What happens when a celebrated chef known for his vegetable dishes partners with a former editorial director of an influential lifestyle magazine? If you have heard that for the first time, you would expect something like a haven for yoga pants wearing, model-figure vegetarian diners out there. I’ve always been a fan of chef John Fraser, where I have witnessed how vegetable dishes are done right at his Dovetail and Narcissa restaurants. Chef Fraser has shown that vegetables don’t have to be boring, and in fact a lot of creative ideas and techniques can come out from the kitchen. When he decided to open a new vegetarian restaurant Nix with former Conde Nast editorial director James Truman, I knew I had to check out this restaurant. On my recent weekend visit, chef Fraser has shown that he hasn’t missed a step when it comes to playful yet thoughtful vegetarian cuisine.
If you think Nix is going to be all kale salad, you would be sorely disappointed. I was deeply impressed with the way the kitchen was putting together beautifully plated dishes that show that a vegetarian meal can be fun. Any meal at Nix must begin with tandoori bread with a dip or two. My dining companion and I absolutely enjoyed the dip of spiced eggplant that came with pine nuts as well as avocado accompanied by mint and curry. The unexpected mix of different ingredients proved to be quite successful. Baby carrots en papillote where the carrots along with cracked bulgur, almonds and spices were placed in a folded pouch was magnificent as well, with all the ingredients inside the pouch creating very balanced flavor and texture.
The Yukon potato fry bread that everyone seems to be talking about these days was surprisingly pedestrian (to be fair, I think the whole concept of fry bread is this fancy idea that has yet to be executed perfectly as I have also witnessed at Covina), but there was a lot of excitement from my part the moment I saw cauliflower tempura with steamed buns and house pickles. Inspired by the Chinese steamed buns, I actually liked the cauliflower better in its crunchy texture by itself without somehow compromising it with the steamed buns. For someone who has become a regular consumer of cauliflower, I do think this dish should be on everyone’s table. Who says vegetable dishes can’t generate rich flavor? Shiitake “cacao e pepe” with green beans and creamy polenta was pure decadence that had all the richness of a pasta without overpowering your palate. Don’t skip the dessert, either. Tandoor roasted pineapple was another show stopper at the restaurant where, combined with tamarind glaze, vegan whipped cream and macadamia, the dish became quite a delight to end the meal in a very satisfying fashion.
Getting a reservation can be pretty tricky at this hot spot that has been open for a couple of months now yet still going strong, so make sure to book in advance. I absolutely loved the clean décor of the dining space that makes you feel like you’re eating inside a bright cottage just next to the garden, full of energy without being rowdy. Nix has full bar with some creative, vegetable-inspired cocktail options that I highly encourage you to complement your meal with. Nix is another winner from chef Fraser and I would absolutely love to come back here to explore the depth of the vegetable feast that the kitchen is putting together.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 72 University Place, New York, NY 10003
Telephone: (212) 498-9393