This week in my Bloomberg column I review Will Guidara and Daniel Humm’s The NoMad. It’s both a high-end riff on a French-American brasserie, as well as a more casual analogue to its fancy sister restaurant, Eleven Madison Park. I awarded four stars to Eleven Madison in February, and two stars to The NoMad on Wednesday. No real surprises there. But here’s what is surprising:
So here we have two very different establishments, by the same owners, with an IDENTICAL price point. That raises an eyebrow, doesn’t it? Of course, most consumers understand that prices aren’t necessarily indicators of quality, otherwise we’d all (momentarily) shun the $16 cavatelli with foie gras at Gabe Stulman’s Perla in favor of the $49 tagliolini with salmon roe at Nello Balan’s eponymous celebrity hangout.
But since Humm and Guidara are the owners of both establishments, which are located within a few blocks of each other, and since they’re charging the same price for the entry-level tasting menus at both spots, it’s not unreasonable for guests to hope their hard-earned disposable income might buy them a relatively similar level of enjoyment, and impart an equal sense of value, at either venue.
It’s quite a strong statement when the owners behind the fourteen-year-old Eleven Madison, which holds three Michelin stars, four Bloomberg stars, and four New York Times stars, use that very fancy restaurant’s entry-level tasting menu price as the same price for their new restaurant, The NoMad. It’s as if they’re saying, guests should expect the same level of quality here. And since The NoMad advertises seven-courses, compared with Eleven Madison’s four, you might even think you’re getting a DEAL.
As I argue in my Bloomberg column, while The NoMad’s a la carte items are generally FANTASTIC, the level of quality isn’t quite there for the $125 menu. Now to be fair, the quality argument is largely subjective. We here at The Price Hike like to make things a bit more quantifiable.
So consider this: At Eleven Madison, your four-course tasting will typically begin with 5-6 intricate amuses, continue with various intermezzos, and finish with petits fours, an all-you-can-drink offer of cognac and a take-home jar of granola. At The NoMad, you pretty much just get your seven courses, or thereabouts.
Again, both menus are $125. So if the people behind The NoMad want to give consumers the value they deserve, they’ll have to think long and hard about what they’re offering and the price point at which they’re offering it.