Over the past couple of months I’ve been back in a restaurant kitchen, helping to design the menu and train the cooks at Café Nadery on West 8th Street near NYU. I’m thrilled that this week’s New York Magazine gives the café—and the menu!—a ringing endorsement.
More than just a restaurant, this is a special place with a lofty mission that pays homage to its predecessor in Tehran, Iran. The original Café Naderi was the first coffeehouse for writers and intellectuals in Iran. Think of the Parisian café Les Deux Magots, but in Tehran. Naderi still exists, but from what I hear, it doesn’t live up to its former glory, which is no surprise given the current atmosphere in Iran.
Café Nadery in Manhattan strives to carry on the legacy of the original, providing a place for Iranians and Iranian-Americans to meet and have a sense of community. It’s a safe space for intellectual, political, and cultural discourse—and raucous football match viewing parties! I was there the day that Iran won a spot in the 2014 World Cup soccer games, and the energy was absolutely ecstatic.
As for the food, the menu mixes recipes from The New Persian Kitchen with classic dishes that pay homage to the menu at Café Naderi in Tehran. You can come in and get something really healthy like the Beet Burger, or really decadent, like the Café Glace, which is a shot of espresso poured over chocolate ice cream. Or you can come in and have both! Here’s an excerpt of what New York magazine had to say about the food. Read the full article here.
New York’s Café Nadery, though, has a distinct advantage over its nominal predecessor: a menu created by Louisa Shafia, an Iranian-American chef and food writer whose latest book, The New Persian Kitchen, combines traditional Iranian recipes with her unprocessed, whole-grain, veggie-centric riffs. Shafia’s approach to her ancestral cuisine emphasizes the bounty of fresh herbs, the ubiquity of yogurt, the richness of nuts, and the sweet and tart tanginess of exotically seasoned pickles and chutneys — Iranian as you might not recognize it, health food for this locavore era.
It’s been a pleasure to work with the staff at Nadery. I had forgotten just how and thrilling and fun—and hard!—it is to open a restaurant. I’m so honored to have had a hand in opening this place. Go and support this young business, and be sure to check out the beautiful and whimsical design details by the talented graphic designer Afsoon Talai!
Café Nadery, 16 West 8th Street, New York, NY, 212 260 5407