ABC Kitchen

Last week I got to cross one of the biggies off my list by dining at ABC Kitchen.  After reading all the reviews of one of 2010’s hottest openings, I had been dying to try.  It is connected to ABC Carpet and Home, which means it is outfitted by one of the city’s to-die-for home stores.  Instead of seeing all the blown glass chandeliers and bohemian goods that are all over Carpet and Home, we walked into ABC Kitchen to find that the atmosphere was totally farmhouse chic – white and wood, all natural.  Even the wait staff was farmhouse chic (I’m using the term again because I think I just coined it, hoping it’ll catch on) in plaid shirts and converse shoes.  Not at all stuffy, I immediately relaxed when I walked inside.

We started by splitting the roasted kabocha squash toast with fresh ricotta and apple cider vinegar.  This was definitely my favorite dish of the evening.  The squash was almost like a sweet jam.  I heard there is another even better toast (topped with crab, no less) on the menu.  It’s hard for me to imagine topping the squash, so I’m guessing I’ll have to go back and compare.  Next, we shared one of the whole wheat pizzas. It was topped with ricotta, dates, endive, and sundried tomatoes.  Another great dish.  The crust was crispy with just enough doughy give and although it may sound like a weird mix of toppings, they worked.

For the main course, my three fellow diners all ordered fish that looked great and by all accounts tasted clean and light.  There were too many things I wanted to try from the menu, so I went the two apps route.  I ordered the bucatini with broccoli rabe, goat cheese, crispy bacon, and bread crumbs.  The flavors were good and I liked the unexpected crunch from the bread crumbs, but it needed some liquid (sauce?  broth?  oil?) to tie it together and keep it from drying out and sticking together.  Though the pasta may have fallen a bit flat, the beets with balsamic over yogurt definitely redeemed it.  Once all the ingredients were mixed together, I had a bowl of sweet, creamy mess that kept my spoon coming back for more.

The dessert list is pretty extensive and it all looked good so we decided to ask the waitress for her suggestion.  Before we even finished asking, she interrupted us and told us to get the sundae.  I’m not usually an ice cream sunday gal (not big on whipped cream and nuts) but I just went with it.  This ain’t your mama’s sundae.  Salted caramel ice cream was topped with a warm, traditional fudge, chopped peanuts, a teeny bit of whipped cream, brittle, and caramel popcorn.  It was unbelievable.  I’m going to start keeping caramel popcorn in my apartment just so I can throw it on ice cream.  I may not have been super excited about this dish at first, but after trying it, you had to pry my spoon away.

The food was great and I think it tasted even better when I realized that every bit of food was sourced locally.  In fact, this whole restaurant is a locavore’s heaven.  The tables are made from reclaimed wood and the menus are printed on recycled paper and presented to diners on pieces of cardboard that are actually bits of the boxes that delivered ABC Carpet and Home inventory.  The bread plates and saucers are mismatched because they’re all vintage china, and all other dishes are made by a local potter.  Another local artist made all the artwork in the restaurant.

Not only was my meal great, I loved the casual feel and local concept.  I even noticed a great area that could be used for parties.  Not that I have a fancy party to throw; I’m just saying I noticed it.  It may not be the cheapest place on the planet, but the best items on the menu are share-able appetizers that are reasonably priced so don’t hesitate to head there with your girlfriends.

Now I know my ABCs; next time won’t you dine with me!