Imported directly from a veranda in California direct to Union Square, this airy and open dining room is elegantly decorated down to the finest detail. Each aspect of the room, from the white washed walls and blonde wood furniture to the succulents lining the back wall of the dining room, maintains the clean warmth of a laid back home where people frequently wear white linen and never stain them. The food is much the same; it’s delicious, but doesn’t seem like something I’d be able to keep up with on a regular basis.
Nix is the sophomore follow up to Michelin starred chef and owner John Fraser of Narcissa fame, and the thing he “nixed” from this menu was meat. As excited as I am that the plant based movement is growing in New York, I wish I was just a little more excited about the execution.
Segmented into three sections: dips, light, and bold, the menu ranges in size, variety, and success. Here’s what we ate:
Honey Bee Cocktail
I felt this was worth mentioned considering how absolutely tasty it was. Gin glossed over with Thai basil, honey, cloves, and a sake floater. This light, refreshing cocktail rolls out the red carpet for summer.
Tandoori Bread & Dipping Sauces
You can substitute raw vegetables if you’re staying away from carbs, but why would you want to? Given my dining companion and fellow blogger Dishelin Guide‘s egg yolk allergy, we opted for the vegan Tandoori bread and two dips to go along with it, one more successful than the other.
Avocado, Mint & Curry
Creamy avocado, bright mint, and rich curry combine to make this dip an undeniable crowd pleaser. Get it.
Spiced Eggplant & Pine Nuts
A poor man’s baba ganoush, this dish was good, but nothing life changing. Skip it.
Dishelin Guide wasn’t a fan of this dish, but I was too curious at the combination of textures and flavors not to order it. Jerk spices, goat cheese, and kumquat come together for one of the most interesting dishes I’ve ever eaten. While I wouldn’t necessarily order it again, I found the cucumber refreshing, the goat cheese smooth, and the kumquat provided a nice touch of acid to round it out.
Steamed Leeks, Mashed Potatoes and Ramp Butter
Taking advantage of one of the most popular seasonal ingredients on the planet, this creamy dish was a disappointment. Mushy and pungent, the ramp butter was the only redeeming factor other than how beautifully it was plated. I’ve recently checked the latest Nix menu, and the preparation of this dish has changed, so I must not be the only one with this opinion.
Cauliflower Tempura with Steamed Buns and Pickles
This was one of the best dishes of the night. Though cauliflower is the new kale, I generally try to avoid it because of its high acid content, but I’m a sucker for steamed buns, and this was no different. A light tempura batter coated with a sticky sesame sauce make for the perfect combination for these airy, doughy buns.
Shiitake “Cacio e pepe”
Another home-run, this is less a cacio e pepe and more of a creamy mushroom polenta stew. Salsify is incorporated here to give it structure, and copious amounts of cracked black pepper connect the dish to its name. It is incredibly decadent, and we were so full at this point that it had to be taken home for lunch the next day. Hands down, this was the most fantastic plate of the evening.
While I don’t feel that Nix rectifies the price point of a dinner for two, it is still in its infancy, and given Mr. Fraser’s track record, strides can be made to make us feel that its worth the price tag. In the meantime, sit at the bar, order a spectacular glass of wine from the roving list or an expertly crafted cocktail, and split the cauliflower buns and the shiitake cacio e pepe. You won’t be disappointed.