If there was ever a collaboration you didn’t see coming, it would have to be between Jean-Georges Vongerichten and ABC Carpet & Home. The purveyor of home furnishings and haute French cuisine share little in common other than perhaps their price points. But in 2010, Jean-Georges launched ABC Kitchen, a restaurant located on the ground floor of an ABC Carpet & Home store and it has since become relentlessly mobbed at all hours, perhaps too much so for its own good. The premise is organic and local ingredients and, this being Jean-Georges, the food is often fantastic. There are many restaurants in Manhattan that trumpet the farm-to-table, organic and sustainable creed, so for ABC Kitchen to come off seeming preachy (bread baskets handcrafted by the indigenous mapuche people of Patagonia, how nice) is an achievement. If this all sounds a bit self-righteous and gimmicky, that’s because it is.
But the proof is in the pudding, or in the array of whole wheat pizzas, perfectly-cooked fish like the black sea bass with chilies and herbs, hearty pastas and market table snacks, the highlights of which are a collection of toast points crowned by various toppings, including peekytoe crab meat and lemon aioli, shiitake mushrooms or ramp and goat cheese. It should be evident that the menu is fairly eclectic and, as would be expected of a Jean-Georges restaurant, draws on light broths and Asian spices.
The interior is just as eclectic — a jumble of vintage, barnyard rustic chic and industrial design with trees growing out of the floor for good measure. There are white brick walls, worn hardwood floors, glittering glass chandeliers, elegant, almost art deco mirrors, exposed wood beams, and white patio-style furniture. Beautiful fresh flowers and Greenmarket vegetables line a table in front of the open kitchen. Colorful large-scale modern photography blankets the walls. The room is deftly and softly lit with LED-style lighting. On paper, none of this should work, but here it all hangs together.
We have found the restaurant to be more uneven of late, with some dishes over-spiced and service sporadic. But, on a good day, if you order properly, you can have one of the most satisfying meals in the city.
35 E 18th St.
New York (nr. Broadway)
(212) 475-5829 Mon-Wed, noon-3pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm; Thurs, noon-3pm, 5:30pm-11pm; Fri, noon-3pm, 5:30pm-11:30pm, Sat, 11am-3:30pm, 5:30pm-11:30pm; Sun, 11am-3:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm