Category Archives: Union Square

Shake Shack: do I really need to explain?

shake shack

I’m not a burger connoisseur. And I can confidently say that unless I’m hungover, it rarely ever occurs to me to open up a menu and order a juicy, meaty hamburger. But ever since I waited in line at Shake Shack for an hour and got so hungry and light-headed that I had to give up to search for something I could eat IMMEDIATELY, I’ve been craving the juicy burger I was so close to having like no other.

Fortunately this week, my college friend and burger-lover Ashley was in town with quite the eating list to tackle. Shake Shack naturally made the top of the list, so we decided to wait in the infamous (yet MUCH shorter than it used to be) line for the whole burger sha-bang. Since I’m such a burger novice, I still hadn’t figured out if I like my burger with or without cheese. This time, I tried the Shack burger without, and piled it high with tomato, lettuce, onions and ketchup. This combination is my new go-to, because the patty on its own is decadent enough – the cheese would have masked its crispy, seared outside and intense flavor. Whereas at In-N-Out, the real standout of the burger is the thick cut tomato, onion and soft toasted bun, at Shake Shack, it’s all about the meat and soft potato bun, which are the ingredients that in my opinion really matter. I’m craving another one as we speak.

IMG_1689

Ash Bash super excited for what’s about to go down

The fries were nothing sort of awesome. The jagged shape creates lots of crispy edges surrounding a fluffy potato center. They’re clean-cut and not too greasy, and actually quite good inside the burger itself.

Since the custard flavor of the day was chocolate chip cookie, I obviously couldn’t resist, but I was disappointed by the soupey texture. It should have been dense and cold, yet instead it turned out to be melted with lumps of chocolate. The flavors were there, but they need to repair their machine at this location.

Overall, I am oh-so happy I finally can check this burger off my list of must-dos before the dreaded NYC move.

Grade: B+ overall due to melted frozen custard, but the burger was amazing
Location: Multiple
Website

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Filed under American, Cheap Eat, Chelsea, Erin's Favorites, Flatiron, Union Square

Sugar Surge: Breads Bakery – the most buttery and delicious chocolatey treats

I am a bakery fiend, you should all know that by now. So when I heard about the Breads Bakery opening near Union Square, I put a reminder on my calendar to head there as soon as time allowed. What excited me most about visiting this Israeli-run bakery is the rugelach, crescent-shaped Jewish cookies traditionally made with cream cheese and filled with chocolate or fruit. They’re awesome, and I’ve been eating them since I was sitting in my mom’s grocery cart at Grand Central in SF.

When I went to Breads the $1.50 tiny rugelach was the first thing I purchased. To my surprise, it was hands-down the best, flakiest, chocolatiest rugelach I’ve ever tasted. Most have a very dense, chalky texture, but this one is as light and fluffy as a croissant. The inside is soft, and the outside is golden brown and crispy. Absolutely addicting.

tray of rugelach

tray of rugelach

rugelach

buttery rugelach

The second time around, they were giving samples of their ridiculous triple chocolate chip cookie, which did its job in leaving me no choice but to buy one. I thought I knew the city’s best cookies, but I evidently failed to acknowledge that one of my favorite versions can be found here. The golden crust surrounds a chewy, soft dough layered with milk and dark chocolate rounds. It’s magic.

cookie

cookie

Then, just over the weekend I stopped by for a quick snack while shopping – how could I resist when the sign caught my eye while walking down fifth avenue? I almost went for a savory treat – the cheese sticks are delicious – but I again opted for the sweet chocolate bread. Amy’s Bread makes a wonderful sourdough twist with chunks of dark chocolate. This, however, takes the cake, and while it’s not as rich as a chocolate croissant, it packs the same dark chocolatey punch.

I’m three for three at Breads Bakery – every single chocolate treat I’ve tried has been a score. And with tons of samples for tasting, they’re my favorite type of place! Next time I’m committing to one of the cheese & egg tartlets.

