I tried all the regular means to get a table at ABC Kitchen, the new restaurant by Jean Georges. Opentable.com. Calling. Well, I only tried a few times. I thought I should get special treatment since I spend so much money at ABC Home, the store where the restaurant resides. But no. I had to politely beg a friend who knew someone who knew someone and voila! A miraculous 6:30 reservation on a busy weeknight.
Here’s why it’s worth the wait: three words: Whole Wheat Pizza. (Is that two or three? Doesn’t really matter because it’s really, really good and I had been searching and longing for years for a good clean thin and crispy whole-wheat pizza crust in Manhattan—or anywhere for that matter.)
But get this people, ABC Kitchen, arguably one of the hottest new restaurants in the world capital of hot restaurants (or so New Yorkers like to believe)—and voted 2011 best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation has this descriptor up front loud and clear:
Passionately committed to offering the freshest organic and local ingredients possible.
Sigh. Just let me soak it in and enjoy this moment for a minute will ya?!
When I ordered the desert, I asked if the strawberries were organic and the waiter broke into a beaming, euphoric smile and said with utmost confidence, “Yes!” And it was, I must say, the best strawberry dessert I’ve ever had. Strawberries of all sizes, big, tiny—red all the way through bursting with flavor, accompanied by teeny tiny meringue crunchy stars. And swimming in macerated strawberry juices. And I think it was poppyseed sorbet, but frankly, who cares, because the strawberries were just perfect. It was a testament to the fact that when the ingredients are perfect, you don’t need to do much else to make it good.
I confess, I do think my fried chicken is better than his. It was good—don’t get me wrong—but I wouldn’t order it again…partly because there are so many other things on the menu I am dying to try—the pastas, the burger, the veggies, the sides. Actually, they never did deliver the side dish of corn and manchego cheese. I’m still hit by pangs of sadness that I didn’t get to try it even though I was stuffed, I tell you, stuffed!
I’ll just have to go back. What’s great about ABC Kitchen (kind of like all kitchens, including mine) is that it’s comfortable, casual and the center of all the action. It’s the place you just want to be. Even the sommelier was interesting, revealing to me that his totem was an Egret. I don’t drink. But I believe in totems (although I’m still trying to figure out what mine is).
The world is changing for the better, I believe. And ABC Kitchen is a testament to that change. Go there if you can.