June 8, 2010

Naturally Chic: ABC Kitchen

Roast Carrot & Avocado Salad

Peekytoe Crab Toast

Heavenly Sundae

ABC Kitchen is the antithesis of what to expect from an organic restaurant and also a fine example of what it could be. Last Friday, I enjoyed a fantastic dinner there with my fashionista friends: Hg, Ct, and Aj. As each of us took turns diving into the warm roast carrot & avocado salad and buttery peekytoe crab toast, a continuous chorus of "MMMMmmmMMmmMm's" echoed around the table. Despite our delight with the food and drinks—the ultra refreshing basil lime daiquiri is a must-try—we paid little mind to the real magic behind the kitchen doors. More pics, dinner details and Renegade Craft Fair finds on the next page!

Roasted Beet Salad w/ Homemade Yogurt

You typically wouldn't associate the words "sexy" and "organic" together, but at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's ABC Kitchen, they go hand in hand effortlessly. For example, the pic above is of a vibrant assortment of roasted beets perched atop a hidden pillow of pleasantly tart homemade yogurt. The rounded, sugary flavor of the beets complimented the acidic yogurt marvelously.

Through precise and purposeful choices in plating, colors, texture and taste, ABC Kitchen gave the Plain Jane veggie medley a seductive Scarlett Johansson makeover. I was happy to discover that the beauty wasn't merely just skin deep; JGV has installed eco-friendly and sustainable practices throughout the restaurant—from energy efficient LED lighting to soy-based pesticide-free candles.


On the back of the clipboard menu lied a page-long doctrine about ABC Kitchen's standards and commitment to fresh, local ingredients and sustainable business practices. According to Zagat...
"[Jean-Georges Vongerichten] is leading a push to create an official certification for sustainable restaurants. While there are programs like the National Restaurant Association’s Greener Restaurants, which helps eateries become eco-friendly, and a certification within the Green Restaurant Association, there is currently no industry standard." -- Zagat Buzz
I haven't encountered any restaurants that are so upfront with their sustainability practices, but I am glad that ABC Kitchen is setting the bar for newcomers. It will only get better from here... now back to the dinner.

We finished the appetizer round with a generous plate of pretzel dusted calamari, which had just the slightest twinge of pretzel flavor, and crispy soft shell crab. Both of these dishes were delicious, but nothing out of the ordinary. Unless if you're a soft shell crab addict, I would definitely pick something else more adventurous.

Chili-Herbed Black Sea Bass

For the main course, Aj and Ct both ordered the Black Sea Bass with Chilis and Herbs, Red Bliss Potatoes and Spinach. The lemon confit cubes added a splash of citrusy freshness to each heavenly flake of fish. While I'm partial to steamed sea bass, I had trouble stopping at just one bite. Hg ordered the Pork Milanese (without knowing what she was getting herself into) with Heirloom Tomatoes, Aged Balsamic and Nepitella, and I had a small bowl of Kasha and Bowtie Pasta with Veal Meatballs.

Kasha and Bowtie Pasta with Veal Meatballs

After the slew of decadent appetizers, I was very grateful that I opted for the smaller (cereal bowl-sized) portion of pasta. I loved the play on textures between the chewy bowtie pasta and the crunchy kasha beads.

Fresh Strawberries w/ Poppyseed Icecream and dollops of Meringue

At the conclusion of our meal, we were presented with two large basins of dessert.

The first dessert was a bed of market strawberries & juice with sour cream-poppy seed sorbet, mint, lime and little meringue drops. The crisp, air-light meringue danced casually around the quenelle of poppy seed icecream like baby chicks around a mother hen. It's light and easy to eat, making it an ideal summer dessert for sharing.

The second dessert, more sinful in nature, (pic at top of post) was a triple scoop sundae that was comprised of salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts & popcorn, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and a delicate cookie reef sail.

Not surprisingly, the chorus of "MMMMmmmMMmmMm's" returned.

What to order | While ABC Kitchen's menu changes periodically, try to get these when you can:
- Roast beets with homemade yogurt
- Roast carrot and avocado salad
- Peekytoe crab toast
- Black sea bass with chilies and herbs
- Market strawberries and juice

Later on Sunday, inspired by the DIY-to-chic ambiance of ABC Kitchen, I ventured over to McCarren Park in Brooklyn with the same trio of ladies in search for our own handmade trinkets. The 5th annual Renegade Craft Fair, a.k.a. Epic Etsy Trade Show brought out hundreds of young New York artisans and their charming wares. Designers exhibited jewelry, prints, furry hats, furniture, ceramics, knit wear, leather goods, kids toys, and more.

If you have ambitions to start your own sustainable restaurant or just want to decorate your home, check out some of these great handmade finds!

chez sucre chez : hand-embroidered anchor hand/tea/dish towel (navy with white stitching) -- $15

Daina Ceramics : avocado salt & pepper shaker -- $40

clamlab : cacao bowl set -- $52

Michiko Shimada : vita vase (set of 4) -- $100

Click for more pics!


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