Sensuous Pleasures at Nirvana
Nirvana Indian Bar & Grill is also a lounge, and probably one of the most creatively unusual restaurants I've been to. It's like a movie set of different moods and scenes. In fact, all one has to do is come in with a mood and find the room to suit it!
All paths lead to an oasis reminiscent of a Parisian nightclub with nouvelle Indian cuisine located in the heart of Beverly Hills. The rooms are exotic, especially the platform of about six beds to lie about on while sipping cocktails. And Buddha's Waterfall isn't far from the see-through glass floor over live fish, called a "riverbed," But the ultimate is their special VIP party room, glassed in and completely curtained off for $1500 a night. It accommodates up to 12 people, furnished with a day bed and floor pillows.
East Indian images and symbols of goddesses, deities and Kama Sutra rituals are depicted in stone carvings, statues and watercolors, while sexy "Bollywood" videos flash discreetly from flat panel screens. It's all very posh, playful, imaginative and intimate.
Executive Chef Ramanuj Sahai’s prestigious culinary pedigree hails from India’s legendary Bukhara Restaurant in Delhi, proclaimed by international audiences as the best Indian restaurant in the world. I believe this place is fortunate to have him and his Royal menu steeped in East Indian tradition and signature dishes.
We enjoyed the baked black Cod with honey-soy spice glaze, sided with Bharta, (eggplant) Basmati rice, and baby vegetables. Dessert might be a Mango Napoleon, with fresh mango slices and yogurt cream caramelized between filo pastry sheets of sweet mango sauce. All dinners come with a basket of Tandoor Naan (bread) and homemade Daal (lentils). Try the nuts & raisin Naan.
We were at Nirvana on a Wednesday night in a mixed crowd of all ages and ethnicities. There were three couples from the Westside relaxing on the beds, while other small groups hung out on sofas. The restaurant attracts people from all areas of LA, along with hipsters, hip-hop artists, Indian families, and the after-work film studio types. Remember the children's poem ? (a tinker, a tailer, a soldier, a sailer, etc). It's the kind of place where you can really relax, and literally take off your shoes.
Entrées get attention with the Wild Boar and Venison chops, but my favorite was a marvelous Chilean Seabass. However, you can have Charbroiled lobster tail, jumbo prawns, lamb chops or shanks; all with embellishments. It's a large menu from crab Masala to crispy Calamari, lots of chicken dishes, and chicken lettuce wraps; also a haven for vegetarians. If in doubt, order the Tandoori Sampler of assorted kebobs.
Nirvana’s signature drinks, inspired by the East Indian coast, include the Goa Sunset, a refreshing ginger, vodka, and pineapple concoction with a splash of soda. Their cooling Mango Mojito is flavored rum, ice and mint; and Pasha’s Passion is an ambrosial passion fruit, cranberry and vodka combination.
For Star Gazing, among the many celebrities there's Rod Stewart (a longtime friend of owner, Deep Sethi. He and his wife Penny Lancaster love the Sea Bass and Baked Black Cod entrees. The Tandoori Salmon is a winner.
Nirvana is a lure, attracting actors, models, and lots of birthday celebrations, as well as bridal parties. I guess you can call Nirvana diverse with its cocktail mix of Angelinos. Happy hour from 5:00pm-7:00pm. Open 7-days with late night dining. Expect a crowded scene after 10:00pm. Monday-Friday open from 5:00pm; Sat & Sun from 6:00pm. Entrée's from $18-$29. Appetizers, salads, sides, desserts, mostly under $15 to $22 for the sampler All portions are large enough to share. Certain dishes are higher priced, but at a minimum. The appetizers can be found under "Foreplay," and entrees under "Loss of Innocence," (I don't make this stuff up). www.nirvanabeverlyhills.com. 8689 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA; 310-657-5040. valet & street parking; catering; major credit cards accepted.
PS The menu has several sections, and they are all flirtatious. However, management says "sin is committed, but quickly forgiven."
Nirvana is often called the "Other Side" a State of Liberation etc.
PHOTO BY SHIRLEY FIRESTONE