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Jun 18, 2012 09:22 AM

The Rooftop at The NoMad - Our Wonderful Experience

First, a disclaimer. I went in with a really bad attitude due to awful traffic getting from the Governor’s Island ferry, barely making it to the restaurant on time and feeling very rushed so, even though it was through no fault of theirs, they were going to have to really impress me to get me out of my mood. As it turned out dining at The NoMad Rooftop was exactly what I needed.

Upon arrival we were quickly greeted by Zack, who welcomed us by name, and asked if we wanted to head right out or linger. We chose to go to the table outside. Although it is a brief walk to the outside all staff we passed nodded and gave a greeting, always a nice touch. The temp was perfect, a little breeze, and beautiful light. We were seated at a two top with that incredible view of the Empire State building and almost immediately our server Lucas, who was always wonderful downstairs in the main restaurant, was over to say hello and introduce himself and ask about water and cocktails – my mood was already improving. He explained the thinking behind the cocktail menu and then said he’d be back after we decided on something. GF choose the Gin Gin Mule and I had the Penicillin (the menu gave a shout out to the drink origins so it was noted the Penicillin was a Milk & Honey creation). After the drinks arrived and we settled in Lucas asked if there were any food restrictions other than GF being a vegetarian and also if we had thought about what we would be drinking with our dinner, when asked, he outlined the pairing options and mentioned we could also do bottle, glasses, non-alcoholic drinks, etc. We chose the Rose pairing option because we thought it would pair well with Springy/Summery dishes AND it seemed like an unusual/fun pairing idea. We were told we could tell them when we were ready to start with our dinner. The Wine Director Thomas stopped by to give us some more info regarding the pairing we had selected, he would also return every time a new wine was poured to give us the history behind what was being paired and why (without ever dipping his hand to give away what dish was coming up).

Then the meal started and was pretty much as described by other write ups:

First course –
ME- Clams, smoked salmon, cucumber snow, diced melon, salmon roe (easily one of my favorite dishes of the evening)
GF – Strawberry gazpacho – She enjoyed it quite a bit

Second course –
Both of us had the tomato bread, soda (I believe it was tomato water, lemon verbena, and jalapeño), followed by the tomato salad. This is where we disagree regarding the soda, we thought it was fantastic, it was something I would actually buy if available outside of the restaurant and it made complete sense with the bread/tomato. Flatbread was very good and the tomato salad was wonderful (and no lie, I am usually not a fan of tomato but this was something else).

Third course –
ME - Eggplant with diced blood sausage (which at first I thought was beef heart), quinoa, and some wonderful bracingly bitter greens.
GF – Same dish minus the blood sausage. We both liked this dish quite a lot, GF more than me.

Forth course -
ME- Black bass, this was a perfectly cooked piece of fish, Le Bernardin quality fish preparation, and my favorite dish of the evening.
GF – An asparagus dish with (from memory) a fava bean puree and a savory crumble.

Fifth course –
ME – Duck, a very nice sized slice of breast, flawless, wonderful both taste and texturally, paired with the apricot accompaniments.
GF – A roasted broccoli dish with cheese crisps. She said this was similar to something she had, and enjoy a lot, at EMP.

Sixth course-
We both had the cherry sundae. A great end to a fantastic meal. This was followed by a little dish of shaved ice (granita-esque?).

The light was fading fast on the fifth course and it was very dark by the sixth course so I understand the comments regarding the light, I think it’s a tough balancing act because you want the ambience created by the night but you also want to see this beautiful food. Based upon conversation I’m sure management is aware of it as well and is probably working on a solution. Also, regarding the concerns of the evening coolness, the management must be listening because it got quite chilly Saturday evening but the staff was quick to notice anyone appearing uncomfortable and was quick to offer a “shawl” for anyone that wanted one, several men and women took them up on the offer.

Service was wonderful, courses arrived when expected (no awkward lulls or such), explanations were concise, wine glasses were placed and filled at the appropriate time, pours were generous, and the pairing was inspired.

The food was absolutely from the mind of Chef Humm and team and was, IMO, just as wonderful in its own way as food at EMP albeit a little more casual in its presentation/plating.

The price is a bit higher than one might expect due to the additional “surcharge” but I still consider it money well spent. I also would like to see clarification of the tipping policy because it’s a little ambiguous, a minor fault in a completely wonderful experience. I would recommend to anyone in a heartbeat.

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  1. What were the roses? And how much did all this cost?

    4 Replies
    1. re: zizouz

      I had made notes on the wine but I am unable to find them at the moment, when I do I will add that info. Regarding the cost. for two people it is automatically $326.63 (meal @125 X 2 + 20% surcharge), the pre-arranged pairings run $75 per, cocktails $15 per.

