The other week I took a quick trip to ABC Kitchen for the very first time. Please hold your WHAT-TOOK-YOU-SO-LONG's, as I honestly don't have a good answer. Finally, an opportunity presented itself and I was able to squeak out of work on time AND snag a choice spot at their bar.
I was flying solo for this adventure, and I generally like the experience of dining out alone. I can concentrate on the food a bit more (I find John's constant chatter about his hair distracting at times). The only drawback is that I sample fewer dishes. Consequently, this will be a mini-review. (As an aside, I suppose I could have ordered an 8 course meal all to myself while sitting at the bar, simultaneously sipping all their drinks, but that would probably have attracted a lot of unnecessary attention).
First, a word about the ambiance. ABC Kitchen is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. I couldn't stop looking around me. The style of the first floor of ABC Carpet & Home has been organized into a restaurant with fantastic results. The weathered wood rafters are offset by textured and pristine white walls, while intricate light fixtures dangle delicately from above to create some impressive mood lighting (that is extremely bad for food photography in the evening).
The menu is organized into the usual categories (such as appetizers and entrees) but also includes a Market Table section, which is ABC's version of a small plates selection. I decided to order from this list and chose the following:
The Crab toast with lemon aioli: The quote I got from the bartender/waiter on this dish was, "This is my favorite thing on the menu, and I don't like crab." SOLD!
Crispy delicata squash, maple syrup and grated goat cheese: I didn't actually need a hard-sell on this one, but I was waffling between this and some other choices, so to throw me back into the squash camp, my waiter said, "This dish has everything: salty, sweet - with a little drizzle of maple syrup and tang from the cheese."
I also ordered a basil ginger fizzy drink that was exceptionally refreshing, even in the wintertime.
Photo by Amy Cao, AmyBlogsChow.com
The Crab Toasts arrived: four chunky slices of just-browned sourdough with fresh, white mounds of crab meat piled on top. The crab meat itself was incredibly mild-flavored, with just a hint of sweetness. The large chunks (as opposed to stringy shreds) of meat allowed me to really sink my teeth into this one. And the lemon aioli provided just a hint of tang, which you could augment by squeezing some of extra lemon wedges provided along side. It was an incredibly light dish that I could envision passing around at a summer BBQ (stand by for test kitchen experiments on this one).
I left no crab behind, and was subsequently greeted by my new love: crispy delicata squash. A light drizzle of maple syrup served as the stage for bangle-bracelet-sized squash rings ensconced in a fine, crispy shell. The grated goat cheese provided just a touch of smooth, creamy saltiness, making this an achievement in both texture and flavor combination.
Like I said, I was in love. I glanced sideways to see if anyone would notice me licking my plate. Finally deciding that would be bad form, I settled for tweeting out to the world, "I am in love with a squash." I think that was my most popular tweet ever, judging by the responses. People wanted details (which I gladly gave them), and one even requested to know the name of my love, the squash. This last request left me feeling a little cheap: I never asked it's name. I was waaaay too involved it dragging it's delicate fry overcoat through the syrup and then adorning it with tiny crumbles of cheese before devouring it.
Well, this just means one thing: I will need to go back. Hopefully it'll give me a second chance. And a third...
Oh, and if you want to follow us on Twitter so you can continue to hear about the squash love affair (why wouldn't you?) you can do that here.
*Photo of dining room from nymag.com (I put it in that fancy floral background, which is an illuminated piece of art outside ABC Kitchen).
Overall Experience: The Godfather - The Perfect Game