Grade: A+
Location: 18 East 16th Street between 5th Ave and Union Square West
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Filed under Bread Basket Breakdown, Cheap Eat, Sugar Surge, Union Square

Hu Kitchen

At around 7pm a few weeks ago a well known Sales personality in my office scurried in a fluster past my desk. “Whoa whoa whoa!” I said, intrigued by the fire causing the rush. “Where ya going?” As he frantically scanned his blackberry he belted that he was going to his good friend’s new specialty food store opening. Little did he know how interested I’d be, and after he directed me to their website, I wanted in. I put a weekend stop-by on my to-do list right away.

Well, after a few weeks of trailing up and down 5th Avenue looking for the place (I had forgotten the name, so couldn’t look it up), I finally stumbled across a big sign that said “Food for Humans.” I knew it was the right place. Interested and hungry, I walked in eager to sample. The smoothie bar looked delicious..as did the fresh yogurt station, the baked goods, the salads, the roast chicken, and the Dean & Deluca-style display case. In the mood for breakfast, I asked the smoothie-barista to mix up her favorite, which turned out to be the banana almond smoothie that came with almond milk, almond butter, bananas, and salt. The first round wasn’t so good. The smoothie was incredibly salty to the point of being inedible. But the service people were kind enough to whip up another batch, and unlike most organic, non-traditional food shops, they were happy to remake the order (or at least looked like it). The second batch was a dream. I also tried a carrot raisin muffin, which was gluten and sugar free, and actually quite tasty.

Despite a slightly bitter motto on their site (“It’s time to get back to the way humans ate before industry ruined food”), I really like what they’re doing. And the owners are smart. They found an unmet need (healthy food in a clean and stylish setting), and solved the problem in an ideal area – where shoppers on lower fifth ave need a quick bite to eat. I will definitely be back in that context, whether for a salad or a smoothie. Delivery will be key in helping this business grow.

Grade: A-
Location: 78 Fifth Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets
Website

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Filed under Cheap Eat, Deli, Union Square, Vegetarian / Vegan

ABC Kitchen

I’ve been to the holy ABC Kitchen a few times but every New Yorker knows that it’s next to impossible to get a reservation at a decent hour, or essentially anything after 5:30pm. I don’t generally mind an early bird special but given my work schedule, like most people I simply can’t make this happen. Well, last Monday, I was ecstatic when I found out that my date scored an 8pm reservation. After a year since my last visit with my friend Sonia, I couldn’t wait to try all of the new fresh things on this brilliant, gorgeously designed menu.

Half of ABC Kitchen’s appeal is the feeling I get when I enter, which is the aggregate effect of the restaurant’s every intricate detail. The delicate white china, the white lacquered tables, the graceful font on the menus, the dim lighting and votive candles, the background music, the wide open dining room, and the efficient but unobtrusive service collectively create an atmosphere that you don’t want to leave. It’s the perfect mix of casual California and sceney New York. But the scene is replicated no where else…just a little more refined than Barbuto, a little more casual than Mas Farmhouse…and it hits just the right note for me when I want to have a memorable meal out any day of the week.

The other half of the draw is of course, the insane offering of local, organic food (and drink -. No need for lengthy descriptions – you’re served exactly what the few words on the menu say you’ll be served. Who knew that something so straight forward as heirloom tomato toast could be as sensuous and flavorful as it is here? Thinly sliced bright red tomato, salt, pepper, and olive oil on a perfectly toasted rustic bread happened to be my heaven that night. Just as delicious but a step up on uniqueness was the delicata squash with maple syrup and grated goat cheese, which was shaped and lusciously fried like a crispy creme donut. Like the fried bananas my mom loves at Filipino restaurants, it was crispy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside, and made complete by the dusted salty parmesan. The ricotta cavatelli came with an overload of pan seared shrimp that was absolutely perfect, soft, delicate, and easy to chew (sorry but just admit that shrimp is painful to chew sometimes), and the pork sausage on the fennel sausage pizza made every bite taste sinfully fatty and earthy. Every single dish did the job it set out to do – highlight each of its awesome, local components. The only disappointment was the boring shredded kale salad that I simply couldn’t bother eating because of all of the better options distracting me. 

