Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ABC Kitchen

Jean-Georges Vongerichten latest restaurant has gained much media attention recently as it won this years James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. The restaurant focuses on local, sustainable, and organic ingredients for a more farm-to-table experience. Many restaurants try to to cultivate a loving relationship between delicious food and safe environmental practices; but Chef Dan Kluger nails it. To some--ABC Kitchen might seem a bit gimmicky to critics such as New York Mag's Adam Platt, but I thought it worked! Located in ABC Carpet, the space could be defined as casually elegant. Sam Sifton (New York Times writer) describes "the notion of the place is haute organic and Hamptons sustainable" as he goes on to compare it to the second homes of the wealthy. The space is brilliantly designed from the tables and chairs to the overall airy flow of the restaurant. The design also keeps to the concept using materials from local artisans to recycled paper.

But enough with the concept and on to the food! Spontaneity brought my friend Nadine and I here for lunch, so we sat at the bar. There might have been tables available, but the bar is the best spot to eat at most restaurants--in my opinion. The bartender was strictly business as he didn't seem to chatty. He gave us his recommendations and continued on. New York has been in a ramp craze for the past week, so it was a great treat when the kitchen sent out the Ramp and Goat cheese toast ($12) as compliments. The ramp toast was followed by raw diver scallops ($16) which were garnished with mint, apple, and lime. Delicious! The apple not only added flavor, but it added a nice texture component to the dish. The mint and lime made the scallops pop without taking away its fresh, delicate flavor. The pretzel dusted calamari ($13) were good, but a little salty. The calamari came with marinara and a mustard aoili that was boring--I was looking for something better. The Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad ($14) was a good way to showcase Union Square's Green Market.

The Akaushi Burger ($22) and Over Roasted Maine Lobster ($37) were a good way to finish our savory courses. I wouldn't have usually gotten a burger, but the bartender swore by it. I'm glad I got it--it was delicious. The burger was topped with pickled jalapenos and herbed mayo. The lobster was lightly seasoned with a chili vinaigrette, oregano, and lemon. I never been to Maine, but I would imagine that this dish could make any "Maine-iac" happy.

So stuffed, we ALMOST passed on dessert; but then the bartender told us that some people come just for the sundae. The sundae ($11) was a combination of salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts/popcorn, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. This dessert was killer. I couldn't stop eating it. They also sent out a complimentary cookie plate, but I was too into the sundae to fully enjoy the cookies. Now I know why ABC Kitchen is the new hot spot. It had a great atmosphere and the food is awesome. Since the restaurant is seasonal, its exciting to see what will come on the menu next!

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