For a die-hard foodie like me, all I ever want is to dine at a fantastic restaurant with someone who enjoys all things food as much as I do. You can bet that no carb-phobia, sugar-aversion or calorie-induced-guilt will be allowed at that table. No sir!
I am so lucky to have one friend who is my ideal dining companion. And I know that because, when seated across the table from him at one of New York city’s hottest new restaurants, I felt like I was sitting with a mirror facing me. A mirror which can talk, that is. For I realized that he and I were expressing identical reactions and making the exact same sounds with each bite we tried at the amazing Nur restaurant in New York! Moshe, Turkish-born, Harlem-resident… a master of “experience driven hospitality” and a keen observer of every little detail put into a restaurant (both in food and decor)… LOVED Nur as much as I did. We were both planning our next visits to Nur before we even finished our meal and at one point we were both debating who will be better at enacting the famous restaurant scene in When Harry Met Sally with Meg Ryan. Hmm.. who was the best person to express our foodgasm?! Moshe won! Needless to say that a few heads turned, but what were we supposed to do…. the food was THAT GOOD!
Nur offers delicious food that takes one on a cultural journey through the streets of the many countries comprising the Middle East… with a nod to Libya, Morocco and in one case, India!
Moroccan-Israeli chef Meir Adoni’s love of world cuisine, paired with his unmistakable creativity and proven mastery over middle-eastern ingredients and culture is showcased with a modern and confident vibe on Nur’s small but potent menu.
The plates were complex, often with tons of components … almost as if Meir wanted to give us his entire culinary life experience on a plate. Surprisingly, this lack of editing created layers after layers of flavors and surprises in each bite. I admit that sometimes it was a bit tricky to figure out how to take one comprehensive bite and taste all its components. But I discovered that no matter which ever way I scooped up a bite off the serving plate – everything just worked beautifully! Each bite had interesting textures and flavors – many times in form of unexpected surprises.
Some dishes on Nur’s menu are popular street foods, done to perfection with exciting twists to constantly keep the diner excited. You MUST try the breads and the accompanying condiments. Like the Jerusalem Sesame Bagel the texture of which I am still reliving in my memory. Or the perfectly baked Honey & Garlic Challah with the memorable addition of onion seeds. Yum!!!
The Tuna Ceviche Panipuri made me feel skeptical at first. I am originally from India, and the Panipuri is one of those street foods loved and revered by all Indians. I was sure that this dish would disappoint because, how could a middle-eastern chef serve me a better Panipuri? Well! I was delightfully surprised with this bite. It was not Indian-tasting at all …. but oh! It tasted so divine! I LOVED the genius Yuzu, buttermilk foam inside!!! You must try this.
The Smoked Eggplant Carpaccio is sure to blow you away! This was one of those plates – with lots and lots of components which at once made this dish familiar yet different … in a good way! I mean, who would have thought rose water could taste good with smoked eggplant?!
While everything was delicious, the Seared Scallops fell a little bit short on perfection scale. The reason was that tiny bit of extra seasoning which overpowered some other beautiful components on the plate like the oyster sauce and the arak tomato sauce. I absolutely LOVED the puffed lentils with their thrilling texture on this plate though.
Choosing desserts was a hard task. Each option offered some unusual ingredients combinations making us wonder and anticipate what they would taste like. We finally settled on the Hills of Jeusalem. We could not resist a dessert that had ingredients like cardamoms, pistachio cream, almond sablé, smoked yogurt ice cream…. and get this… artichokes!!! Sounds weird right? But this is one helluva dessert! I loved it’s play on textures and temperatures. Moshe’s keen observation skills noted that the serving dish was chilled to maintain some of the components at the right consistency and temperature. Such attention to detail!
Its a small space and the tables at Nur are booked a month to date in advance. Each midnight, a new batch of tables is up for grabs … so get them before its too late! Alternately, try your luck at the first-come-first-serve bar seating. Good luck, and I hope you enjoy the Nur experience as much as Moshe and I!