heirloom tomato toast (photo from NY Post)

crispy squash

kale salad

scallop ceviche

I love dessert here. It took me everything to bypass the caramel ice cream sundae with popcorn and go for the cookie plate with chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies, but a side of caramel ice cream did the trick. Hard to be impressed with a plate of tiny cookies. The concord grape tart is something I never would have ordered myself but was actually interesting and delicious.

After four years of blogging, I’m starting to crack the recipe for my all time favorite restaurants. It must be casual but tasteful in setting. It must create the feeling of coziness even if it’s not cozy in space terms. It has to feel intimate. The menu is heavy on vegetables, seafood and sharable plates. It generally has a flatbread or a pizza. The cocktails are awesome. ABC Kitchen fulfills all of these requirements – I just wish I could go without fear of an hour long wait!

Grade: A
Location: 35 east 18th street (between broadway & park avenue)
Website 

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Filed under American, Brunch, Californian Cuisine, Erin's Favorites, Fun Group Dinner, Parents in Town, Romantic Date, Union Square

ABC Kitchen – Dinner Round 2

Many of you know that I previously reviewed ABC Kitchen, but having tried it just a few months after opening, I have been dying to go back to taste the improvements and give its service a second chance. Thankfully, Runway Hippie’s mom was in town this Sunday and we used her AmEx rewards membership to score a last minute reservation for 5 (who knew?). And, after not seeing Sones for over a week, I was desperate to be back in her arms! At 7:30pm, the place was alive with posh couples and casually dressed middle-aged groups. I just love the feeling of the place: low lighting sets the mood for intimate conversation, while white, eclectic furniture and antique porcelain tableware amplify the energy. And the menu packs in a ton of enticing, unpretentious, sophisticated food.

As a table, we shared the mushroom, parmesan, oregano, and farm egg pizza, served piping hot. The egg ran over as a result of being undercooked, but the whole wheat crust and delicate wild mushrooms made it quite the competitive asset.

farm egg pizza

Sonia and I then shared a spinach, mushroom, and quinoa salad, which they kindly divided for us. The vinaigrette tasted too sour, but I remember this from my last meal here – Jean Georges tends to go emphasize citrus and tangy flavors. The salad was perfectly fine, but Sonia’s mom’s appetizer of pretzel dusted calamari really grew my order envy.

spinach goat cheese salad

Calamari

For my main course, I ordered simply in an attempt to detox from a weekend of fried food in New Orleans. Fortunately, that’s easy to do here as the menu offers a variety of healthy options showcasing fresh and local ingredients. My steamed cod came with no surprises – just a straightforward, well seasoned, steamed piece of fish. It was exactly what I wanted at the time, but nothing I would recommend ordering with hopes to get a true sense of the chef’s talents.

cod with fennel

I often profess that I pretty much enjoy all food aside from mayonnaise and lamb. Mayonnaise for the obvious reasons (it’s the most fowl food on earth), and lamb because it tastes like the smell of a farm. But when Sonia’s huge lamb shank appeared, I couldn’t deny myself a taste, and I’m glad I didn’t. This lamb was as tender as duck confit, with crispy, caramelized skin and a subtly meaty flavor. I wouldn’t label myself a lamb convert, but I can admit that this dish at ABC Kitchen is a standout.

surprisingly tasty lamb

I also snagged a bite of Sonia’s mother’s bucatini with spinach, goat cheese and bread crumbs, which turned into an interesting medley of textures in my mouth. I’ve decided that crispy breadcrumbs in pasta is a great new invention and a solution to typically one dimensional noodle dishes.

pasta!

