NYC: Food and the City 2, featuring ABC Kitchen and Chelsea Market

At the end of “Food and the City” part one (which is the first installment of this blog post), there were fifteen women on a food tour of the Lower East Side.  The sequel begins with the women heading to “Book of Mormon” on Broadway.  This is a show that the characters of “Sex in the City” would adore.  In fact, if this  musical was running at the same time as the SATC series, it could easily have been weaved into an episode.  It’s outrageous and wonderful! The show ends and more than half of the group heads back to DC.  The remaining six women head to ABC Kitchen for dinner.

ABC Kitchen courtesy of www.sipchatchow.com

ABC Kitchen, located in the ABC Carpet and Home Store has won many accolades, including the 2011 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, NYC.  Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is famed for his many restaurants in New York and elsewhere including Spice Market, Mercer Kitchen, Perry Street, as well as J&G Steakhouse here in DC.  ABC Kitchen is at the top of my NYC to do list and I am thrilled when I am able to snag a reservation.  It helps that we are early diners.

The decor in ABC Kitchen is, as I expected, taken right from the store.  If you haven’t been there it is a wondrous place filled with exquisite furniture and accessories that feature sustainable materials, many of which are handcrafted.  You can spend hours in there, and I have. It’s all very country-home style. It makes me wish I had a country home to decorate.

Everything in ABC Kitchen utilizes “consciously sourced materials” including the tables, chairs, tablecloths, menus, etc. etc.  Similarly the food is seasonal, organic, and locally sourced “whenever possible.”

We begin by sharing selections from the market table and appetizer sections of the menu.  This includes roasted beets with housemade yogurt, sugar snap pea salad with parmesan dressing, butter lettuce with pistachios and radishes, and a bean dish.

I know that I should be using my words to describe the unique and wonderful tastes of these dishes.  But all that comes to mind initially is “omg!”  Each dish is so fresh that it tastes like the farm is right outside the door (as opposed to a ten story carpet and home store).  The beet dish, in particular, makes others I have adored before pale in comparison. The yogurt is creamy and  piquant–a perfect accompaniment to the beets.  The butter lettuce salad is cool and sophisticated, with spicy coated pistachios and radishes that provide an added bite. We savor every bite of the bean dish which is sprinkled with cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, and edamame.

roasted beets with housemade yogurt

Three of us share a cherry pizza with bacon on a wholewheat crust.  It is served to us lukewarm.  My friend asks for a reheat. The server leaves the quickly cooling pizza and promises to bring us a hot one as well. The hot version is infinitely better. The cherry flavor is subtle. I actually would have preferred it to be more pronounced. Still, this is a unique pizza.  Two friends share a pizza with mozzarella cheese and basil, which they deem “nothing special.”  Another friend has a black sea bass with chilies and herbs, baby market potatoes and spinach, which is terrific.  We eat the sauce with a spoon when the fish is gone.

cherry pizza
black sea bass

I share an order of spaghettini with shrimp, crushed tomatoes and chili crumbs, which is split before serving.  The half size portion is plenty.  I can’t put this down.  Perfectly cooked shrimp, fresh tomatoes, and just the right amount of heat. I am loving life!

spaghettini with shrimp

After our dinner I text a friend:  amazing food at ABC Kitchen.  When she asks what we’ve eaten I reply: veggie starters, pasta, pizza, salad.  I realize immediately that this has given the wrong impression of our meal.  I add: lots of intense flavors.

The food at ABC Kitchen may be simple at first glance yet it is incredibly sophisticated in the end.  It is love at first sight for me when I see the menu, and I am elated at the execution. This is worth a visit again next year with the entire group.  Hopefully time for some shopping as well!

We head off to another night of theater but not before we make a quick stop at Magnolia Bakery, which gained popularity after being featured on an episode of “Sex in the City.” This is before the cupcake craze took hold of the nation.  It shows.  The cupcakes look ordinary, so I opt for a blondie.  Let’s just say it satisfies my craving for sweets, but nothing more.

The next morning it is 100 degrees.  We head to Chelsea Market.  I immediately spot a sign that gets my heart beating very quickly.

The Food Network offices are in the same building as Chelsea Market.  Could “Iron Chef America” be filming at this very moment? I follow the signs to the other end of the building.  There is a check-in table but no one is there.  I return later with my friends and we ask the security guard if we can possibly get in. They are filming an episode with Marc Forgione and someone from Vegas (???)  He directs us to an elevator leading to the Food Network offices.  I am holding my breath.  Will I run into Giada or Bobby Flay or Alton Brown (he’s probably downstairs in Kitchen Stadium. )  There is a security guard there as well, and I ask him if it’s possible to get in to see the taping.  He says no.  “Even if I am a very famous food blogger from Washington, DC?” I plead, obviously exaggerating greatly. He smiles. “No.”  Oh well, I tried.  It would have made for a great blog, I’m sure.

I am not so very disappointed because I spend the next couple of hours dashing through Chelsea Market sampling the most amazing things. (Although I do keep my eyes open for recognizable faces.) Here’s what I ate.

Sarabeth’s Bakery,  chocolate cupcake with meringue topping – rich and delicious

People’s Pops,  (fresh, local fruit ice pops) plum ginger – amazing flavor, ridiculously good!

Lucy’s Whey, gruyere and strawberry jam sandwich. This could go on my “Best Things I Ever Ate” list.  crunchy bread, creamy cheese, sweet jam- all perfectly in synch

Lucy’s Whey from hamptonscurbed.com

I also take home espresso and honey ginger balsamic vinegars from The Filling Station,
which are doing wonderful things to the cucumbers from my garden.

At this point it’s getting too steamy, and it is time to head home.  Three days of gorging myself in Manhattan has left me exhausted.  The girls and I will be back for more next year. In the meantime, there’s still plenty of DC to be conquered.

ABC Kitchen, 35 E 18th St, NY, NY
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 4.7 
ABC Kitchen, New York Magazine review

ABC Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Comments

  1. Robert and Robert Suggest America says:

    I hope the black sea bass was good. It's one of my favorite meals.

  2. Barbara says:

    Don't forget the kasha and bowtie pasta with veal meatballs. This is not your Bubbe's kasha varnishkas. The pasta sauce was earthy and had a rich tomato flavor, the meatballs were flavorful, and the pasta was fine, but the standout was the kasha. It was crispy and slightly nutty, and was used not as a major component of the dish but as an crunchy accent. It elevated the dish from a very nice pasta and meatball meal to something outstanding. Delicious! Great choice for our NYC trip with the girls, Lori. Thanks!

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