ABC Kitchen - farm fresh excellence
Overall a really great dinner.
Food was absolutely fantastic. One of the best dinners we've had in a long time. J and I shared the crab toast, cured meats & cheese, bass, lobster, corn w/jalapenos, blueberry pie and decadent ice cream sundae. Would order it all again.
Everything's well prepared using ultra fresh ingredients from the adjacent Union Sq farmer's market.
Service was very good but a notch below the quality of the food. Ambiance was also very good, but also a notch below the food. Chairs are rock hard and AC wasn't up to par - especially in the front bar area. Loved the iPod soundtrack. Really great mix for a Sat evening.
Bargain pricing for the quality and freshness of what's being served makes ABC Kitchen a winner. Get there now before the masses return from their summer holiday - and while the local produce is at it's summer peak!
35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003
Had a last minute dinner here with a friend tonight in the bar area.
The spring herb soda was very interesting (mint, tarragon, thyme, rosemary too I think) but overall too sweet. Started out fine but ended up cloying. Perhaps was not stirred/shaken enough. The bartenders were using jiggers but didn't seem to be shaking any of the drinks long enough from what I saw.
The crab toast with lemon aioli was excellent. Rich and creamy aioli, very generous portion size, wonderful crab. Very high quality ingredients. I ate this very slowly to make it last longer! Would definitely order again. Delicious!
The snap pea salad, served with endives and parmesan, was excellent. Sweet and crispy snap peas cut into slivers, artfully balanced on endive leaves, and another generous serving size as well. I would definitely order this again.
We ordered roasted fiddlehead ferns (a special) with crispy spring onions. Delicious and the smallest, most tender fiddleheads I've seen. Very grassy but in a good way. Enjoyed this a lot. Not a huge portion size but really tasty and "spring"-like.
Roasted portobello mushroom with celery leaves was less good. One big mushroom cap. Felt a bit too wet in the center -- I prefer crispier, sweeter, drier mushrooms cooked in a way that really draws out the umami flavor. This wasn't it. I probably wouldn't get this again.
Our "friend chicken" main was a little crazy -- half a deboned chicken, breaded and fried, served with mashed potatoes and spicy gravy, as well as gingery sauteed bok choy. The kitchen split the entree for us onto two plates, which I always appreciate. I wanted to like the potatoes and gravy more but the gravy was a little odd. It started out spicy then turned very smoky, and had more of a barbecue sauce flavor at the end. Good but perhaps a little too strong for me. The organic fried chicken was quite good, particularly the dark meat portion, which was tender and juicy. The breast meat didn't fare quite so well but I have this problem with most fried chicken. I was starting to get full and ate as much as I could but it was too much. Once again, a very large serving size. I couldn't finish it and neither could my friend.
For dessert, their sundae was pretty great -- salted caramel ice cream, caramel corn, candied peanuts, chocolate sauce. Salty and sweet and chocolate-y. Nice contrast of flavors and textures and temperatures. I really enjoyed putting together bites of the ice cream with a nice crunchy peanut and puffy caramel corn, covered in chocolate sauce. Wonderful, and it makes perfect sense why this is their signature dessert!
We sat at one of the walk in tables at the bar area and had a short wait (no reservations available) around 6:30pm. Dining at the bar seemed to be very popular as well. The area did clear out around 9ish. Ambiance is a little odd if you're not into the ABC Carpet and Home aesthetic. It felt like we were dining in an ABC Carpet catalog the whole time with the artfully mismatched lighting (I found the pipe and lightbulb fixtures over the bar to be a bit ugly), felt covered high chairs, and "grandma" bread plates.
It also took our server a long time to notice we were ready to order, but service was fine after that, especially the busboys, who had to keep constantly reaching over us to refill our water glasses. There's very little space on the tables when you account for bread plates and the bread dish and the dishes of olive oil and salt.
Also, the tables at the bar area have VERY tall chairs. I'm a short woman and I could barely get in and out of the chair without jumping. Neither could my poor friend, who is also very short. He had to get out of his chair to retrieve something from his bag. Additionally, they don't have any hooks for bags -- neither at the bar nor at the tables for walk-ins. I tried putting my purse on the floor, but it didn't work because the table legs were connected in a sort of criss-cross pattern just under my feet. So basically there's nowhere to really rest your purse. Frustrating!
I'm looking to go to ABC Kitchen some time in the near future and am wondering if people have an opinion as to whether it is better for a weekend brunch or for dinner? Both menus appeal to me, maybe the dinner a little more than brunch, but it is (not surprisingly) easier to get a reasonable time at brunch compared to dinner.
Just looking at the menus, I'd do dinner over brunch since the Market Table section of the menu is looks so much shorter at brunch.
BTW, it's not too difficult to get a reservation for dinner at ABC Kitchen if you book 30 days in advance. I recently used OpenTable to do so and go essentially any time I wanted. I think tables open up at midnight.