Let’s be honest here. After eating pralines and beignets all weekend, I still couldn’t wait to taste a few items from the dessert menu, what I consider ABC Kitchen’s forte. I remembered the pleasure I had in eating the sundae with salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts & popcorn, whipped cream and chocolate sauce, so we ordered that in addition to the banana chip ice cream cake and the pear bread pudding. The banana ice cream cake was beautiful, but the banana flavor was a little too intense, bringing me back to my childhood of sucking on banana flavored Now and Laters. The pear bread pudding was great, but as I expected, I dominated the ice cream sundae. Generous scoops of salted caramel ice cream on decadent hot fudge sauce with crispy caramel popcorn might be one of the most genius combos I’ve tasted.

pear bread pudding

banana chip cake with walnuts

Heavvennnn

So, the thoughts about my meal being ordinary (aside from the awesome pizza) were suddenly erased with a finale of salted caramel ice cream. Though the food at ABC Kitchen may not live up to all of the hype, it’s still delicious, and a good option if you’re looking for a beautifully crafted menu, a unique, spacious setting and a toned down version of Jean-George’s typically over fancified food.

Grade: B+

Location: 35 East 18th Street between Park and Broadway (inside ABC Home & Garden)

Website: http://jeangeorges.blogspot.com/2010/03/abc-kitchen-now-open.html

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Filed under American, Business Meal, Fun Group Dinner, New American, Parents in Town, Romantic Date, Union Square

City Bakery

Shopping always makes me hungry. As an adolescent, I loved taking trips to the mall with my mom because after hours of shopping, we had worked up a big enough appetite to warrant lunch in the Stonestown SF food court. Great Steak, Sbarro, Panda Express, Hot Dog on a Stick – it was these fine establishments that encouraged me to endure the process of hanging up my mother’s reject items in the dressing room for so many years.

Today, that memory popped in my mind as Sonia and I shopped around Gramercy with only samplings of focaccia from Eataly in our stomach. After an hour at West Elm, a surge of hunger came over us and we launched on a hunt down after food. But instead of an array of international fast food, our growling stomachs were saved with “City Bakery,” which had a fresh s’mores stand greeting customers at the front door.

I’ve been to the City Bakery in West Village (which sadly just closed), but the one near Union Square is definitely a larger, lunch crowd-focused production. Sonia and I walked passed the glistening croissants and cookies to the cafeteria, which looked like a (very) miniature version of Whole Foods with its stacked brown to-go boxes and array of self-serve, price per pound food. At first, we were thrilled to have the choice to stuff whatever we wanted in our containers, but after one lap around the hot food island, we became un-impressed with the selection.

Rice Pilaf

Veggie station

I piled my box high with kale salad, pesto pasta, mixed rice, balsamic chicken, fried chicken, and cauliflower. After eating at buffets for the past week in Vegas, I was in full force everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mode. I also grabbed one piece of what I thought looked like crispy pita chips; it turned out to be some of the hardest, rubberiest tofu I’ve ever tasted.

Crispy Pita or Tofu? You tell me...

I tried Sonia’s gruyere cheese toast, and although it satisfied my craving for salty food, the bread was unbearably greasy and desperate for some spinach or tomato to cut the oily mouth feel. Everything else was equally unremarkable – the fried chicken was flavorless, and the balsamic chicken required napkin-wiping in order to expose it beneath its thick, tangy sauce. The cauliflower was just okay – a little overcooked. The simple rice pilaf with almonds and raisins became my focus, but its edibility wasn’t enough to save the meal.

Sandwich station

In the process of chowing down on subpar food, I became mesmerized by the baristas performing their art of hot chocolate making – melting the chocolate, steaming the milk, and creating a frothy, thick brew of warm, intense chocolate drink. It made me realize that the true glory of City Bakery is not its food, but its hot chocolate – a product it has perfected so much that it won Serious Eats’ stamp of top 10 hot chocolates in NYC. Though I wanted to try the specialty item, I decided to see if cookies, stacked high like pancakes behind glass, were really as good as they looked.

