NoMad Las Vegas hotel and restaurant are all about 'indulging in fantasies'

Michael Hiller, Special Contributor

LAS VEGAS — Give some travelers a plate of fresh pasta and a chocolate dessert, and that’s all they need to leave a restaurant happy. For others, it’s a good wine list, an engaging server or flattering lighting. For me, it’s a great roast chicken. I love the way its thin, crackly skin and tender, juicy interior play off each other, their savory aromas swirling first around the plate and then around the table like a conjured spell. 

The NoMad Las Vegas hardly needs to serve a great roast chicken to feel magical. But the Nomad’s free-range bird, stuffed with black truffles, foie gras and brioche, is no grocery store rotisserie chicken. The NoMad’s roast chicken has superpowers. And so do many of the restaurant’s other dishes, a collection that ranges from comforts like fresh tagliatelle tumbled with king crab, lemon and cracked black pepper to extravagances that include lobster, more truffles and even more foie gras. 

In a year plumped up with new restaurants and hotel renovations, the completion of Park MGM and its glamour boutique hotel-within-a-hotel, NoMad Las Vegas, register as the most noteworthy additions to the Strip. It’s been a slow welcome. Park MGM’s new restaurants, cocktail bars, common areas and refreshed guest rooms have been blinking on like fireflies since late last year, culminating with the debuts of Eataly, the On the Record nightclub and Lady Gaga’s two-year residency before the calendar flipped to 2019.

Dinner at the NoMad restaurant is as much a show as a meal, concluding with baked Alaska finished tableside.  

Park MGM has replaced the former Monte Carlo resort in a top-to-bottom $450 million redo that makes the hotel barely recognizable to those who recall its dingy carpets and low-budget interior. The NoMad occupies the top four floors of the 32-story Park MGM, whose thousands of guest rooms aren’t as spacious or well-appointed as the NoMad’s 293. Park MGM will appeal to budget-minded travelers, while NoMad will draw in the more moneyed crowd (a recent check found Park MGM midweek rates from $99 and NoMad from $179.)

“NoMad as a brand is over-the-top to begin with,” says Andrew Zobler, founder and chief executive of Sydell Group, which owns the NoMad brand and partnered with MGM to open NoMad Las Vegas. “It’s about indulging in fantasies here. We are in the world of yes and never saying no.”

The NoMad Las Vegas hotel occupies the top four floors of the new Park MGM resort. The rooms are done up with wood floors, area rugs and stylish art.   

Zobler’s partners in the NoMad brand include chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, the duo behind Manhattan’s well-regarded restaurant Eleven Madison Park. Zobler says he’s wise enough to let Humm and Guidara run the bar and restaurant unfettered.

It’s inside NoMad’s restaurant that you’ll find that magical roasted chicken and a fantastical design that could double as a movie set. More than 20,000 old books line shelves that ring a three-story dining room done up in oxblood red and midnight blue. A handsome cocktail bar sits tucked out of view,  ideal for those seeking a discreet hideaway. 

The hotel bar serves a menu of casual and complex dishes that won’t break the bank. No, you can’t order the restaurant's $94 roast chicken at the bar (it’s meant for two to share), but the $14 carrot tartare is otherworldly, and the $17 burger is among the best you’ll find.

The NoMad hotel bar serves a menu of casual and complex dishes that won't break the bank. 

“We fight against people thinking a meal at NoMad is more expensive than it is and stuffier than it is,” Guidara says. “Delicious food and gracious service is front-and-center at all our restaurants. You can get in and out of both restaurants for less than $100 per person, and significantly less than that if you want. That’s including an entrée, sides and a drink.”

At first glance, the dining room may indeed appear upright and formal, but it’s decidedly the opposite. Remember when you dressed up to go out because dinner was also the show? Dishes prepared tableside? Flaming baked Alaska? Smart, engaging service? A great mixtape played at a volume that respects you? That’s the NoMad.

“Listen, I’m 39, and I don’t want to ever eat at a restaurant where I have to whisper,” Guidara says. “I want to have fun and be able to talk to the people I’m with. ... We purposely work to design restaurants that feel warm and friendly and inviting.”