Many of you know that I previously reviewed ABC Kitchen, but having tried it just a few months after opening, I have been dying to go back to taste the improvements and give its service a second chance. Thankfully, Runway Hippie’s mom was in town this Sunday and we used her AmEx rewards membership to score a last minute reservation for 5 (who knew?). And, after not seeing Sones for over a week, I was desperate to be back in her arms! At 7:30pm, the place was alive with posh couples and casually dressed middle-aged groups. I just love the feeling of the place: low lighting sets the mood for intimate conversation, while white, eclectic furniture and antique porcelain tableware amplify the energy. And the menu packs in a ton of enticing, unpretentious, sophisticated food.
As a table, we shared the mushroom, parmesan, oregano, and farm egg pizza, served piping hot. The egg ran over as a result of being undercooked, but the whole wheat crust and delicate wild mushrooms made it quite the competitive asset.
Sonia and I then shared a spinach, mushroom, and quinoa salad, which they kindly divided for us. The vinaigrette tasted too sour, but I remember this from my last meal here – Jean Georges tends to go emphasize citrus and tangy flavors. The salad was perfectly fine, but Sonia’s mom’s appetizer of pretzel dusted calamari really grew my order envy.
For my main course, I ordered simply in an attempt to detox from a weekend of fried food in New Orleans. Fortunately, that’s easy to do here as the menu offers a variety of healthy options showcasing fresh and local ingredients. My steamed cod came with no surprises – just a straightforward, well seasoned, steamed piece of fish. It was exactly what I wanted at the time, but nothing I would recommend ordering with hopes to get a true sense of the chef’s talents.
I often profess that I pretty much enjoy all food aside from mayonnaise and lamb. Mayonnaise for the obvious reasons (it’s the most fowl food on earth), and lamb because it tastes like the smell of a farm. But when Sonia’s huge lamb shank appeared, I couldn’t deny myself a taste, and I’m glad I didn’t. This lamb was as tender as duck confit, with crispy, caramelized skin and a subtly meaty flavor. I wouldn’t label myself a lamb convert, but I can admit that this dish at ABC Kitchen is a standout.
I also snagged a bite of Sonia’s mother’s bucatini with spinach, goat cheese and bread crumbs, which turned into an interesting medley of textures in my mouth. I’ve decided that crispy breadcrumbs in pasta is a great new invention and a solution to typically one dimensional noodle dishes.
Let’s be honest here. After eating pralines and beignets all weekend, I still couldn’t wait to taste a few items from the dessert menu, what I consider ABC Kitchen’s forte. I remembered the pleasure I had in eating the sundae with salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts & popcorn, whipped cream and chocolate sauce, so we ordered that in addition to the banana chip ice cream cake and the pear bread pudding. The banana ice cream cake was beautiful, but the banana flavor was a little too intense, bringing me back to my childhood of sucking on banana flavored Now and Laters. The pear bread pudding was great, but as I expected, I dominated the ice cream sundae. Generous scoops of salted caramel ice cream on decadent hot fudge sauce with crispy caramel popcorn might be one of the most genius combos I’ve tasted.
So, the thoughts about my meal being ordinary (aside from the awesome pizza) were suddenly erased with a finale of salted caramel ice cream. Though the food at ABC Kitchen may not live up to all of the hype, it’s still delicious, and a good option if you’re looking for a beautifully crafted menu, a unique, spacious setting and a toned down version of Jean-George’s typically over fancified food.
Location: 35 East 18th Street between Park and Broadway (inside ABC Home & Garden)