January 12, 2020 | BITE: My Journal

Nordstrom: How to Eat A Wolf

Pickled baby carrots over sheep’s ricotta cheese finished with shaved purple carrot and toasted hazelnuts. 


          The Brooklyn Diner was closed for repairs and Bendel’s had long ago given up the ghost on West 57 th Street. The 95-story Central Park Tower with a posh seven-level Nordstrom’s (320,000-square-feet) below was reaching skyward next to the Art Students League along Billionaire’s Row on 57 th , steps east of Broadway.


The crowd tilts toward an abundance of young women. 


          My niece, before and after drawing classes, kept track of the iconic institution’s arrival. Nordstrom Men’s Store opened first. Then came Nordstrom NYC. Dana checked out each floor and explored the four full-service restaurants, a couple of bars, and a gluten-free doughnut stand. She brought home half a donut for me.

          If you’ve ever lived near a Nordstrom, you know it’s famous for going beyond the expected to please. Here on 57 th Street, a customer service rep will deliver your meal or drink to wherever you are shopping, in shoes, in makeup, in lingerie. Try the cocktail known as “Husband Daycare” (Redemption rye, Giffard ginger, Amaro, lemon and Moroccan bitters). Contemplate surrendering to a $1039 ankle boot while sipping the “Greenwich Village” with a compostable straw. Feel like royalty.


Nordstrom began in Seattle in 1901 as a show company. You owe it to yourself to check out the shoes.


I was appearing on the Merv Griffin show to promote my novel, Blue Skies, No Candy.


          I had a memorable experience at a Nordstrom four decades ago. I was scheduled to do an early morning appearance on the Merv Griffin Show to promote my novel, Blue Skies, No Candy. I wanted a pair of spike heels so I could cross my legs and flash my thighs. A local friend called someone she knew and arranged for the store to open an hour early so I could shop for shoes. I bought two pairs, one of them red spiked heels.


The baguette comes toasted and pre-sliced with honey-fennel butter. 


          Nordstrom is famous for taking returns no matter how long you’ve held on to them, no matter what your reason for returning. I actually just gave away my red shoes recently. I probably could have waited for Nordstrom to open on 57 th Street and returned them.


We divided the burger and shared rabbit salad with, frisée bacon, brioche croutons, red onion slivers. 


          With the loot, I could take three or four friends to dinner at Wolf, the flagship restaurant on the second floor. I’ve been to an early dinner there three times since Nordstrom opened. We didn’t order bread but when the server said, “Wouldn’t you like the Bourke Street Baguette?” we said yes. It came, wonderfully warm and pre-sliced, alongside a saucer of honey-fennel butter with floats of roasted garlic.


Sit at the counter at Wolf if you’re in a hurry or find a table overlooking 57 th Street traffic below. 


I ordered the polenta fritters with ricotta and chestnut honey and I seem to be the only one eating them.


          There are many salads and vegetables, pretty plates for ladies, you might say, if you don’t mind sounding sexist, though our guys liked the frou-frou stuff too. That first evening we started with fried oysters to dip in Calabrian chili aioli, and polenta fritters on ricotta with chestnut honey.


Dana chose the crunchy fried oysters with Calabrian chili aioli, sea salt and lemon.


           Spaghetti with leeks, chili and uni butter followed. At that point, dividing the bacon burger with Beecher’s cheese, balsamic red onion and Calabrian chili aioli in thirds seemed just right. There’s something unique about that burger, a memory of Seattle perhaps.


I’m not sure why it is, but the prime bacon burger with Beecher’s cheese has a lot of oomph. 


          We divided the burger again on the next visit, along with rabbit salad – meat, frisée, bacon, brioche croutons, and slivers of red onion tossed in red wine vinaigrette --- and a hearty mix of Brussels sprouts with kale, mint and lemon in bagna cauda.


Brussels sprouts practically make a meal, with kale, romanesco, bagna cauda, mint, lemon and


          Beef tartare, king crab salad, delicata squash – it sounds familiar enough, but the each plate adds some unexpected garnish. Avocado mousse with the crab. Parsnip puree, pistachio and pomegranate on the squash.


Slices of raw yellowfin tuna are topped with prosciutto, calabrian chili, taggiasca olives and orange. 


          Last week, I had dinner with three friends who’d not been before. They were game to divide the duck egg with wild mushrooms and the evening special of pickled carrot salad with sheep’s milk ricotta and toasted hazelnuts. The yellowfin tuna crudo topped with curls of prosciutto and vinegary anchovies arrived on a trio of bruschetta. Clearly we needed a fourth. The server agreed and bustled off to order it.


Rigatoni is tossed with spicy sausage, tomato and marjoram. A waiter comes by to grate parmesan on top. 


          I chose a trio of pastas we would share as a main course. Unfortunately, all three -- the paccheri, the potato gnocchi and even the rigatoni with spicy sausage -- were flavored with tomato and finished with parmigiano reggiano. Too taste-alike for me. 


Our server Diane tells tales of how her family got from Azerbaijan to Brooklyn. 


          At one point, the waitress, Diane, detailed her career route to Nordstrom and described her family’s voyage from Azerbaijan to Brooklyn. She gave us the Azerbaijani name for Diane and described the lemon dessert special. I ordered the zeppole, little rounds of lemon doughnut with dark chocolate sauce.

Tiny rounds of zeppole get dipped in rich, dark chocolate.


          Nordstrom began in Seattle in 1901 as a shoe company. Next time I meet friends at Wolf, I’ll leave more time for checking out the shoes. Maybe I’ll try Bistro Verde on Level Five. Or the Broadway Bar on Level Three.

Wolf Restaurant 212 295 2184. Nordstrom NYC, 225 West 57 th Street at Broadway. 212 295 2000. Located on 2nd floor near the elevators. After 9 pm Monday through Saturday and at 7 pm on Sunday, enter through NXN (Nordstrom X Nike on West 57 th .)




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