His flagship restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, finally earned its third Michelin star in the 2012 Michelin Guide, joining the exclusive ranks of only an handful of restaurants in New York (Le Bernardin, Per Se, Daniel, Brooklyn Fare, Jean Georges, and Masa).
He came out with his first cookbook, an eye-popping, absolutely stunning guide describing how to prepare many of the dishes from Eleven Madison Park (check out the gorgeous 4-course meal he cooked inBoston as part of his cookbook "tour" in 2011).
And finally, he just opened up a second restaurant, just "North of Madison" (get it? No Mad?)
During a whirlwind stopover in New York on our way to Australia, we met up with another couple in the Flatiron District to try out Chef Humm's new, more "casual" restaurant.
The NoMad sits in the lobby of the NoMad Hotel. You walk through the bar before entering a huge, expansive dining area with ornate chandeliers, velvet chairs, and dark, plush carpet.
Though it was hard to decide what to order, our party of four opted to get four appetizers, the famous "Roasted Chicken for Two", a pasta entree, and one more meat entree.
Service was impeccable and the bread came right away. Served on a fun cutting board that include a special indented spot for the bread knife, this warm, soft loaf reminded us a lot of foccacia but topped with all sorts of goodies such as fennel seeds, potato "chips", and roasted onions. The bread was surprisingly soft and moist inside and had a lovely, crispy exterior.
Roasted Beets were pickled and were served with smoked creme fraiche and roasted "rye" (crunchy crumbs that added a nice textural component). We differed in opinions, but this was at least one guy's favorite appetizer.
A perfectly poached "Onsen" Egg was served with Tuscan kale, crosnes, and chorizo. Though it was on the saltier side, it was just right, and I absolutely loved the blend of flavors and textures from the salty and smoky chorizo, the gooey yet creamy farm fresh egg, and the crispy bits thrown throughout.
Chef Humm did a fantastic job on the flavors of the simple Tagliatelle with King Crab, Meyer lemon, and Black Pepper. Though I could have wished for the pasta to be just a hair more al dente, the lemony tartness of the Meyer lemons perfectly offset the rich, buttery sweetness of the king crab. The pepper added much needed spice, and really tied together the dish nicely.
The Fois Gras Torchon with Pear, Red wine, and Licorice came with a whole pear poached in red wine. Those who love fois gras really enjoyed creay fois gras and the soft poached pear. A huge, thick slice of brioche accompanied the fois gras was a big hit. "I really like the bread!" said one person.
It was early November, which is right smack in the middle of white truffle season. No Mad had a huge, gorgeous white truffle (see how big it is??!). They brought it by, and we all took nice, deep breaths as we all smelled the crazy fragrant aromas of this lovely specimen.
Bryan decided to get shaved white Alba truffles on his homemade pasta, which was awesome.My absolute favorite entree was the Black Bass slow cooked with matsutake mushrooms and spinach. I was initially drawn to the matsutake mushrooms since I had just enjoyed this gorgeous and very seasonal mushroom in Japan. I was blown away by so much more than just the mushrooms in this preparation.
First of all, the fish was executed perfectly, well seasoned and buttery soft. The matsutake mushrooms were just a bit vinegared, adding a wonderfully bright and needed contrast to the light dish. I can't say much more except that I was thoroughly impressed.
The Roast Chicken for Two is one of the the young restaurant's signature dishes, and the waiter said he always recommends trying that if it's your first time at the restaurant.
Similarly priced to the famous "roast chicken for 2" at Craigie ($80), this one kicks it up many, many notches by adding a thin layer of fois gras, black truffle, and brioche bread crumb "stuffing" in between the crispy skin and the chicken.
Objectively speaking, the chicken at Craigie is more tender (he does this whole crazy prep with sous vide, using really expensive Misty Knolls chicken). However, Humm's version is much more creatively flavored, and is really, really incredible.
Unlike at Craigie, you don't get the carcass to take home here. However, they do pull apart the dark meat and sauté it for you in this cream sauce that was a bit rich for me, but totally loved by others at the table.
"Milk and Honey" is famous, and for good reason. It was by far our favorite dessert. Three perfectly formed scoops of "milk" ice (essentially milk ice cream) are drizzled with honey and laid on top of a scattering of crushed goodness that tastes like a mix of toffee, crumbled cookies, and sugar. Absolutely fantastic.
"Coconut" consisted of a coconut cake, crushed toffee, nuts, and coconut flavored ice cream. Our friend said it reminded her of a fancy Mounds bar (I guess the elements are all there). I don't love coconut, so it was only OK for me, but it was reasonably well received. If you only plan on getting one dessert, most definitely pick the Milk and Honey.
Chemex, traditionally made coffee poured table-side was excellent.
Overall, Chef Humm has done a fantastic job on the food at his second restaurant. Though we liked some dishes more than others, I would say there was not a single "miss" on the menu. My personal favorites would be the Poached Egg, Tagliatelle with King Crab, Black Bass, and the Milk & Honey. The "Chicken for Two" comes a close second, and is definitely worth ordering if there are at least two people at your party. Our waiter was very amenable to our "family style" way of eating, and brought us share plates and even split the chicken into two plates for us.
Definitely make a reservation, as they fill up quickly. I booked a few days early, and could only choose between a 5:45PM or 10:30PM reservation. Oh, and don't be confused by the other restaurant in New York called "Nomad." Check the address and make sure you are booking at the right one!
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