Dan Kluger’s ever-popular ABC Kitchen on 18th St has that wanderlust typical of Jean-Georges restaurants, a menu dotted with worldly flavors and international details. On top of that, the restaurant is gorgeous, set to the backdrop of an upscale home furnishing store (ABC Carpet & Home), with expansive beams of exposed rafters, clean white tables and chairs, large tabletops of funky wood slabs, a semi-open kitchen adorned with trays of fresh flowers and seasonal vegetables.
I dropped by a few months ago for lunch with a friend, and got the three-course prix fixe, which started with tuna sashimi (marinated in ginger and mint) with some diced chives and vinegar. This was as good as the first plate at Sugarfish, good (but not great) tuna with a strong acidic punch.The rest of the food took a bit to get to us, so the kitchen sent a dish of roasted kabocha squash (with fresh ricotta underneath) on toast to tide us over. There with a bit of acidity in this as well, with apple cider vinegar sprinkled somewhere. Mildly sweet, the topping a nice pillowy texture, although the bread I found a bit too tough (rustic?) for my taste.Then the other stuff arrived. A side of roasted brussels sprouts with mustard vinaigrette. I loved the vinaigrette, and the extra-browned outside crust, although the insides were overcooked to a bit too close to mushy.Housemade ricotta ravioli with a runny egg inside and pork ragu. I loved how that luxurious creamy texture was achieved in different ways – the warm ricotta, the melting egg yolk, the fatty ragu with herbacious notes ringing the edges – and how the pork was the most textured of the entire plate. And how wonderfully large this ravioli was, and how it largely held its composition even as I scooped out each cheesy spoonful. For dessert, my friend ordered chocolate gelato and I had a slice of concord grape tart with frozen sugared grapes.I love the flavor of concord grapes (it’s my preferred jelly for PB&Js, if that’s any indication. It’s probably not an indication for you, but just nod and walk away). The pastry staff concentrated that love into sugar-crusted pie form and served it to me on a plate. That’s how I felt anyway, after devouring this. ABC Kitchen (lunch menu)
35 E 18th St, New York, NY