Subpar dessert after a subpar meal

Based on my lunch, I’m not sure why I had so much faith in this cookie’s potential, and it took only seconds of chewing to label it as a disappointment. Though it looked like the consummate chocolate chip cookie, its sweetness overwhelmed any hint of uniqueness, and the grainy crystal sugar rolling between my teeth made me feel like they had picked it up right off the beach. With a little more salt, distinct cookie dough flavor would have shined. I honestly don’t think I’d be able to differentiate City Bakery’s cookie from that of McDonalds in a blind taste test. And even more unfortunate is that I’m not the only foodie who has this opinion.

Despite the sad lunch and cookie, I could see the appeal of City Bakery as a substitute for the constantly-packed Whole Foods blocks away. Lunch buffet and beautiful baked goods are fantastic offerings near street after street of shops, but City Bakery struggled to execute on this concept. I won’t put it on the list if I’m in need of a substantial, post-shopping meal. That said, I might just return when I’m hankering for a big gulp of creamy hot chocolate on New York’s next snow day…

Grade: B

Address: 3 West 18th Street between 5th and 6th

Website: http://www.thecitybakery.com


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Filed under Brunch, Union Square

Rubyzaar Cookies

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the many eccentric Christmas markets that pop up around the city. Though these markets are generally filled with over-priced crafts and useless trinkets, there are a few eclectic jewelry stands and food vendors that justify the visit. While wondering through the Union Square Holiday Market today, I came across the Rubyzaar cookie booth selling a variety of homemade, fair-trade cookies with ingredients ranging from dried peach to fresh mint. Being the sucker for baked goods that I am, I couldn’t resist trying these daring variations of the classic American cookie.

Half-eaten Bissau and NY Pretzel Cookie

After much internal debate, I selected the Bissau with peanut butter, dark chocolate, and banana, and the NY Pretzel, which reminded me of the delicious Compost cookie at Momofuku Milkbar. At $2 a cookie, I had high expectations. The cookies were soft, thick, and chewy, just as they appeared, and the flavor combos really worked. The chunks of sundried banana in the Bissau cookie added interesting texture and gave the cookie a true banana bread taste. My favorite, however, was the sweet and salty NY Pretzel. My only complaint was that the cookies lacked the “chocolate chunk” that their descriptions promised – the chocolate was in reality evenly laced throughout.

Taste aside, I really commend Rubyzaar for taking a risk to throw together ingredients normally foreign to classic cookie baking (sundried peaches, earl grey…). Definitely visit their booth when you’re at the holiday market, and let me know which unique cookie flavor you decide to try.

Grade: A-
Location: Union Square Holiday Market
Website: http://rubyzaar.com/

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Baked By Melissa

I am obsessed with bakeries, especially ones that put a twist on classic treats while maintaining their typical flavor. Baked by Melissa is a relatively new company – about 2-3 years old, which was started by a girl named Melissa who wanted to make creatively-flavored quarter-size cupcakes to allow indecisive people like myself to try more than just one variation without feeling over-indulgent. It began as a tiny door-way stand on Spring street in Soho, which racked up huge lines and pedestrian traffic, but there is now a larger location in Union Square which I have yet to visit.
My favorite flavor is chocolate chip pancake (top center below), but there are many more delicious choices such as mint chocolate chip, cookie dough, tie-dye, peanut butter and jelly, and cookies and cream. Each cupcake tastes exactly like its name, and most have a little surprise inside – the peanut butter cup, for example, has a dollop of peanut butter in the center, and the pumpkin spice, which is this month’s special cupcake, has a filling of sweet pumpkin.
If you haven’t paid this place a visit, definitely make the trip. These treats are easy enough to pop in your mouth, or devour slowly to indulge your sweet tooth without feeling sick from excess. However, if you’re looking for a classic cupcake with simple flavors and a mainstream buttercream, I’d head around the corner to Dean and Deluca.
Grade: A (mainly for creativity, also for taste)
Location: 520 Broadway (Spring street btwn Broadway and Mercer)

