One of my very dear friends, Archana, is moving out of New York to travel pretty much all over the world for the next year (jealous much?!). Sometimes with all the hustle and bustle of the city, I tend to forget how much of my experience is shaped by a few key people, and Arch is one of them. She’s been my go-to for all: dinner and recipe recs (I hope by now you’ve seen her food blog, LettuceVeg.com); everything TV (like ID’ing who the redhead walking around the office from The Real Housewives of New York is); movie-watching; concert-going; and lamenting about stupid boys over dessert (always over dessert). Of course, being as organized as she is, she had a whole Bucket List of restaurants she needed to go to before she leaves. Some for the first time, others for the last time. We decided we’d have a little farewell dinner at Jean-George’s ABC Kitchen, a restaurant I’ve been dying to visit myself.
The place couldn’t have been more perfect. The decor and tables are just stunning first of all. It’s dimly lit, and has the most beautiful antique fixtures like Scandinavian chandeliers and wood-top tables. Well, you might expect that since it is housed in the equally gorgeous ABC Carpet & Home department store. Another nice thing about it is the SPACE. You can stretch out and not knock the person next to you here (a rarity in New York).
The food matches the elegance in taste and presentation, with a focus on organic and locally-grown. We started with the strawberry salad. I think we might be so used to hormone-pumped fruits we get at the market, that these juicy, organic ones were such a treat. The lime offered a nice zest to it too, and I swear I tasted a little mint as well. It was beyond refreshing.
Archana also ordered one of their “house-brewed” sodas in black currant:
You can taste how natural it is, Arch pointed out, because the taste is very slight (not sugary like other sodas). Arch is a mostly-vegetarian (or “flexitarian” as she calls it), and although she’s not big on fish, she decided to try the fish for once, going straight for the black sea bass with chilies and herbs. I was STARVING from fasting all day, so I went straight for the akoushi cheeseburger with herbed may and pickled jalapenos.
The chilies were mild but she said she’s glad she went with the sea bass because the fish can sometimes be bland but the herbs gave it a nice kick. The potatoes were also a nice compliment because there wasn’t any rice or grains to go with it.
And I loved my mother of burgers. It was tasty and filling (I could only down half of it and I was full!), but it didn’t leave me with a gross heavy feeling afterwards. I appreciated the seasoned fries too (those I did finish!). Finally, being the sugar-hoarders we are, we were tripping over the dessert menu. We decided on the chocolate cake with malted chocolate ganache:
(Is food-porn allowed in Ramadan?)
I had a deadline to work on that night so I gave myself every excuse not to feel bad over ordering one of the yummiest latte’s I’ve had in a while. I drank it while ogling Archana’s Lodis wallet (how cute right??).
It was a fully satisfying meal, and it’s probably my new favorite restaurant right now. And for Arch, one more thing to cross off the Bucket List!
Can I tell you NOW how much I’m going to miss you?? Good luck with all your travels, you and Eman will be sorely missed!
35 East 18th St.
between Broadway & Park Ave.
New York, NY 10003
Occasion: Farewell dinner/crossing another restaurant off a NY bucket-list
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: *** Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous
Would I go back?: YES. The communal tables make it great for groups, but even if it’s just 2 of you, CALL IN ADVANCE.
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