(Testo italiano) Adjectives like local, seasonal, organic and sustainable have become so overused in NYC’s dining lexicon that they risk losing their meaning altogether. Too often asserted as absolute synonyms of quality, they have been morphed into part of an elaborate caraciture, rather than the markers of a meaningful food movement. Fortunately, there are some places in NYC that live up to the promise of their description. ABC Kitchen, Jean Georges Vongerichten’s farm-to-table, which employs (mostly) local, seasonal, organic, and sustainable ingredients, is one such place.
ABC Kitchen is located on E18th Street on the ground floor of the massive and iconic ABC Carpet & Home, a 10-storey home furnishings store. The restaurant’s interior design is tree-house kitsch, with lots of exposed natural wood, vines, and decorative arrangements made from tree branches.
The restaurant is located just four blocks north of the Union Square Greenmarket, a favorite shopping destination for locals and chefs alike. Indeed, you will find several vendors’ goods have made their way onto ABC’s menu. Cato Corner Farm cheese graces the cheese plate and tops the burger. Martin’s Pretzels are offered up as bar snacks or ground up for breading the fried calamari. Flying Pig Farms supplies the restaurant’s pork and chicken.
The menu, which changes regularly, is the work of executive chef Dan Kluger. It is broken down into sections, including “market table”, “appetizers”, “pastas”, “whole wheat pizzas”, “entrees” and “sides”. I suggest giving the pastas and pizzas a pass—there are far better places in NYC for both—and starting with a number of plates from the market table.
The toasts, thick slices of toasted bread with various toppings, are particularly appealing. The roasted kabocha squash with fresh ricotta and apple cider vinegar was luscious, the consistency, richness, and sweetness of the squash evoking the best Sicilian caponatas. The crab toast, sweet meat lightly dressed in lemon aioli, and chicken liver toast spread with a thick and flavorful pate’, are also excellent.
The highlights of the appetizer menu are all raw dishes, each of which plays up the flavor of its fish with perfectly paired but not overly intrusive seasoning. Try the raw Maine diver scallop with chilies, dill, and mint, the fluke sashimi with black truffles, or the line caught tuna sashimi marinated with ginger and mint.
The entrees also put a heavy focus on fish. The slowly cooked artic char with sweet and sour carrot sauce was exceptional and the wood oven roasted Maine lobster with oregano and lemon chili vinaigrette is an affordable luxury. The most unique dish is the Akaushi cheeseburger. Its beef is sourced from Heart Brand Beef . The Texas based purveyor is the only one in the US that rears this variety of Japanese cattle.
The wine list meanders over two continents, and 90% of the Old and New World selections are organic, sustainable or biodynamic. The beer list, on the other hand, is firmly rooted in the northeast, with several bottles from New York State like Fire Island Red Wagon IPA (Ocean Beach), Southampton Altbier (Southhampton) and Ommegang Rare Vos (Cooperstown).
Save room for dessert by pastry chef Cindy Bearman. The sundae, a rich mix of salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce is second only to the glazed donuts, simple and delicious.
ABC Kitchen 35 E18th St. New York, NY 10003. Tel. 212-475-5829
Foto: abchome.com, grownyc.org, travelmodus.com, keepercollection.com, gastrochic.com, heartbrandbeef.com, islamagica3.eg.vg