I recently celebrated a birthday at ABC Kitchen. I used to walk by the restaurant every day after work and felt like I was underdressed as soon as I peeped through the window. The bar fills with trendy walk-ins as soon as dinner time strikes in Union Square.
Restaurants like ABC Kitchen often make me hot and uncomfortable. The music from Today’s Hits bounce off the wooden tables, the people at the table next to me are scanning my unacceptable outfit of the day. I feel more at ease when I’m slobbering over behemoth-sized pork butts at Momofuku Ssäm Bar or getting the tongue experience at Takashi. All these descriptions about sustainability and all organic cleaning products are making me feel like I’m at a Hampton’s (fashionable people only) climate crisis convention (seems appropriate based on the wonderful weather we’re having today).
Fortunately, all the discomfort seems to melt away as the soon as the food arrives. The shaved raw fluke appetizer packs a tingling acidic punch, giving a good impression for the other items to follow.
Ordering at restaurants is like investing in stocks. It’s extremely important to diversify to maximize the returns and minimize the risks. However, you have to take a chance and buy all the toast options on the market table menu this time. I also understand there are over 40+ options on the menu and that it doesn’t make any sense to pay for toast after getting free house bread, but the creamy chicken liver mousse and roasted kabocha squash toast are at a different level! I tried to replicate the kabocha toast recipe at home, but my concoction will never even compete with the original. The savory and sweetness of the Japanese pumpkin is on full blast after the first bite.
Kasha and bowtie pasta with veal meatballs and homemade sour cream is just as exciting. The veal is moist and vigorous, not like the mystery meatballs that plays second fiddle to overcooked pasta at many Italian-American restaurants. It makes me wonder whether the kitchen staff raised the veal themselves.
A few whole wheat pizzas couldn’t hurt. The loaded mushroom pizza with a runny farm egg in the middle is pure delight for fungi-philes. Clam pizza lovers are also in for a spicy and briny surprise.
Wood Oven Roasted Maine Lobster is the most luxurious dish on the menu, but the MVP of the night is the shimmering Roasted Suckling Pig with smoked bacon marmalade (pictured at the top). The baby pig’s meat is soft and tender and the skin reminds me of quality chicharrónes. Braised turnips and plums will offer you a reprieve from the richness of the meat, but it’s best to split your dish with two people.
Then, top off your night with sundae. Salted caramel ice cream with candied peanuts, popcorn, whipped cream and chocolate sauce reminds me of the Salted Crack Caramel from Ample Hills Creamery in Prospect Heights. Unlike the suckling pig, it is best that you never split this with two people. If this ice cream hits the stores, find me chillin’ on my bed on a Friday night, eating a tub of salted caramel ice cream and watching 30 Rock re-runs on Hulu.
Many of my friends who’ve visited ABC Kitchen talk about the wonderful ambiance and the beautiful decor of the restaurant. For me, it’s the attentive service and reassuring food that will keep me coming back. I’ve already forgotten about being too underdressed to the event. When dinner starts, it’s just me and the food.