      1. re: Spiritchaser

        The wines:

        1st (clam dish)-Movia Puro Rose 2004

        2nd (tomato dishes)-Sancerre Rose, Philippe Raimbault 2011 (favorite wine of the evening)

        3rd (eggplant)-Cinsault Rose, Chateau Musar Jeune 2010

        4th (black bass)-Cassis Rose, Clos Sainte Magdeleine 2011 (from a Magnum)

        5th (Peking duck breast)-Rose Champagne, Coutier Grand Cru NV

        6th (cherry sundae)-Rose Pineau des Charentes, Navarre

        1. re: Spiritchaser

          Just to be pedantic, It's Pekin duck (a kind of duck -- the white kind they have out on Long Island), not Peking Duck (a Chinese dish).

          Sorry to be annoying. This is just one of those things that get to me, for no justifiable reason at all.

          1. re: Sneakeater

            You are 100% correct though. I guess my brain is more attuned to Peking than Pekin and my hands type what my brain thought I wanted to say : ).

    2. Great report! Now that The NoMad has earned its 3 stars from the NYTimes, getting tickets to the Rooftop will be as difficult as getting tickets to Next in Chicago!

      3 Replies
      1. re: ellenost

        Thanks for the compliment. And I agree that the review will make it more difficult to get rez or tixs. I am thrill at their success even if it does impact our fun : )

        1. re: Spiritchaser

          Thanks for the writeup! I had a great meal at the NoMad a month ago (better than EMP, in my book) and can see the rooftop from my apartment so I've been looking forward to going sometime soon. Sounds like it's well worth it. Out of curioisty, is the "surcharge" just a fixed gratuity or is it something separate and you're expecting to tip on top of that?

          1. re: arturusthorne

            Well according to their website the 20% is a fixed amount and is associated with the added operation expense and in no way assocaited with server compensation. They do note the waitstaff is highly compensated (not sub minimum wage) and tipping is up to you (basically words to that affect). It is one of the only things I commented I'd like to see improved guidance on tipping because I left a tip but was it too much? not enough?

      2. Wow, SpiritChaser must be from out of town, because - aside from the view - the Nomad rooftop is not ready for its NYC close-up. I left hungry, and I am a 130-pound female. Everything was market-fresh, but as in "I could have stopped at Greenmarket and made this at home" fresh. We regretted getting the rose' pairings because the wine started to pile up while we kept hoping the next plate would be bigger and contain some carbs. Alas, I went home drunk and polished off some leftover pasta. I'm a big fan of EMP, and I'm trying to figure out what went wrong here. My guess is they decided they could coast on the view. It might work if I left full and un-wowed (such as at WD-50), but not both hungry and unimpressed. Then I just become an angry drunk.

        5 Replies
        1. re: mojavejen

          Well, I guess you are in the minority or just require more food than most people. GF and I are regulars at EMP and our meal this review was based upon was easily up to the standards of Chef Humm and Will.

          1. re: mojavejen

            I've gone for cocktails, and was equally underwhelmed. Drinks were closer to a watered down slushy, lacking any skill in mixing whatsoever, and pours too light to survive the grounded ice. We found the non-alcoholic drinks were nearly indistinguishable from alcohol drinks. I'm thinking it's an issue of quality control, but the choice of glass and ice itself suggests a problem conceiving and executing their drink menu, none of which is incredibly inventive.

            1. re: sugartoof

              I'm curious how you reconcile your negative review of the cocktail program at the NoMad with all the accolades the bar has gotten so far?

              I would think that if the 'choice of glass and ice itself suggests a problem conceiving and executing their drink menu, none of which is incredibly inventive' is true, you would not read so many glowing reviews in national and regional publications.

              1. re: Beloved1

                I don't have to reconcile anything. Have you really found reviews to always be 100% accurate? The bar is not turning out quality drinks in league with the top cocktail bars. The NoMad has no clothes. The Library room is nice, and that will be enough for many occasions, just not one where you want a special, expertly mixed drink.

                1. re: sugartoof

                  I agree that reviews aren't always 100% accurate - but I usually give more credence to reviews when the large majority are positive.

                  To each his/her own. I actually didn't love the library room, so I think we just have different tastes.

          2. I have no experience of this place, but I'm a bit put off by this "administrative fee" thing, which the website says "serves to offset ancillary expenses associated with service on the Rooftop". What? Isnt the price of the food and drink supposed to do that? Why not just peg the price of a ticket at $150, instead of $125 + 25 "administrative fee". It's kinda like the "(in)convenience fee" charged at ticketmaster. Just tell me what a ticket costs, already!

            Glad you enjoyed the food though.