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Filed under Soho, Sugar Surge, Union Square

Strip House

I am not a huge meat eater, but I LOVE steakhouses. I love the sides, the bread, the massive desserts, the suave, swanky dining rooms, the caricatures on the wall, and the memories of childhood dinners out that it provokes. When my parents told me to book a place for our dinner with the grandparents, I immediately thought of Strip House. I had heard rave reviews about their steak from meat connoisseurs, and realized that steakhouses are the perfect please-all option for my family, which consists of people with a wide variety of food preferences. Non meat eaters can order fish or lobster, and the steak lovers obviously have a wide range of choices.
From the outside, with a tacky neon sign and a faded red awning, Strip House looks more like a …Strip Club than a steakhouse. But inside the mood is sensual, mystical, and very New York – a more swanky version of the typical Palm or Wolfgangs. The host was very accommodating of my special request for a round table, which is key for a party of 6 or more. My family and I were seated in the center of the dining room, in plain view of our server and the bus boys, perfect for a high maintenance group.
Bread basket was great – wide variety included an onion roll, a french roll, some crackers, and a few other options that kept us busy with our drinks for the first half hour. To start, my grandmother and I shared a bib lettuce salad with tomatoes, blue cheese, bacon, and red onion. I love steakhouse salads because they are generally served ice cold. This salad was delicious and definitely fit the steakhouse salad build. I also tried the caesar salad, which wasn’t the classic caesar salad I expected, but still flavorful, chilled, and tasty.
My father ordered the shrimp cocktail, which usually is the last thing I would like to eat, but I couldn’t resist a taste because the shrimp looked so fresh and plump. They were delicious – probably some of the tastiest poached shrimp I’ve had. And who knew you could differentiate shrimp cocktail?
I decided to skip the red meat for my main – I know, I’m a disgrace to a steakhouse. Unfortunately, the ONLY drawback on the menu was the lack of variety in the fish options. Generally, steakhouses have at least 3 – 4 solid seafood dishes. I had a choice between the seared tuna, which is pretty generic, and the Red Snapper, which doesn’t usually appeal to me. I opted to try something new and went with the snapper, and it was actually quite delicious. The skin was crispy, the base of bacon and potatoes was flavorful, and the fish was perfectly cooked.


Obviously, I tried the steak (my grandmother’s, since she is the only other person in the family who likes their meat medium rare), and the center was perfectly tender, savory, and juicy; the outside a crust of meaty flavor.
My sister ordered a seafood platter for her main, and it was massive.
The sides were equally amazing, and probably the most memorable, decadent part of meal (save dessert) – cream truffled spinach and crispy goose fat potatoes. Crazy! A few bites of those definitely put me over the edge.
But my fullness didn’t stop me from ordering dessert. Prior to coming to Strip House, I had seen pictures of their famous chocolate cake on Yelp, and I made it my mission to order it whenever I finally got a chance to dine there. I couldn’t resist…I ordered the Strip House famous chocolate cake, the warm chocolate brownie with ice cream, and the profiteroles for the table. Each dessert was RIDICULOUS. Our entire table almost freaked out in awe and surprise of the portion sizes. The cake was probably 6 inches high – a piece fit for the entire family, with 24 layers (my aunt meticulously counted) of dense chocolate ganache. Holy man it made my night.

