It was time again for my high school crew and I to reunite over a dinner table to catch up, lament, laugh and console. We were down one since a big move to the West Coast but her spirit is eternally with us. This meal would be a departure from our norm and came with a disclaimer that it would be a completely vegetarian, sometimes vegan meal. We did not balk, perhaps because the chef is Michelin-starred and probably knows what he is doing.
I arrived to Nix (72 University Place, 212-798-9393, www.nixny.com) a little late for our 7 p.m. reservation. The crew had begun with wine and cocktails and a few little … little … appetizers. The remnants of the house hummus with zaatar, spiced eggplant with cilantro and house-made cottage cheese with broccoli leaf pesto lay there for me to try with the last piece of their tandoor bread. All were very flavorful and worked well together.
My acquired hunger pangs now subsided, I finally got to take in the beautiful modern, white, gallery-like space. Whitewashed exposed brick walls and polished poured concrete floors accented with an artful lighting scheme, wood and live plants allow patrons to create their own experience at Nix. The large window to the kitchen—an art piece unto itself—gave both transparency and intrigue with plantation-style louvers tilted 30 degrees, downward allowing you to see glimpses of the hearth of Nix.
While my friends were enjoying a glass or two of wine, I was struggling with my libation choice. Should I choose one of their sweet and savory sodas such as plum and five spice or mango and paprika or select from their brief craft cocktails menu? I finally settled on the Honey Bee, made with gin, sake, Thai basil and clover honey. It was a petite cocktail that would require a couple to do some damage. Alas, it was very tasty.
Once we were settled with drinks and appetizers, we began the discussion of what interested us on the menu. Chefs John Fraser and Nicolas Farias created a menu for vegetarians and vegans alike. You will find both in the “lighter” (salads and small plates) and “bolder” (entrees and large plates) sections.
After much debate, we ordered jicama salad with Fresno chili and blood oranges, spinach and dandelion pie with feta and sorrel, steamed avocado with carrots and kale-pistachio chimichurri, tofu skin pockets with butternut squash and tomatillo-pepita salsa, cauliflower tempura and steamed buns, shiitake “cacio e pepe” with salsify and heirloom polenta and Yukon potato fry bread. We went in!
There is so much more to show and tell, including what we thought of all of that food, especially the desserts (maple custard and Nun’s puffs!), and the inspiration of the restaurant’s name. Visit my blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com (and subscribe) for the continuation.
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl and on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Follow AmNewsFOOD @NYAmNewsFOOD.