ABC Kitchen – New York City
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is quite a prolific chef – he has restaurants everywhere. I counted 21 on his website, located across States, and indeed the globe: New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, the Bahamas, China, France, the West Indies, and Mexico. He collaborates on a further 15 restaurants scattered even further across the globe: London, French Polynesia, Qatar and Canada, to name a few.
Alas – none of these locations are in Australia, which is a real pity because we really loved, loved, loved this restaurant. Jean Georges – please come to Australia. Preferably Melbourne – because that’s where a new legion of your fans live. Sydney got David Chang, apparently because they asked first. So, I am asking on behalf of Melbourne for you to please come and set up an ABC Kitchen in the most liveable city in the world!
Amazingly, the entrance to this fabulous restaurant is extremely understated. In fact, you could easily walk right past it. But behind this modest façade lies a restaurant of exceptional quality with an almost magical ambience that transports you a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.
As you enter the whitewashed interior, accented by dark overhead wooden beams, you are transported to a French country house, albeit an extremely large one. The first thing that mesmerises you is the exquisite crockery and cutlery, and then it’s the gorgeous fresh flowers tastefully apportioned to each table. The artwork that lines the walls is enchanting and evokes the ethereal sense of a winter forest seen through faux windows. It is both breathtaking and comforting at the same time.
We were thrilled to be there – especially because getting a booking necessitated a bit of rearranging of the itinerary. There was no chance we could get in for dinner – it’s that popular. When it became obvious that even my ninja-esque stalking of Open Table was not swift enough to book for dinner, I quickly reorganised things so we could secure a lunch booking. We were not alone – the place was packed. So, my advice to the novice – make sure you book! And book early!
There were six of us dining – so there’s a lot of food to get through. Let’s move on to the menu, because like the ambience we were transported to dining nirvana! That’s right – it’s a rare call, but ABC Kitchen is worthy.
We started by selecting drinks. While the majority opted for some sparkling, I decided a cocktail was in order. I had just spent a fortune on handbags (thanks to iMac who introduced me to the Fifth Avenue stores of Coach and Kate Spade that morning) and needed some fortification.
Basil Lime Daiquiri
Salmon Tartare toast with crème fraiche and sesame garlic crumbs
iMac, and I think Pesky M as well, ordered the Salmon Tartare which looks delicious and tasted as good as it looked. Stunning presentation, and fresh flavours.
Crab toast with lemon aioli
Gorgeous AT ordered the crab on toast. I can understand why – it was luscious and fresh, fresh, fresh.
Pretzel dusted calamari, marinara and mustard aioli
Pinot P and Lovely K shared a first course of the pretzel dusted calamari – again it looks divine and was perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Line caught tuna sashimi marinated with ginger and mint
Personally, I had the line caught tuna sashimi which was magical. Sitting plump and fresh in its marinade of ginger and mint, it was zingy and tender. Delicious.
Housemade ricotta ravioli, herbs and tomato sauce
For her main, Pesky M opted for the ricotta ravioli which was beautiful. The tomato sauce was – dare I say it again – amazingly fresh. As was the ricotta ravioli which were delicate and light.
Kasha and bowtie pasta, veal meatballs
Pinot P and iMac ordered the bowtie pasta for their second course – and I have to admit, as much as I loved my main, I had a bit of plate envy. The meatballs were tender and flavourful, and the farfalle looked amazing.
Ricotta and farm egg raviolo, pork ragu, chilies, mint and parmesan
Lovely K and I both ordered the raviolo – a single, large pasta pillow containing an egg yolk that spilled out like a creamy sauce across our pork ragu. The meat sauce had hints of chilies and mint, and the whole dish was showered with freshly grated parmesan. Delicious!
Skuna bay salmon salad with butterhead lettuce, fennel and oregano dressing
Gorgeous AT ordered this salad and was still raving about it days later. It was simple but beautiful. The salmon had been delicately poached and then set upon the perkiest of lettuce leaves, with slivers of radish and a lovely fresh dressing.
We enjoyed two beautiful wines with our meals – a pinot noir from the Willamete Valley in Oregon, and a gorgeous Chardonnay.
Now, of course, we couldn’t leave without having dessert – so at least two people ordered the signature dessert – the sundae.
Sundae – Salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn, chocolate sauce
It looked like something out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and apparently tasted just as sensational. How can you go wrong with salted caramel ice-cream?? Absolutely delicious.
Cookie plate – Lemon Drop, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Chocolate Cake Pop
We got the cookie plate because I had ordered elements off the prix fixe menu – and I had my eye on another dessert. It just made economical sense to also enjoy the cookie plate – we would essentially be paying for it anyway.
Carrot cake, cream cheese icing
What dessert did I have my eye on? Well it was this amazingly delicious and moist carrot cake with delectable cream cheese icing. It was amazing – my only complaint – the icing : cake ratio was a bit off, as I ended up with cake leftovers and no icing. It was delicious though – absolutely scrumptious and I would order it again in a second. I am partial to a bit of cream cheese icing.
Chocolate Mint Sorbet
Now, I can’t remember who ordered this – but it does seem like such a modest dessert. I didn’t get a taste of it – but this glistening blob of sorbet no doubt delivered much deliciousness.
Wow – what a place. We were absolutely filled to the brim with beautiful food presented in a stunning setting. The crazy thing was – the whole thing was ridiculously affordable. Remember – we each had three courses, and enjoyed an aperitif and wines that comprised three bottles of wine and a cocktail – and it all came to a ridiculously low $102 each. Given what we’d been spending on dinners – we were very happy. As an indication of the reasonable prices on this pretty special food – the 3 course prix fixe menu was only $32! A steal! This restaurant is amazing – and I completely understand why it’s so difficult to get a booking.
Once again – I send out my invitation to Jean-Georges. Please come to Melbourne. I would love to see an ABC Kitchen in my neighbourhood, and I know I am not alone.