The profiteroles was more like one gigantic pastry vessel of a bottomless supply of hazelnut and chocolate ice cream, also delicious, and the warm chocolate brownie was everything a warm chocolate brownie should be – damn good and a solid reason for my existence. I am honestly obsessed with dessert…it’s not a proper meal without it.
So, after the grand finale show of dessert, including THE BEST chocolate cake of my life, no lie, it was hard to even consider giving Strip House anything but a rave review. But, when my father professed that his steak blew that of Harris’s in San Francisco out of the water, I knew that the restaurant was an overwhelming success. The service was great, the food, from the sides to the steak to the dessert was phenomenal, and everyone of my family members left full and happy. The next opportunity I have to book a restaurant for a date, a special event, or a fun group dinner, I will undoubtedly consider Strip House.
Grade: A
Address: 13 E 12th Street between 5th and University

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Filed under Business Meal, Parents in Town, Romantic Date, Special Occasion, Steak House, Union Square

ABC Kitchen

While roaming around the ABC Home and Carpet store on a summer afternoon, my stomach started to grumble with hunger. I needed something delicious, and more importantly, something close by. I trailed down the aisle toward the scent of fresh baked bread and noticed a new spot across from Pipa and Le Pain Quotidien, the long standing ABC restaurants. It suddenly occurred to me that Jean George’s new restaurant was just steps away, and it felt like Christmas morning.

I had been reading about this place day after day and finally got an opportunity to try it. The host, however, despite the fact that the restaurant was almost totally unoccupied, was reluctant to seat my friend and me due to the incoming reservations. After some persuading, she begrudgingly seated us. After waiting about 10 minutes, we were finally given menus. 10 minutes later, water. Another 10 minutes, a waiter. It was definitely a slow process from beginning to end, but the food and unique, all white shabby-chic setting improved the overall experience.

The brunch / lunch menu had a variety of options – a fit restaurant for the adventurous as well as the tame eater. To start, we ordered the waiter’s recommendation of the roasted carrot and avocado salad which came with crunchy seeds and a dollop of sour cream. The roasted carrots were very good, and it was a unique combination, but a tad on the oily side. The flavors meshed well and it was a light, creative spring dish, but nothing I would rave about.

Our next course was a hit, however – the morel mushroom and farm egg pizza. The hearty wheat crust made it a filling entree and it was served hot out of the oven.
Because I wasn’t able to taste as much as I had liked during my lunch experience, I decided to make a reservation for dinner the following week. The dinner scene in ABC Kitchen is very cool and sexy. With the lights dim, the white, art-deco furniture and interesting ceiling sculptures really come to life and give it an interesting, mystical vibe. I really like the feeling of the space. Very modern and artsy. Service was as I had remembered – spotty and indifferent, but the food was a bit better. I started with the peeky-toe crab toast. Though it was a bit oily and salty, the flavors were there and the portion of fresh crab was generous.
We also ordered the sweat pea soup – this was one of my favorites of the night. Bright flavors, perfectly fresh, and completely reminiscent of what a fresh sweet pea tastes like.

For my entree, I had the black sea bass, and I was also able to try the crispy chicken. Both were really tasty but I much preferred the chicken – crispy, perfectly tender, and just salty enough. The fish was a bit oily and came with a saffron vinaigrette broth that was someone dishartening.
Dessert stole the show. The salted caramel peanut ice cream sundae with hot fudge and whipped cream was amazing. Super super sweet, so a few bites were sufficient to quell my sugar craving.
We also tasted the chocolate cake with marshmellow frosting, which was, well, blah. The icing tasted like plain meringue and the cake was dry. Though it was a disappointment, there were many other things on the menu that I would have considered ordering.

I love ABC Kitchen for its menu and ambiance. The food was definitely solid, and at times delicious, but alone not enough to bring me running back. Still, I would definitely give it another shot because I think with time (and after reading the many reviews), Jean Georges will perfect its service, and the few slip ups on the menu. Everyone else seems to have enjoyed their time there, so I think all this place needs is a bit of tidying up loose ends. I’ll definitely be back.

Grade: B+
Address: 35 East 18th Street between Broadway and Park

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Filed under New American, Parents in Town, Romantic Date, Special Occasion, Union Square