Fans of this blog know of my deep admiration for ABC Kitchen (and frustration for their 30-day-in-advance dinner reservation policy–I lead a dangerous and exciting life. I have no idea where I will be in 30 days. Chartering a yacht off the coast of France? Skydiving in Africa? Deep sea scuba exploring in Maui? Or, more likely, stuck at work with a deadline and unable to adhere to reservations made a full month prior). Last week, thanks to a gift certificate from the boyfriend’s parents and some nimble-fingered OpenTable-ing, we finally got to see what all the fuss was about with 9PM reservations at my unicorn restaurant (for the definition of “unicorn restaurant,” please click here. For purposes of amusement, please enjoy that the term unicorn was initially coined by my friends in college to describe magical, mystical, male creatures of the same nature).
[ABC Kitchen Dining Room–The NY Times describes the decor as “spiritually materialistic,” to which I would like to say kudos, and add, “I would like to move in”. Image via SipChatChow (great girly food blog)]
Within 5 minutes of our arrival at ABC Kitchen, I found myself face to face with Jessica Alba in the bar area. This is not a euphemism for someone who was really hot and looked like Jessica Alba–this was the mother of Honor and Haven herself (Yessica–you are a smokeshow, but must you give your children such frustratingly cliche and tacky monikers?). Some Twitter-stalking confirmed that yes, this perfectly tan vision in white was indeed Ms. Alba. We made eye contact for somewhere between five minutes and two seconds (the boy maintains she “looked him up and down”), and then, alas, she disappeared. Needless to say, had we been served lumps of coal after this encounter we would have left happy (hey, free dinner + A-list celeb? Lumps of coal are nothing to scoff at). Luckily, we were instead served lumps (and heaps, and purees, and dollops) of decadence and joy.
[Crab toast with lemon aioli. This was the first dish to come out, and our second favorite overall. You may notice this photo has been Instagrammed. This is not because I am trying to be trendy, but rather because the man-friend, frustrating little bugger he is, refused to let me turn on my flash, commenting (correctly) that it would ruin the romantically chill ambiance in the restaurant. More on the ambiance later, but the crab toast was delicious and a perfect-sized morsel to hold us over till more substantial food arrived. Once weather gets lovely again (WEATHER. GET LOVELY AGAIN, I would love nothing more than to enjoy this crab toast and a glass of Pinot Grig every single night]
[Warm fresh mozarella with olive oil, sea salt & black pepper. We ordered this because, well, duh–warm. fresh. mozarella. And it was okay. A bit salty for both our likings, but we devoured it anyway. I regret not ordering the chicken and pork sausage instead]
[Whole wheat pizza with mushrooms, parmesan, oregano, and farm egg. We had been told to order a pizza at ABC Kitchen, and I am so glad we chose this one. I discovered at my favorite restaurant in DC, Graffiato (Mike Isabella’s joint–would you believe that every time we dined there we got to chat with the chef himself? Once we took shots together. Best night ever.) that pizza with an egg on it, though it sounds gross, is actually delicious. I loved this version from ABC Kitchen. The boy, who is particular about cheese, did not. This proved fine, since I was perfectly capable of consuming 3 out of 4 slices myself. I will say that the Graffiato version of this was one tiny teeny blonde highlighted hair better (less runny egg, more cheese) but I found this unusual ‘za delicious nonetheless]
[Pretzel-dusted calamari with marinara and mustard aoli. These were calamari. Whatever. The pretzel-dusting added a sweet kick. Onto more important things…]
[The main course–roast suckling pig, served with plum and smoked bacon marmalade. This was truly the piece de resistance–the pig was absolutely perfect. I think it actually moved straight to my stomach from my mouth without swallowing, that’s how seamlessly (and rapidly) it melted. The plum and smoked bacon marmalade was exactly as delicious as it sounds. Furthermore, the waitress asked the kitchen to split this up for us, which is always nice, and results in more pig in my mouth/less pig on the tablecloth]
[Mashed potatoes with sea salt and brussel sprouts on the house. I love when a restaurant shows small ways of appreciating your business, like complimentary sides. I also love a waitress that takes notice of how much wine I have consumed and thinks, quick, get this girl some carbs. If I had consumed nothing but the mashed potatoes at this meal I would have left happy–never have I ever tasted anything creamier and more hearty than this bowl of perfection. Stuffed to the brim, I had precisely two spoonfulls of mashed potatoes left on my plate, and I asked for them in a to-go box. Poverty? Yes. Regret? No.]
Our dinner at ABC Kitchen was exquisite, and the service, perfect. It takes a really good server to make you feel at ease/not even a little bit annoyed but also stay attentive, filling wine and water glasses the second they are emptied and checking that all your food is up to par (we had a terrible service experience at another Jean-George establishment and one of our favorite date night spots, Mercer Kitchen, this Saturday, and it definitely left me more appreciative of a great waiter/waitress). Was this the best meal I ever had in my life? No, and despite the hype, I didn’t expect it to be. Was it an incredible date night in a spot with delicious food and a mastery of the low-key, cool, ambiance so many farm-to-table restaurants try to exude these days? Yes. Did I leave drunk, full, ready to recommend to large groups and couples alike? Fo sho. Best of all, did our post tax+tip total exceed our gift card by $4.06, netting us a five course dinner with wine $2.03 each? Abso-effing-lutely. And ever the gentleman, the man friend sprung for the difference.