When we booked our table at Nix for Memorial Day, I not only did not know what to expect, but also did not know where the name of the restaurant came from, until they gave us the check and a post card with Nix vs. Hedden was attached to it. This is an interesting case that made its way to the Supreme Court: Nix v. Hedden, was a decision by the Supreme Court in 1893 that, under U.S. customs regulations, tomatoes should be classified as a vegetable and not as a fruit. The Washington Post gave last year an interesting insight on this case:
"At the time of the court case in question, Nix v. Hedden, fruits and vegetables differed in another big way, as well: Imported vegetables were slapped with a 10-percent tariff upon their arrival in the United States, and imported fruits were not. When one Manhattan wholesaler — John Nix & Co., owned by John Nix and his four sons — got hit with the tariff on a shipment of Caribbean tomatoes, he disputed the tax on the grounds that tomatoes were not technically vegetables".
I do not know if it is an homage to John Nix that means that Chef John Fraser (Dovetail, Narcissa), the co-owner of the restaurant, agrees with the fact that a tomato is a fruit or not...
Anyway, we had lunch at Nix and had a great experience: I am not vegetarian, but Jodi is, so she was glad that I found this place. And for a carnivore like me, I admit that I was not put off by the menu that I found very interesting, with lots of mouth watering dishes. Chef Fraser did not just create a menu that would make you think that you are eating a bunch of sides: he crafted a very creative menu where vegetables are the stars, so tasty that even carnivores like me would not know what to pick from all the mouth watering dishes they offer. We started off by ordering some of their non-alcoholic drinks. Meyer lemon and anise soda for me, Pear and cardamon soda for Jodi. Both were very good and refreshing, my preference being the former one, the anise enhancing further the taste of the lemon.
We decided to share a few dishes. The first one was their tandoori bread with three dips: hummus, avocado with mint & ginger and smoky eggplant. The bread alone was superb, crispy and nicely charred. I just wish they gave more of it. All the dips were delicious, especially the hummus and the eggplant.
Next was the Half naked avocado, smoked crème fraîche and chili oil. The presentation was beautiful and it was good, the avocado being perfectly ripened.
It was followed by the Shiitake mushroom lettuce wraps with hoisin sauce and thai chili. This was my least favorite dish, the texture of the mushrooms and their taste not being to my liking.
My favorite was the cauliflower tempura that, like the mushrooms mentioned previously, required a bit of assembly, putting the cauliflower, pickles, pickled carrot and mayo in a homemade steamed bun. It was nice, not too spicy, and the cauliflower had a slight crunch that added some texture. I definitely recommend this dish.
Last was dessert. We decided to go for the nun's puffs, called in French "pets de nonne" or "nun's farts" (don't ask me why!), that are little puffs quite eggy, dipped in sugar after being deep fried. They were accompanied by some Mexican chocolate and an apple cider dip that I ditched, these puffs standing on their own and being quite addictive.
This was a great lunch and we definitely needed a walk after that. Nix is the kind of vegetarian restaurant that would not scare carnivores and brings vegetarian dishes to a higher level. I just wish there were more restaurants like this...
Enjoy (I did)!
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NIX - 72 University Pl, New York, NY 10003