You guys, I think I’ve found my new favorite restaurant! Located in Greenwich Village, Nix is John Fraser’s latest and greatest creation. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because John Fraser is the man behind Narcissa and Dovetail. Both places are great when it comes to meatless options, but Nix is his first fully vegetarian restaurant with plenty of vegan offerings. I’m thrilled that the plant-based movement is growing strong in NYC.
First of all, the space at Nix is pretty sweet. Sleek, fresh, and bright. White walls, blonde wood, subtle textures. This is what my dream home would look like. Our corner booth was great for date night and also for admiring the space. We came here for an early dinner, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s difficult to get a reservation for peak dinner hours.
In case you’re wondering, the name “Nix” refers to a 19th century Supreme Court case that debated whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. The Court unanimously ruled that the tomato is a vegetable, even though science classifies any plant containing seeds as a fruit. Reminds me of the meme: “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting tomatoes in a fruit salad.” I wonder how the Supreme Court likes their fruit salads.
We ordered from the all vegan menu, which is only missing a handful of dishes from the vegetarian menu. As many of you know, I’m a fan of Narcissa, where the vegetarian dishes are rich and full-flavored. Overall, the vegan offerings at Nix are slightly lighter, but the flavors and textures are still on point. Feels fresh and refined. You don’t need dairy and eggs to make a satisfying meal.
The menu is divided into three sections — Dips, Lighter, Bolder — and you should order at least one item from each section for a complete meal. We started with the avocado, mint, and curry dip ($4) with a side of tandoor bread ($5). There’s the option of having raw vegetables instead of the bread, but how could you say no to this beauty? The dip was almost like an Indian guacamole. Lots of avocado, heavy on spices.
Next up, a salad from the Lighter section of the menu. Wok roasted Persian cucumbers with jerk spices and kumquats ($14). I got quite a kick (maybe too much of a kick) from some of the spices, but coolness from the veggies helped tone that down a bit. Refreshing and tangy, but it packed the least wow out of all the dishes that night.
Yuba seems to be gaining popularity and popping up everywhere these days. At Nix, they use tofu skin to make enchiladas with butternut squash and tomatilla-pepita salsa ($15). These tasty little pockets are actually quite hearty and meaty. The toppings add nice texture, and that sauce made me want to lick the plate clean.
The cauliflower tempura with steamed buns and house pickles ($14) is a must order dish at Nix. Sweet and sour cauliflower with the perfect tempura batter. Tender cauliflower on the inside, crunchy batter on the outside. It’s a shame we were sharing this as I would happily eat all the cauliflower by myself. The accompaniments are good too.
They present the soft, fluffy buns in a bamboo basket straight out of the steamer and leave it to you to assemble the buns yourself. It took a couple tries to set this up in an artful manner for a photo, but I think I did okay with this one…
Before leaving New York, I went back for round two to try a few more dishes. I couldn’t say no to the avocado dip and tandoor bread, but we also tried the red pepper and walnut ($4) dip. Such a stunning yellow orange color! Smooth, spicy, and creamy, this dip is another winner to start your meal with.
From the Lighter section, we ordered the jicama salad ($12). I had read about this dish on another blog, where the writer described the entire salad as a single long ribbon of jicama. That was not the case, and I felt slightly cheated by that blogger’s description. That said, the jicama was crisp and refreshing. Fresno chili and blood orange adds a contrasting kick, while the fried onions offer a pleasant crunch. (I should point out that the Bolder dishes are much stronger than the Lighter offerings, so if you’re torn between two dishes, go with former.)
I’ve seen many photos of Nix’s interpretation of “cacio e pepe” ($20) all over Instagram, and even though it’s vegetarian, not vegan, I couldn’t resist. (My kitchen is dairy-free, but I occasionally have a little dairy when I’m eating out.) Instead of pasta noodles, there’s a bed of heirloom polenta complemented by flavorful shiitake mushrooms and asparagus. It’s got that sinful, cheesy pepperness that we all know and love about cacio e pepe. Rich and heavy, definitely worth the calories. This is a dish to share as it fills you up.
You know I love mushrooms, so naturally I was drawn to the morel dish ($26) in the Bolder section. This was another heavy one. What you don’t see in this photo is the chewy spring onion crepe hidden underneath the other ingredients. I was surprised to see tomatoes here, but they were delicious alone and with the other components. The textured morels soak up the creamy sauce, and the combo of their flavors and textures took me to my happy place.