Nix is a Michelin starred vegetarian and vegan restaurant serving dishes drawing upon cuisines from across the globe. The separate vegan menu is essentially a sub-set of the overall vegetarian menu and includes about 75% of the dishes on the main menu. The overall concept is tasty cocktails and shared small plates, with the menu split into “lighter” and “bolder” sections, which seemed to be distinguished by portion size and price, rather than flavor profiles or adventurousness. Nix has gotten strong write-ups from the NY Times and New York Magazine, and is clearly in the vanguard of a new generation of sleek and sexy vegetable forward restaurants that are becoming prominent in New York City. This is not some hippy-dippy, seared Seitan, bad ultra-firm tofu and brown rice vegetarian restaurant.
The Tandoor bread with a variety of dipping sauces was excellent, we tried the hummus with zaatar and spiced eggplant, essentially Baba ghanoush, with pine nuts. After the Indian Mediterranean mash-up starter we had the roasted potato gnocchi served in what I think was a corn puree sauce, which was also really good. The gnocchi were light puffs that were crispy seared on the outside and creamy and fluffy on the inside, they reminded me of Takoyaki without the octopus pieces. However, the cauliflower tempura with steamed Chinese buns was a bust. The cauliflower was covered in a gloppy red sauce described by the Times as “spicy ketchup”, which based on what I was served seems like a generous description. The whole affair was then thickly coated with a layer of black poppy seeds, which added a gritty crunch texture.
The service is highly attentive, almost oppressively so, at one point my dining companion remarked that it seemed like the waiter was going to pull up a chair and sit with us.
The Dumplings: among the handful for Asian inspired items on the menu, Nix serves Pea Dumplings with radish, ginger and scallion oil, which were a show stopper. The wonton style dumplings stuffed with pureed peas flavored with mint seemed to wink at a classic English flavor profile and were delicious. The dumplings were dressed with thin slices of radish, thin slices of what I think were beets, and leafy green shoots. The dumplings and dressings were served sitting in a light sauce that packed amazing flavor. The sauce had a pronounced Chinese vinegar flavor and some spice heat from the deeply flavored scallion oil. The sauce was absolutely stunning and once the dumplings had been consumed my dining companion and I actually spooned up and slurped down the remaining sauce. I should have order several rounds of this dish and I will go back for more soon.
The Location: Nix is on University Place in Greenwich Village just north of New York University, and appropriately, just south of Union Square with its extensive farmer’s market.