[Pigging by Kim Davis: August 29, 2017]
Fast and casual, "but is it good?" the Times headline asked about the food at Made Nice. Pete Wells thought not, for the most part. I liked the lunch I ate there; loved what my daughter ordered (a dish Wells didn't try; presumably not on the menu when he was there.
As Wells would, I think, agree, the operation is spectacularly well run: many cooks on the line, servers clearing dishes and trays in a spotless dining room. Before you eat anything, you're in a much better environment than the average midtown food-on-a-tray lunch spot.
I ordered the salmon rösti bowl (the menu comprises nine bowls and a few sides and desserts; add poulet frites in the evenings). There was a lot going on: frisée salad, a dill-caper relish on the egg, cucumber, radish, a buttermilk vinaigrette. The smoked salmon was good quality; what lifted the dish were the rösti--small, square, still warm potato cakes, crunchy on the outside, silky within.
My daughter chose the "pork 'n' corn," one of the nicest things I've tasted all summer. The center-piece, pork shoulder, was tender and juicy; there were cremini mushrooms and caramelised onions. Oddly, we didn't find the advertised chorizo. But again, something lifted the dish: what I'd call a kicked-up succotash. Roasted corn paired not with lima beans but with wheatberries, which eat very much like tiny beans. I don't know why this was so good, but I'd have bought jars of it to take home.
Prices, $14-$15 per dish. It's easy to spend $7 on a Boar's Head deli sandwich, or $8-$9 at a steam table in this neighborhood. Ticks every column for me.