With “vibrant” ingredients on plates that “have energy,” Pete Wells embraces the high-spirited Nur in Flatiron and its take on Middle Eastern cuisine.
On a menu with broad reach, with influences from Morocco, Libya, Israel, Yemen, and Syria, some dishes can be “hyperactive,” which Wells credits to the restaurant’s desire to impress.
Even so, chef Meir Adoni’s dishes are often wonderful — especially the couscous, what Wells says is the finest he’s had at a restaurant. Here he is on the Palestinian tartare and all of its components: “Pine nuts, tender young favas, pickled onions, slices of green chiles, broccolini florets, sumac powder and micro-sprouts are strewn over at least three sauces, including a pitch-dark and smoky eggplant purée and a very good sheep-milk yogurt. All of this flirts with chaos, but it doesn’t topple over.”
With all the ideas zinging around Nur’s menu, a few are bound to veer off in the wrong direction. The brazenly trayf gefilte shrimp, buried under pebbles of dashi jelly, doesn’t open up the way it should; both it and the jelly are too firm to melt on the tongue. A main course of octopus shimmers under a fine spice glaze, but gets wrong-footed by a jumble of sauces.
Unsurprisingly, Wells loves all the bread here too, made by Gadi Peleg, co-owner at Nur and the owner of babka house Breads Bakery. He suggests getting one of each. Two stars.