The 7th-floor restaurant at the swank Park Hyatt is on track to re-open on June 3 with a new name (just barely -- NoMI Kitchen), a new attitude (no more tablecloths, no more Dale Chihuly chandeliers -- in plain sight, anyway; they are Chihulys, after all), a new color scheme, a new, open kitchen with Molteni stove -- and a new culinary team.
Joining executive chef Ryan LaRoche, 32, will be pastry chef Meg Galus, 32, most recently of the Sofitel, and chef de cuisine Sean Pharr, 30, whose resume includes Fat Cat in Uptown, Osteria Via Stato and Fred's at Barney's.
It's a reunion of sorts for the three chefs, who all cut their teeth in the kitchen at Tru, LaRoche as sous chef, Pharr on the fish station and Galus in pastry.
"You get into a role like this, and there's so much change going on in the restaurant with the menus and my position that I felt I really needed to surround myself with people I knew and trusted," says LaRoche, who had been chef de cuisine at NoMI for the past two years.
The menu has been much expanded with a focus on "ingredients rather than technique," LaRoche says. "More about the food than what 50 things can I do with a carrot." The pricing will be "not as astronomical as before," he says. "Approachable," says Lynne Bredfeldt, Park Hyatt's public relations director.
The sushi bar will offer more shellfish and ceviche in addition to the pristine sushi diners came to expect of the old NoMI.
LaRoche is particularly excited about two new categories on the menu: "Simply Prepared," with plates such as a New York strip with roasted tomatoes, and "For the Table" -- as in, a whole lobe of Hudson Valley foie gras for the table.
"I'm not sure if anybody's doing that [whole foie preparation] in the city," he says. "We'll do a prime, bone-in, dry-aged beef for the table, poached whole chicken for the table. That's how people want to eat now. The fine-dining dollar has changed dramatically." (Note: You still can expect that foie to cost you a pretty penny.)
In November, when we first reported on the overhaul, NoMI was celebrating its one Michelin star. Going forward, LaRoche says, the restaurant still has stars in its sight -- but it's taking the longer view.
"We fully intend on keeping our Michelin star, however, we want a busy restaurant and happy customers," he says.