is fast becoming a new favorite.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: ellenost

                                I could not agree with you more ellenost. The chicken at the NoMad has completely made me a convert as well! And congrats on the diet- that's a lot of weight!

                                1. re: ellenost

                                  Sounds like a fabulous meal and congratulations on the weight loss.

                                  1. re: ellenost

                                    Had a very similar meal to yours during dinner and felt the same way. I liked the dark meat more than the white but both were fantastic. Also concur about the gazpacho and the crab pasta. The sweetbreads were not earthshaking though, but the asparagus was great as well. Congrats on the weight loss btw.

                                    1. re: tpigeon

                                      It's your retirement from those insane Shake Shack custard threads that, I am sure, must take credit for all this weight loss (congratulations ellenost). Without the pressure of those threads we no longer have the urge to rush to SS every day to eat frozen custard.

                                      1. re: FoodDabbler

                                        Thanks tpigeon and FoodDabbler! It helped that the Shake Shack soft serve flavors weren't that great; I would have felt more deprived if they had been yummy.

                                        1. re: FoodDabbler

                                          My motto is, just because you are insane does not mean you are wrong.

                                          1. re: tpigeon

                                            Your monthly Shake Shack threads were fun, but not great for my diet. Almost wish that Danny Meyer had read our comments so he would improve the flavors.

                                            1. re: ellenost

                                              I do still check the new menu every month. Just in case...