The ABC NYC Series
Jean-Georges’ ABC Kitchen, and its younger Latin American sister restaurant are are definitely on our Veggie-Friendly list for New York City. And much to our delight, a third is going to be joining them soon, which, according to reliable sources, is going to be a vegetarian/vegan restaurant! The latest on its name is something along with lines of “ABCV,” and apparently it will finally open its doors this Spring (we hope)! Both ABC Kitchen and Cocina are farm to table concepts, focusing on sustainability and fresh local ingredients only, thus many of the vegetables used are seasonal, so ABCV will be along the same lines.
Both restaurants have an earthy feel to them and are accented with beautiful chandeliers; ABC Kitchen takes a more rustic approach with light colored walls, uneven wooden pillars and branches in a few corners, with ABC Cocina leaning more towards dark and playful, with a combination of cement and dark brick walls. Both restaurants are connected to the ABC Home and Carpets Complex, so if you happen to fall in love with one of their serving dishes or chandeliers, you can go ahead and buy it! Everything from the silverware to the plates, barstools and tables are available for sale at the furniture store next door.
My first visit to ABC Cocina was for dinner when it had just opened back in May 2013, and the taste of the patatas bravas with a spicy-tangy yogurt is still etched in my brain. Needless to say, I went back and ordered them again on my next visit! On a more recent visit, I decided to try their Sunday brunch for a change.
As was suggested by our diligent and attentive waiter, my friend and I went with 2-3 plates per person, sharing style. There’s a refreshing change you notice immediately when dining out in New York; the service is noticeably better, which really makes all the difference. And unlike some of the popular restaurants in Dubai, you don’t get the feeling that they are pushing you out the door in order to turn around a table. We were served no more than 2 dishes at a time, which were appropriate spaced out and in the perfect order.
The first dishes to arrive were the grilled beets, pimento cheese with sherry and herbs and the raw shaved Brussels sprouts salad with Vermont shepherd cheese and Marcona almonds. We loved the spicy kick in the cheese, which together with the delicious sherry flavors on the beets was a great way to start the meal. The Brussels sprouts salad wasn’t quite what we expected, and dare I say a little under-seasoned, but it tasted fresh nonetheless. The quality of the vegetables is apparent in both restaurants.
The market sweet potato and smoked cherry pepper empanadas arrived shortly thereafter with a lemon scented yogurt. The empanadas were served nice and hot – the sweet potato filling was savory and smoky with just a touch of spice from the peppers, which left our mouths watering for the next dishes!
The vegan friendly sautéed mushroom tacos arrived next: it was the outstanding chocolate based mole sauce that did it for me, which together with the lime dressed kale and mixed sautéed mushrooms, resulted in a taco that blew my mind – just the effect our waiter had promised. Next, the grilled maitake mushrooms with goat cheese and fresno pepper vinaigrette had a nice pungent flavor and meaty texture, and was served with a soft layer of cheese underneath.
Last to arrive was the crunchy Mexican spiced French toast with apples from their brunch menu, a sweet and spicy ending to a wonderful meal. We appreciated the fact that they chose to serve this to us at the end of the meal, as it was appropriate as a dessert along with a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee.
While most of the reviews of ABC Kitchen rave about the infamous crab toast, I am here to tell you that the vegetarian options are just as good! The first time I discovered the restaurant was when my brother took me there back in 2011. We walked in for lunch and were told there would be a 45 minute wait for a table, but we managed to grab hold of two seats at one of their counters that were first come first served. It was love at first at the first bite of my veggie falafel burger, and I have been a regular ever since.
Four years later, even though the former Executive Chef Dan Kluger has left the building, the restaurant is still considered to be one of New York City’s hotspots. I was back for lunch yesterday, so I ordered just a couple of my seasonal favorites, as I wanted to keep it light. I started with the roasted kabocha squash toast with fresh ricotta and apple cider vinegar, which was a happy medium between sweet and savory, and very much on point.
For main course I went with the brussel sprouts pizza with garlic, jalapenos and lemon, along with a side of wood-oven roasted sunchokes with hazelnuts and herbs. The freshness of the brussel sprouts together with the bursts of flavor from the jalapeno and garlic on soft dough made for a mouthwatering pizza (thankfully, I have leftovers in my fridge). The sunchokes had a lovely mild sweetness to them, combined with a nice crunch from the candied nuts, a great veggie side which I have no doubt is enjoyed by vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.
I do love a good salted caramel ice cream sundae (especially one that has popcorn in it!), but in the interest of keeping it light, I decided to skip it this time around. From what I remember though, it’s a definite yes for the peanut lovers!
Boy, do I love the sound of this name! So whether they go with “ABC Home Grown” or the more recently rumored “ABCV”, and whether they stick with vegetarian or instead go with “vegetable forward,” only time will tell. But I’ll tell you one thing – I cannot wait to try it!
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