This fall brought the launch of prolific East Village restaurateur Ravi DeRossi’s newest vegetable-forward venture, Night Music. Like his previous projects Honeybee’s (a vegan barbecue joint with rye and bourbon cocktails) and Ladybird (an elegant wine and veggie tapas spot), Night Music serves on-trend drinks alongside delicious food that just happens to be plant-based. The restaurant, which bills itself as an “exotic vegetable bar,” is inspired by the food DeRossi ate growing up in an Indian family.
To create Night Music’s menu, chef Spencer Caine visited DeRossi’s mother, Sharmilla Lalchandani, for a crash course on her recipes. The two then developed vegan adaptations together. As Lalchandani’s recipes were already vegetarian, their changes largely involved replacing ghee—a crucial ingredient in naan and other dishes—with plant-based butters and oils. Night Music’s vegan naan, along with spiced koki, (wheat flatbread), and aloo paratha (stuffed potato bread), accompanies the house chutney and spreads: (vegan) raita, chickpea avocado chole, plus yellow lentil spread with mango pickle. The small plates are the star attraction, particularly the pani puri—hollow pastry puffs you fill with water infused with cilantro and chili for a crunchy, cool-yet-spicy bite. DeRossi also includes the usual suspects like samosas and pakoras, alongside new creations like maitake buns with vindaloo aioli and brussels sprouts saag.
Like the food, the cocktail menu by Jane Danger updates seasonally and focuses on balancing sweet, sour, and salty flavors. All the drinks are vermouth-based, from the fiery Pepper Pita, with punt e mes and agave tamarind, to the sweeter, floral Nightbird (Lillet Rose, hibiscus, juniper cordial). Night Music also serves a range of Indian beers, a carefully curated selection of red, white, orange, and sparkling wines, and punchbowl cocktails for a crowd—the perfect accompaniment to a spread of small plates.
The premises, featuring deep red velvet sofas and a dark blue resin and wood bar, make for a calming respite from glaring city sights and sounds. It’s a place for vegans and omnivores to linger, enjoying DeRossi and Caine’s ode to the endless culinary capacities of plants.