Location: Nirvana, 346 Lexington Ave, New York, NY, 10016
Best Dish: The Chicken Tokka naan was stupendous. The chicken was moist and well seasoned and the naan soft and fluffy, a winning combination.
Overall: A quaint and relaxed eatery for your next date night or dinner with friends. Be sure to order accompaniments like raita and chutney with your meal to add balance and depth.
From the outside, Nirvana appears to be a casual lounge. However just upstairs is a chic dining room where guests enjoy feasting on classic and contemporary Indian cuisine. The menu is extensive, covering dishes and techniques from the Northern and Southern regions of India. There is a variety of fresh bread, spicy curries, and sumptuous stews to choose from. The decor is rustic and chic with exposed brick lining one wall and pops of brilliant red littered about the space.
We started with a light bite of spiced potatoes wrapped in a crispy pastry. These savory turnovers are served with spicy and sweet dipping sauces.
Chicken Tikka Naan
We adore naan and were excited to try it filled with chicken tikka. The fluffy outer layer of naan was soft and buttery. The inside was warm and comforting. As a whole, the bite was like an Indian quesadilla minus the cheese
Lamb Pepper Dry
This dish is essentially a lamb stirfry with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and cracked spices. The flavor is intense but not spicy. We devoured this dish with fresh garlic naan, but it would be just as good with rice. The naan was essential in soaking up the pungent meat and veggie mix.
Venison is the meat of a deer, having never seen this on a menu at an Indian restaurant we had to try it. The natural earthiness of deer is a good vehicle for the spicy nutty heat of Indian seasonings. The texture can be surprising and a little off-putting if you aren’t prepared. Venison is very lean and as such does not have the smoothness of beef it instead has a texture that is a cross between a beef filet and liver. This dish has a sourness that begs for balance. Unfortunately, it is served with a tasty but tangy lemon rice. The combination of the rice and meat can be overwhelming. We recommend having a serving of raita and mango chutney to impart some sweetness and tamper the sour notes.
Enlightenment and Mango Moksha
Nirvana has a full-service bar and offers an assortment of cocktails. The Enlightenment is a refreshing vodka-based mixture with cranberry, pineapple, and fresh lime. The Mango Moksha is a rum-based cocktail with the tropical flavors of fresh mango puree and mint.
By definition, Nirvana is freedom from worry and the outside world. Nirvana, the restaurant offers a similar reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city that surrounds it. Having the dining room upstairs allows for a deeply engaging dining experience, in which you can focus on your meal and whomever you may be sharing it with. Dinner was enjoyable and we recommend taking full advantage of the accompaniment menu as these add-ons will impart flavor you didn’t know you needed.
Hours of operation: Lunch Mon-Sun 12pm-3pm, Dinner Mon-Thurs & Sunday 5pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. Visit www.nirvanany.