ABCV – review

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Roasted Cauliflower, ABCV

In my mind, there’s a good reason why beige gets such a bad rap. As a color, it’s neither brown, nor cream, nor yellow, nor orange, nor white. It’s refusal to take a stand one way or the other locks it into the nethersphere of indifference. I also find it timid, inconsequential and perhaps even lazy. In fact, the only thing going for beige is its invisibility. After months of trying, I finally landed a spot at Jean Georges Vongerichten’s much-fussed-about 3rd act within the Flatiron district’s ABC Carpet & Home. After the inextinguishable farm-to-table success of ABC Kitchen, followed by his mostly-Iberian bistro ABC Cucina, he then tripled-down with ABCV, a robust commitment to vegetarianism that I can best describe as…beige.

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ABCV

The white-washed techy space is the brightest of his ABC’s with a few vague, non-comital splashes of pale colors here and there: pale pink, pale green and of course – pale beige. Even the wait staff seem to have been hand-picked for their pasty skin tones – which against their faded-pink T-shirts makes them all appear to be headed for a slumber party at the Langone Hospital emergency room at the end of their shift.

 

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Heirloom Tomatoes, ABCV

As expected, aside from a few cocktails and a limited wine selection, the non-alcoholic libations include an array of smoothies and veggie juices with a litany of promises, from a healthy heart to a clean spleen. But what did surprise me was the illustrated vegetable encyclopedia for idiots, which I found both startlingly unnecessary and oddly insulting. (I know what an eggplant is. It’s an emoji metaphor for a man’s endowment!)

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Avocado Lettuce Cups, ABCV

 

After the first few bites of the Avocado Lettuce Cups It became brutally evident why that darling little antique salt-boat containing vegan hot-sauce was waiting patiently in front of me. I figured that if the only discernable flavors were the total sum of the ingredients listed on the menu, I should still be in good shape flavor-wise with the cumin, serrano and lime, but all I got was a mouthful of fresh and crunchy beige.

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Wok Fried Ramen noodles, ABCV

I won’t bore you with repetitions, but suffice it to say that the next few dishes including Heirloom tomatoes with figs, Roasted Cauliflower with turmeric-tahini, Roasted baby Artichokes with green olives, Wok fried Ramen noodles with marinated cucumbers all left the kitchen fervidly vying for “dullest dish of the decade” – and frankly, it was a very close call. I’d happily argue that my vegetarian meal kit delivery service leans into its flavors with more conviction. Heck, even Langone Hospital offers more flavor off their heart-healthy iPad menu. And although I have yet to vouch for them, I’m told that Old Mother Hubbard Classic Country dog-bone shaped treats promises irresistible pumpkin flavor too. Let’ s just hope they’re any color other than…you know…

ABC Cocina review

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Cocina might be more rustic and noisier than its big locavore brother ABC Kitchen, but it takes itself a lot less seriously too. On one hand the impressively lavish menu seems to steer solidly in the direction of Iberian-inspired tapas, but then a sudden sharp turn suggests we’re on a runaway taco truck with no brakes, picking up a litany of multi-culti hitchhikers as we perilously head for the border. With a chipotle pepper here or a chorizo there, here a taco, there an empanada and everywhere a salsa…Vong has created the ultimate pan-Latin kitchen comedy, by masterfully staging a telenovela right in the middle of a bullfight.

Spiced Ground Beef Empanadas - ABC Cocina

Spiced Ground Beef Empanadas

Many of the usual suspects are re-imagined with new and exciting textures and flavors like adding hearty eggplant to the Spiced ground Beef Empanadas or laying landmines of crispy chicken skin with lemon zest into the Arroz con Pollo giving the otherwise mundane staple some unexpected crunch and purpose.

Patatas Bravas - ABC Cocina

Patatas Bravas

I was initially suspicious of the 24-karat gold roasted Patatas Bravas that were nested next to a pool of mysteriously dark and picante sauce suspended in the heart of an ivory aioli, but after mixing the liquids together and then dribbling them over the crispy nuggets, I found myself pleasantly overwhelmed in rosemary rapture.

Grilled Maitake Mushrooms - ABC Cocina

Grilled Maitake Mushrooms

Even though the woody-smoky-charcoaly Grilled Maitake Mushrooms were crowned with melted herb goat cheese, their tart Fresno pepper vinaigrette might have shifted the earth on its axis by a hair.

Chipotle Chicken Tacos - ABC Cocina

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Of all the gourmet Taco options, the Chipotle Chicken seems to have done the best job at already establishing its own fan club and Twitter account. But as delectable as it might have been, with just the right amount of fuss you’d expect to find inside a floppy masa shell, something was definitely missing. Too dry? Too crunchy? Turns out the grilled Jalapeño salsa was left in the kitchen and only arrived after we had digested the final morsels. Oops! But the sublimely moist and flavorful Grilled Chorizo sausage arrived with all of its parts fortuitously present.

Housemade Chorizo Sausage - ABC Cocina

Housemade Chorizo Sausage

While things may have changed slightly since former chef de cuisine Dan Kluger left the ABC’s to start his own venture, his footprints for success are still well-entrenched in these polished-concrete cocina floors. ¡Esta bien!

http://www.abchome.com/eat/abc-cocina/