When Meir Adoni opened his restaurant Nur in New York in April, quite a few eyebrows were raised. Comments were made like "not everything that succeeds in Israel will make it in New York." Now, with long lines and weeks-long waiting lists – not to mention Gordon Ramsay's swooning – Adoni appears to be on the right track.
If any more proof was needed, a New York Times restaurant review provided it, giving the restaurant two stars, which means "very good." The critic, Pete Wells, has his criticisms, but says "the plates have energy."
"Running a new restaurant in New York tends to be more than a half-time job," critic Wells notes, after listing Adoni's various occupations, but continues with a compliment: "And yet Nur doesn't have the lethargy and mechanical quality of a kitchen run by remote control. The plates have energy. At times, in fact, they don't know when to quit."
Wells also wrote that "the sauces and powders and garnishes proliferate so quickly that it’s hard to keep count," but "the hyperactivity of certain dishes probably comes from a desire to impress."
It was actually "the quieter plates" that were "just as remarkable, sometimes more so," Wells wrote, singling out, for example the seafood stew and the chraime, a Moroccan fish dish in spicy tomato sauce. Wells also complimented the bread, which comes from Breads, the New York incarnation of Tel Aviv's Lehamim bakery. Wells recommended ordering all three of the breads on the menu, which are baked to Adoni's specifications.
After tasting the Palestinian tartare, which Wells said "flirts with chaos, but it doesn’t topple over," the newspaper's critic directed his attention to the couscous, which he said "has to be the finest couscous I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant." It was "sweet, spicy and terrific."
Following this rave, Wells wrapped up his review expressing the hope that Adoni, who has said he would like to open a second restaurant in New York, will make it North African, suggesting that its entire menu could be built around couscous. "Time Out New York" magazine, which rated Nur four out of five stars, said "the fluffy-as-a-cloud fine-grain couscous on the side is worth the order alone."
Noting that Adoni would like to make the menu at the future location kosher, Wells declared: "If he can use ingredients as vibrant as those at Nur, and keep the prices from soaring out the window, it would be a real achievement."
When it comes to the service, Wells called it "familiar," noting that the server was "opinionated about the menu" and that most of the views were positive. With regard to the premises themselves, he said handicap access was lacking and the acoustics are "like a cocktail party in a studio apartment after the third round of martinis."
"The place looks and acts, in other words, like a New York restaurant. It sounds like one, too, when all the seats are taken and raised voices start careening off the ceiling," but Wells adds that the bar is "relatively quiet and not a bad place to eat if you want to have a conversation."
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