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Nix

Critic's Pick Critics' Pick

72 University Pl., New York, NY 10003 40.733278 -73.995938
at 11th St.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
212-498-9393 Send to Phone

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  • Cuisine: American Nouveau, Vegetarian/Vegan
  • Price Range: $$

    Key to Prices and ratings

    Upscale
    • Almost Perfect
    • Exceptional
    • Generally Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
    Cheap Eats
    • Best in Category
    • Excellent
    • Delicious
    • Very Good
    • Noteworthy
    • Very Expensive
    • Expensive
    • Moderate
    • Cheap
  • Critics' Rating: **

    Key to Prices and ratings

    Upscale
    • Almost Perfect
    • Exceptional
    • Generally Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
    Cheap Eats
    • Best in Category
    • Excellent
    • Delicious
    • Very Good
    • Noteworthy
    • Very Expensive
    • Expensive
    • Moderate
    • Cheap
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review
Photo by Noah Fecks

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Official Website

nixny.com

Hours

Mon-Thu, 5:30-11pm; Fri, 5-11pm; Sat, 10:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-11pm; Sun, 10:30am-2:30pm and 5pm-10:30pm

Nearby Subway Stops

4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R at 14th St.-Union Sq.; F, M at 14th St.

Prices

$10-$18

Payment Methods

American Express, Discover, MasterCard

Special Features

  • Brunch - Weekend
  • Great Desserts
  • Hot Spot
  • Notable Chef
  • Design Standout
  • Online Reservation

Alcohol

  • Full Bar

Reservations

Recommended

Profile

Vegetables have been at the apex of the food-fashion pyramid for several years now, so it’s only fitting that James Truman—who made a name for himself as top curator and tastemaker for the Condé Nast empire and now does more or less the same thing for the hotelier André Balazs—would develop a restaurant devoted to, well, hyperfashionable vegetables. There’s a pleasing veil of potted vines hanging over the kitchen window at Nix, which is located, conveniently, just below the Greenmarket in Union Square, and the little lamps scattered here and there around the narrow, white-painted room are constructed with what our brightly smiling server described as “salvaged driftwood trees.” (They’re fashioned from juniper roots, for the record.) Spiced pumpkin seeds are the snack of choice at the festive little bar up front, and the house martini (they make it with vodka, but please specify gin) is garnished not with an olive or a twist but with a sprig of fresh thyme.

Truman also had a hand in the fine Balazs restaurant Narcissa in the Standard hotel on the Bowery, and his partner here, as there, is the talented John Fraser, who has been at the forefront of the city’s haute-vegetable movement for years. Fraser’s produce-rich menu at Narcissa is intermingled with all sorts of more standard, meaty dishes, but at Nix there is no escape from the gentle procession of avocado (seared on a griddle and plated in a soothing puddle of tomato water), carefully articulated kale salads (scattered with sunflower seeds and sweetened hijiki), and boutique Champagne mangoes from Mexico flavored with Espelette pepper and lime. Mercifully, there’s plenty of bread available, too, in particular the exceptional house tandoor (offered with a medley of hummus, eggplant, and avocado dips), which heavy eaters can fortify themselves with before all the healthy roughage arrives.

Not that every carefully contrived vegetable combination at Nix seems all that healthy, at least not in the usual edifying, spa-friendly, hypervegetarian way. The recipes change all the time, but on my visits, the aforementioned avocado and tomato water was plated with a wad of milky-fresh mozzarella, and the egg salad I ordered one evening off the “Lighter” column of the menu was folded in a creamy mayonnaise spiked with habanero and a light dusting of crushed potato crisps. The “Bolder” column of the menu contains a hunk of deep-fried potato bread the size of a small limpet mine, and an ingenious David Chang-meets-General Tso vegan-chicken mash-up made with tempura-fried pieces of cauliflower shellacked in a sticky Tso’s-like sauce flavored with paprika, served with a little sidecar of house-cured pickles and a bamboo steamer filled with a stack of moon-shaped steamed buns.

It is possible to dine like a healthy vegetarian at this bright, buzzy, almost excessively trendy little restaurant (the certified vegan options include a brown-rice stir-fry and shreds of artichoke and broccoli rabe sautéed with tomatoes), but the sinful dishes are much more fun. I’m thinking of the shiitake “cacio e pepe,” which Fraser and his cooks poach in butter and toss with polenta, and the pile of morels plated with barley and little asparagus spears, which coheres nicely with a large poached farm egg. There’s not quite as much bravado on the short dessert list, although the house sorbets are spiked with various enticing things (apples, chopped cucumbers, slivers of candied olives), and if you want to go hog wild, call for an order of the modest, beignet­like nun’s puffs, which you can dip in a pot of warm caramel lightened with a few spoonfuls of goat’s milk.

Ideal Meal

Tandoor bread with dips, avocado à la plancha, cauliflower tempura, sorbet. 

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