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« Just another $52,000 Lunch at Nello... | Main | Dinner at Aurora (Williamsburg outpost) »
Wednesday
Apr142010

Dinner at ABC Kitchen

  • Cuisine: New American, small plates  
  • Atmosphere spacious, dramatic interiors, casual elegance    
  • Attire: business casual 
  • Ideal for: business dining, dates
  • Price: moderate/most menu items under $30
  • Phone: 212-475-5829
  • Reservations: via phone
  • Website: www.abckitchennyc.net
  • Location: 35 E. 18th St. (btwn Broadway and Park Avenue South)
  • Directionswww.hopstop.com/?city=newyork

*All photos from my meal can be found on Flickr

In honor of Linda's return from a six-month stint in Hong Kong, we made plans to catch up over dinner at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's newest restaurant, ABC Kitchen.

Upon entering the space that formerly housed "Lucy's Latin Kitchen," I was astonished by the interior transformation.  ABC Kitchen felt more in-line with its neighbors, ABC Carpet & Home and Pipa: stark-white walls, metallic decorative accents, exposed piping and a structured lattice wood ceiling, modern chandeliers and lighting, tables of various sizes and a large overall space.

ABC Kitchen: a view from the barABC Kitchen: dining roomBeing the perpetual "early bird," I arrived at ABC about 15-minutes shy of our 6:30pm reservation.  Despite the fact that Linda was still en-route, I asked all three of the hostesses if I could be seated since the restaurant was nearly empty.  I was told that they weren't allowed to seat incomplete parties, and that I may instead grab a stool at the bar.  Midway through enjoying my homemade basil-lime soda (sans ice, of course), Linda arrived and we were immediately led to our dinner table.  Each place setting was dressed with cardboard-bound menus and non-matching, shabby-chic silverware and floral-printed bread plates.

ABC Kitchen: le menu Upon perusing ABC's menu, Linda noticed that, on the back, there was a listing of all of the local purveyors that the restaurant uses to source its fresh meats, fish, dairy, fruit and produce.  In an effort to taste more of the menu items, Linda and I decided to split two entrees: Whole Wheat Bigoli (pasta) with a Berkshire Pork Ragu, and a whole-wheat pizza topped with black-trumpet mushrooms and a fried egg.  After the server took our order, we were presented with a basket of thick-sliced, fresh country bread, a dish of olive oil (for dipping), and a small bowl filled with magenta-pink French breakfast radishes.

ABC Kitchen: sliced bread and French breakfast radishesApproximately 15-20 minutes after we received the bread basket, our entrees arrived.  The whole wheat bigoli pasta noodles were thick and dense - our server actually informed us that they (the noodles) inherited their ample shape from being pulled through the meat grinder; the Berkshire Pork Ragu was a spicier, more robust play on traditional "red" spaghetti/Bolognese sauce - instead of ground meat, ABC's version was composed of relatively thick, chopped chunks of the prized swine;  the pasta was finished with a heavy accumulation of parmesan cheese.  Although I appreciated the fact that the noodles were homemade, I didn't feel that this type of pasta was a compatible match, in flavor and texture, to the pork ragu.  The bigoli's overwhelming density and bitter "wheat" aftertaste succeeded in unpleasantly overpowering its tomato-based sauce. 

Had it not been topped with such an abundance of black-trumpet mushrooms, the pizza would have been as close to "perfect" as a pie could be.  Luckily, my fork was all that was needed to take care of the problem!  After scooting many of the 'shrooms aside, I took my first bite of the warm pizza: the crust had a delicately charred bottom, and its (crust) weight fell precisely in between "NY style" and "cracker-thin."  Dried, almost curdled, ricotta cheese acted as a glue, of sorts, to the mound of mushrooms.  At the very center of the pie, a perfectly-cooked, sunny-side-up/fried egg took stage.  Its creamy yolk added a much-needed "sauce"component to the otherwise arid ingredients.  

ABC Kitchen: Whole Wheat Bigoli (pasta) with Berkshire Pork RaguABC Kitchen: whole wheat pizza topped with black trumpet 'shrooms and a fried eggIn the essence of sharing, Linda and I decided to split the Meyer-Lemon Merignue Tart for dessert.  Served in the form of a slice as opposed to a traditional circle, the tart was almost too statuesque to eat.  While I would have preferred the crust to be heavier instead of thin and flaky (graham cracker? nuts?), the tang of the Meyer-lemon curd was beautifully cut by the sweet and creamy merignue.

ABC Kitchen: Meyer-Lemon Merignue TartAside from a few minor flavor hiccups, I enjoyed my meal at ABC Kitchen.  Since the restaurant is brand new, I'll bet that, within a couple of month's time, the menu will be much more streamlined and successful.  Otherwise, the space is gorgeous and the prices are right.  I have my fingers crossed that ABC plans to launch a brunch service in the near future.

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