My meal at ABC Kitchen did not disappoint, so I had high hopes for ABC Cocina, the latest and greatest restaurant from the group. I am happy to report that Jean-Georges has done it again. And I should know because I ate half the menu.
We started with two of the waiter’s recommendations, the spring pea guacamole and the cured salmon with yogurt and crispy potato strips. He has been at the restaurant since it opened a year ago so he has tried everything they have to offer and was able to point us in the right direction. One bite of the guac and we knew he would not lead us astray. He became our ABC Cocina spirit guide.
The guac was still primarily avocado, but small touches like pea shoots and sunflower seeds made it better without alienating guacamole purists. The salmon was also wonderful. Not too salty and the extra yogurt was a great dip for the leftover tortilla chips. Our spirit guide next told us to order the shrimp in “agua diablo”. It was a spicy ceviche style dish with the most interesting addition of banana. It’s just such a crazy pairing that it works (I think because it was just a touch of banana). For our next dish we went with something our waiter did not directly point out – how dare we! Thankfully, the calamari with ancho chili glaze (not pictured) was still a winner for our table. That’s definitely because the glaze had something like blackberries in it. It didn’t drench the squid and was enough to make a believer out of me, a gal who prefers not to order calamari as often since it’s served just about everywhere. Back on track with our waiter’s recos we ordered the arroz con pollo, served family style like paella. It takes 40 minutes to prepare so I suggest you put your order in when you sit down because it is the perfect dish to break up all the other tapas items. The next round of dishes consisted of tacos (crispy fish and short rib – not pictured) and asparagus. All were delicious though the asparagus felt a bit small. I also thought the short rib tacos had some extra unnecessary spice. For dessert the waiter told us not to order the “impossible” flan, as intrigued as I was. He said it was the worst one on the menu and instead suggested the vanilla fritters and rice pudding. He had been right throughout the whole meal so we stuck with him for dessert. I didn’t think the fritters were anything special (like a more liquid profiterole), but the rice pudding with raspberry preserves and (I think) candied orange peel was great. I was pretty shocked by how much I liked it since I’m not really a rice pudding person. I think I said the same thing about ABC Kitchen’s sundae so I continue to be surprised by the ABC desserts. Surprise is almost always a good thing when it comes to dining.