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.
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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