Recently named the James Beard ” New Restaurant of the Year 2011″, this was not an easy reservation to snag. But it was worth the effort to get a table at ABC Kitchen in New York City. It’s in the old ABC Home space and that alone is an enticement. The restaurant employs artisan, sustainable, local and recycled materials on the walls and at the table, marrying beautifully with the food on the plate.
ABC Kitchen is currently the hottest restaurant in Jean-Georges Vongerichton’s empire, with good reason. It’s an incredibly cool-looking space, with a fabulous array of lighting fixtures hung and strung throughout the restaurant. (The overall effect is quite dark, hence my pictures didn’t come out well enough to give you an accurate portrayal.) It’s also a celebrity hot spot–we saw actor Hugh Jackman and magician David Blaine chatting it up with Chef Jean-Georges.
But the food is the real star here. Though the appetizers and salads were more inventive and eye-popping than the entrees, we enjoyed all the dishes we ordered. And the presentation was marvelous.
Having read countless online reviews that the Roasted Carrot and Avocado salad was a must, we followed instructions and were not disappointed. The way the carrots were roasted brought out their sweetness in remarkable fashion which, when combined with the buttery avocado made for an unlikely but lively duo.
The tuna sashimi marinated with ginger and mint was not the best I’ve ever had, but it was silky and refreshing.
There are a number of pastas and pizzas on the menu, and tempted as I was by all of the raves I had read about the mushroom pizza with a fried egg is a real winner, we decided to go for the mozzarella and bread instead. It turned out to be a great decision, as one of the highlights of the dinner was the large bowl of warm, fresh mozzarella covered with olive oil, sprinkled with freshly grated black pepper and sea salt, and served with a spoon and awesome bread.
We also shared fresh cavatelli with guanciale, ramps, spring vegetables and pecorino. Not a complicated dish at all, but deeply satisfying. We fought each other for the last bite.
The two entrees we split were the steamed halibut with mushrooms, asparagus and topped spring onion chili vinaigrette, and black bass with chiles, herbs, spinach and potato. As I mentioned, next time I’ll skip the entrees, which were lovely but not sensational. They just couldn’t compete with the appetizers and salads. I wouldn’t resist one of those pizzas either.
I would, however, have dessert again. The same one. We ordered a sundae with caramel ice cream, fudge sauce and popcorn. Fortunately, it was a huge bowl, though the three of us managed to scrape the sides. What a stellar combination.
My only complaint about the evening is that the hard surfaces and tall ceilings result in a very loud decibel level, making it a bit problematic for easy conversation. But nothing could detract from the meal itself. It was a glowing example of how fresh is best and food need not be complicated to be delicious– culinary artistry at its finest.