[All photos by Conor Rose]
On the facade of Nirvana, the Indian restaurant’s glowing signage advertises “Indian Culinary Bliss,” a bold statement I would normally scoff at for any restaurant in Midtown – but for here, I would have to eat my words with my meal. In an area saturated with chains and sub-par dining, Nirvana offers much more in quality and flavor than the majority of its neighbors.
To deeply immerse ourselves in Indian culinary bliss, we opted for a chef’s choice tasting offered by the host, Anil, who was happy to serve us and easily able to accommodate a gluten allergy. Dishes appeared in waves at our table ranging from traditional (such as a paneer tikka) to creative (an Indian version of shirmp cocktail rubbed with spices, and served with mango chutney in a martini glass). We also enjoyed our cocktails, a Mango Moksha (rum, pomegranate juice, mango puree, mint, lime juice, simple syrup) and an Enlightenment (citrus vodka, cranberry, pineapple juice, lime juice, simple syrup) which were both light and fruity.
The grilled items were the star of the show, having clearly just come off the grill with a lovely balance of char and juiciness. Any of the chicken dishes were also clear winners, somehow cooked tenderly and not at all dry. We sampled a plate of skeekh kebab and a marinated chicken artfully arranged like a tic-tic-toe meat board, Calamari Bhajiya, basically calamari fritters (using chickpea flour to accommodate me!) and aloo tikki. At this point, we were completely stuffed and ready to fall asleep in an Indian food haze, however we couldn’t pass up the selection of main dishes, including methi chicken with fenugreek and spices, a creamy saag paneer, and tender mahi mahi in a tangy curry, all accompanied by rice and a basket of garlicky naan.
By 7pm on a Wednesday night, the place was buzzy, partly due to a Diwali celebration upstairs, probably also because of its proximity to Grand Central, and definitely because the food was just that good. Indian culinary bliss, achieved.
For more photos, click here. This meal was provided by Nirvana, however all opinions are our own.