I went to ABC Kitchen for lunch recently and am approaching double-digit territory in terms of how many times I have returned to the restaurant. I am not one to typically repeat restaurant visits this often since there is so much ground to cover in NYC, but there is something about this Jean Georges staple that keeps me coming back for more. At this point, I have sampled most of the dishes and have seen many iterations of the menu. They keep the classics and surprise every time with a few new selections from which to choose. I can say with a high degree of confidence that it is difficult to go wrong there. I usually find it extremely tough to come out and say I have “favorite” restaurants in this City because of the plethora of offerings, but ABC Kitchen has been a steady stand-by for the past two years and it goes beyond just the good food.
Forget the food for a minute and let’s talk about the decor, ambiance and overall atmosphere of the restaurant. In my opinion, this is half of ABC Kitchen’s allure. Unlike many other restaurants by celebrity chefs, Jean Georges’ ABC Kitchen does a great job creating an unpretentious, inviting and relaxing atmosphere in this Flatiron endeavor. Yes, you will probably need to think ahead, call at the exact time the reservation line opens (or be logged in to OpenTable) and reserve a table 30 days forward to ensure you can enjoy such a place, but it’s worth it . You’ll see why once you’ve eaten there once. … And if you don’t please feel free to leave angry comments below this post. The dining room was nicely designed and feels as though you are eating in an elegant farmhouse. I am pretty sure a decent amount of decor comes from neighboring ABC Carpet and Home. The walls are white lined with black-and-white photographs and wooden beams protrude from the ceiling. The white tables are adorn with small but poignant details of decor such as: dainty glass vases of fresh flowers placed atop the table or the display of sea salt so delicately dispersed in a white seashell. The staff members brighten the room with their colorful plaid button-down flannels, and I have yet to be served by someone who was not friendly or engaging. When I first started dining here, there was a young man working as a waiter who was simply a doll. He was well-versed in the menu, could give me a suggestion and never be wrong, and was overall very amiable. He was my server – by request – for my first five visits to ABC Kitchen. He always remembered me and treated the table extremely well. I would go so far as to say that he can be credited with a part of the reason I continue to return to ABC Kitchen. It’s too bad he left last year to pursue other interests, but I have returned since and continue to have great customer service experiences.
The whole mantra at ABC Kitchen is “local, organic, home” and the restaurant embodies all three of these characteristics. It’s not super hokey or “granola” either. Just good food with the most locally and organically grown ingredients as possible in a homey dining room. Now that I have gone on a bit about the overall feel of the restaurant we can move onto the menu. I have now sampled a majority of each menu offered at ABC Kitchen – brunch, lunch and dinner. Instead of giving a very descriptive rundown of every meal consumed there I decided to provide my own ABC Kitchen “must try” list. Starting off with brunch, the French Toast is delicious and the Eggs Benedict is a solid version of this classic brunch fare. Lunch/Dinner items of note are as follows: The Crab Toast with Lemon Aioli, Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad, Pretzel Dusted Calamari, Clam Pizza, Wood-Oven Roasted Maine Lobster, Akaushi Cheeseburger (I have not sampled this but my sister gave her stamp of approval and I trust her judgment), Chocolate Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Icing and the Ice Cream Sundae. These are my time-tested favorites from each menu, but there’s plenty more to choose from. I would, however, suggest having at least one of the above-mentioned choices make it to your table. Additionally, if you are there for lunch there is a tiny secret treat I would highly recommend asking your server about – Chocolate Ganache Cake Pops. I only recently discovered these hidden gems, but they are delicious and a perfect way to end a meal if you’re not in the mood for a heavy dessert. It continues to baffle me that these have not made it on to the main dessert menu, but just nudge your server and say you know they exist. … I am sure one or two little “pops” will readily appear at your table. To supplement the food, don’t leave without trying a cocktail or fresh juice. The Ginger Margarita and Vermont Gold Vodka Thyme Lemonade are killer (in the best possible sense of the word).
I’ve been to ABC Kitchen for a whole host of occasions – girls brunch, a lunch to catch up with my sister, birthday celebrations, a date and work function. You can really make the restaurant fit any event. I make up different excuses to go there all the time. So if you have yet to test the waters here, pick an occasion (30 days forward) and enjoy a meal at ABC Kitchen for yourself. I do not think you’ll be disappointed for taking my advice on this one.
ABC Kitchen, 35 E. 18th Street, NY, NY, 10003. Phone: (212) 475-5829.
When To Book: ABC Kitchen accepts reservations on OpenTable and by phone. For dinner I highly suggest planning in advance and reserving a table 30 days prior. You may get lucky and a spot could open up last minute, but that’s often not the case. Brunch/Lunch can be a little less planned depending on timing. The restaurant is also open to walk-ins and the bar is first-come first-serve.