The new Made Nice restaurant is a modern, brightly lit space in New York’s Flatiron district adorned with colourful slogans like “Fresh & Natural” and “Green Power”. It’s here that chef Daniel Humm and co-owner Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park – voted the world’s best restaurant at the beginning of April – plan to turn many of their signature dishes from the eleven-course tasting menu into full meals.
So, suckling pig confit with rhubarb and onion becomes a confit pork shoulder with warm grains and baby kale ($14); the restaurant’s famous milk and honey dessert, in which diners cut into a ball of milk custard to release a river of honey, evolves into milk-flavoured soft-serve ice-cream with honey brittle and a drizzle of buckwheat honey ($6).
“We’re doing our food and service in a more accessible way. It’s the same discipline and precision, but just a different set of intentions,” said Guidara.
That means that just as at the three-Michelin-star Eleven Madison Park, plating is key. Even for take-out orders, dishes are arranged on wide plates with three-star exactness. The flavours are just as carefully composed – and often unexpected. Gems of dried apricot pop up in a pile of quinoa; grapes find their way into a coconut-lemongrass curry with roasted cauliflower. In the assortment of salads, called Grains & Greens ($12), a swipe of almond butter hides under chickpeas and celery like a buried treasure.
For Humm, creating a “fast-casual” menu presented a unique set of challenges. At Eleven Madison Park, dishes are consumed immediately after they leave the kitchen; for Made Nice, the seasoning had to be adjusted so that the food would still taste good when its brought back to the office. And while Eleven Madison Park is all about savouring the experience, Made Nice also has to serve up a filling meal.
“At Eleven Madison it’s all about being delicious, but here it’s also about how much energy it gives you,” Humm said. “How do you feel three hours later?”
• 8 West 28th Street, New York, madenicenyc.com