With his “Meatless Mondays” menu at Dovetail and his legitimately farm-to-table Narcissa (sourcing eggs and produce from partner Andre Balazs’ Hudson Valley-based plot), chef John Fraser has long been well ahead of the curve. So instead of feeling like a tip of the hat to the current, “vegetable-focused” crave, his newest venture, Nix, reads as an ambitious next step in his culinary evolution.
Located in conveniently close range to the bountiful Union Square Greenmarket, this is actually Fraser’s first, entirely meat-free project — in fact, much of the menu is fully vegan, from house-baked Tandoor Bread with a quadrant of dips (zaatar-spiced hummus, red pepper-walnut, eggplant with pine nuts and avocado, mint and curry), to Haricots Verts Salad, Wok Roasted Cucumbers, Tofu Pockets with butternut squash, Cauliflower Tempura tucked into Chinese-style steam buns and — originally popularized at Narcissa — Overnight Clay-Oven Beets.
If you’re not feeling so abstemious, rest assured that other, vegetable-adulating dishes get an indulgent leg up with the help of cheese and dairy. You’ll find Egg Salad bound with habanero cream and potato “crispies,” as well as Baby Carrots en Papillote, strewn with almonds and slathered in Moroccan butter among the “Lighter” offerings, and an uncompromisingly luscious Yukon Potato Fry Bread (mounded with sour cream, cheddar, scallions, radishes and broccoli, like a loaded baked potato) described as “Bolder” feeds, along with a clever Shitake “Cacio e Pepe,” featuring curls of pecorino and pepper-glossed mushroom masquerading as pasta, and poured over puddles of creamy heirloom polenta.
Need further proof that Fraser isn’t merely catering to health nuts? There’s also a legit dessert section, featuring truly unique compositions such as Fuji Apple Sorbet, squeezed with lime and accompanied by candied olives, as well as Maple Custard paired with huckleberries, cream and walnuts, a dense Chocolate Mousse Cake, spiked with malty, herbaceous amaro and enlivened with passion fruit, and Nun’s Puffs — a French, choux-type pastry with crunchy, peaked caps — delivered with a tangy goat’s milk caramel dip. With a feast like this, who could possibly miss this meat?