Chef Daniel Humm and business partner Will Guidara are best known for their work at the Michelin-starred restaurants The NoMad and Eleven Madison Park, which was named the best restaurant in the world.
But now the team is planning to bring their award-winning food to the masses with a brand-new fast-casual concept called Made Nice.
"At Made Nice our goal is to serve guests delicious, composed dishes, that are affordable and quick – using the recipes, skills, and techniques we've perfected at Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad," Humm told Business Insider by email.
"This is the most casual restaurant we've opened, but we still want it to be delicious, to have gracious hospitality, and to embody all the values we employ at Eleven Madison Park and NoMad."
At Eleven Madison Park, a several-hours-long tasting menu costs $295 a person, but at Made Nice, guests can get a salad for between $11 and $15.
Infamous New York Times food critic Pete Wells recently reviewed Made Nice and was not impressed, giving the restaurant a stunning zero stars. Of the chicken and rice dish, Wells says, "The chicken seems exhausted. Imagine a chain of Cuban restaurants started by retired employees of the Olive Garden. This could be their arroz con pollo."
But comparing this fast-casual concept to a world-renowned contemporary restaurant is unjust — here's what we thought.
The dishes have the same visual artistry you would expect from a meal at the team's high-end restaurants.
The vibe, however, is altogether more welcoming and informal.
"We like to think of Eleven Madison Park as the type of restaurant you go to once a year, or to celebrate special occasions, NoMad as the restaurant you visit once a month for a fun night out, and we hope that Made Nice becomes a place where you can visit multiple times a week," Humm said.
"The dishes at Made Nice are inspired by many of the recipes we have perfected over time at Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad, just adapted for this new space," Humm said. "Each dish is a composed dish, so we looked to match the flavors, textures, and approached each plate with the same level of focus."
This salmon rösti dish, for example, comes with a frisée salad, smoked salmon, soft-boiled egg, potto crouton, cucumber, radish, pickled onions, and buttermilk vinaigrette. It costs $15 — not a bad price for the refreshing yet oddly satisfying meal that feels a step above the average ho-hum salad lunch.
The pork 'n carrots dish is composed of a confit pork shoulder, warm grains, roasted carrots, bacon, kale, and a sherry vinaigrette. The confit is tender and rich, while the colorful vegetable accompaniment adds a bright and light counterpoint to the pork. The dish costs $14, a good amount pricier than similar dishes at Dig Inn, a nearby fast-casual competitor.
Perhaps the most rewarding is the curry cauliflower stew, which comes with tofu, couscous, coconut, lemongrass, watercress, almond, and grapes. It's a melodious melange of fiery aromatics and mellow, sweet notes from the grapes and coconut.
This dish is available for $11 — and is worth every penny.
Other dishes available include a chicken avocado salad, khao salad with hanger steak, cod provençal, and quinoa falafel. They're all priced between $11 and $15.
There's also wine and beer, including a special "Made Nice" brew created by the Brooklyn-based brewery Evil Twin, and a selection of sparkling and still flavored waters. The soft serve is a more casual interpretation of the famous "milk and honey" dessert served at Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad.
The "coffee soda" is a blend of cold brew and cocoa nib. It's unexpectedly refreshing, with the carbonation adding a creaminess to the drink.
Made Nice is cashless, and the goal is to prepare each dish within five minutes of the guest's ordering.
Humm and Guidara have been celebrating their "world's best restaurant" win. "It was an amazing feeling, and we’re so happy to be back in NY to be with our team and to feel the energy and excitement that came from the win," Humm said. "It refuels us because we work so hard and our staff put so much energy into every single service. But yes, the pressure is certainly on, it makes us want to be even better."
Humm says of the jump to fast-casual: "It's always something we've wanted to do. We love the idea of being able to connect with more guests and to serve our food to more people." And the food is delicious — and more importantly, accessible to most, unlike Eleven Madison Park's pricey tasting menu.