Many years ago in Tehran – in the good old days when one could enjoy perfectly-stored Premiers Crus and the best vodka to go with the Beluga – connoisseur expats would head to a shabby hole-in-the-wall for the freshest eggs served by the oldest of John Cleese-type waiters. Nowadays cheap-chic is in in all the world’s gastronomic capitals, including Copenhagen, Sydney and Tel Aviv. The knowledgeable in New York head for ABC Kitchen.
One of the gal’s most charismatic New York friends, born and resident in the Big Apple, says ABC Kitchen is his favourite of all Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants. Starting from a one-room eating place on East 18 Street – reached by a barely-signposted and unexciting door – that one restaurant now leads to another and another, and eventually out to East 19th Street. Along the way there is a lot of distressed wall and ceiling ‘art’ and bare floors and tables, with some clever highlights, say a waist-high long table just inside the East 19th Street entrance, that you can dine off, drink off or merely lounge against while waiting for friends.
The sensationalism comes with the food, that is daily changing, and sometimes even grown here on the roof. In the ABC-V room, for instance, that day’s dishes included the sensational cauliflower shown above, available half or whole ($14 or $23), with turmeric-tahini and pistachios. As a side, half an avocado came skinned, sliced and drizzled with serrano and lime, for a mere $5. I also know, from a beautifully illustrated card that came inside the menu, that the avocado enriches microbiome with free radical fighting vitamin E, folate, potassium, magnesium and soluble dietary fibre – plus heart-loving good fats to balance blood sugar and help maintain a healthy weight. Is it any wonder every one of these ABC Kitchen rooms is packed out? Luxury hotels, take note.