Nush creates successful ethnic fusion through food and atmosphere

Fusion in any form is an art that many struggle to perfect, and the fusion of food seems to see the most failure.

Nestled modestly between Jack's Tickets and Royal Coffee Bar on College Avenue is Nush, a Euro-Persian eatery that does a surprisingly great job at the art of ethnic culinary fusion. 

Nush's space is somewhat of a hidden oasis. Its outdoor patio is shady and well-decorated, giving it the feel of European eateries that warmly invite visitors without screaming for attention from the street. The indoor and outdoor spaces combine in a balanced manner that gives the restaurant a distinct culture of its own.

My lunch date and I sampled a few of the restaurant's naturally flavored local iced teas before our meal, mutually agreeing that the pomegranate green was our favorite. 

Pomegranate, we would come to find out, is a recurring character on Nush's menu, making even the most inconspicuous of appearances on many of its appetizers, entrées and desserts.

Nush is located at 560 S College Ave in Tempe, and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Nearly every item on its menu is either vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free or a combination, making it a safe, delicious space for those with dietary sensitivities. The only exceptions are the cutlet appetizer and "heavenly halawa."

A notable and popular appetizer is the plate of Nush fries, which is served with a side of exquisite yogurt mint dip. The potatoes are simply elite. They have all the qualities of ideal fries: freshly-cut, of medium thickness and possessing a beautiful mix of fresh crispiness and softness. They are dusted with herbs and garlic and even include an unsurprising cameo by pomegranate seeds.

The list of entrees is eccentric, though I still don't understand why "Seriously Bro" is the title of the entrées menu.  It's a very short list, but still offers dishes ranging from linguine to wraps. The restaurant's portions are generous but very manageable; not too little, not too much. 

The skewers platter is one of its most popular dishes, and for good reason. It comes with three skewers and the option of beef, chicken or vegetables on each. Although each skewer is well-prepared and fresh on its own, the flavors are beautifully magnified when wrapped in an herb leaf and dipped in yogurt mint dip. 

Another notable item is the red chicken wrap, which consists of basmati rice, chicken, vegetables and Nona's red sauce (named after Nush's owner), all wrapped in a sun-dried tomato tortilla. As with other dishes, the flavors blend well together and create a sufficiently hearty meal despite the light ingredients. As a bonus, the vaguely salad-esque blend of vegetables on the side is sprinkled with a few more pomegranate seeds.  

The patio is great for a breezy weekend lunch, although the indoor ambience was no less special. There's also a bar inside, which makes it a really unique spot to grab a drink or two and some interesting appetizers. 

The space itself is a pretty even fusion in terms of blending the European layout with the Persian-style decor; the food, on the other hand, feel like more of a Persian twist on Western classics, depending on how you look at it. 

Nonetheless, the blend is exquisite, and those whose taste buds are looking for a good time should certainly give this place a whirl. 

Tell the reporter your favorite way to use pomegranates at celina.jimenez@asu.edu or on Twitter @lina_lauren.

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