By Mika Chall
My visit to the Flatiron district is never complete without a stop at Fishs Eddy (19th and Broadway), where I summon every ounce of self-restraint to not succumb to the siren call of floor-to-ceiling trays, glassware, dishes (including the disarmingly kitschy Alice in Wonderland pattern), tea towels, utensils―you get the picture. I was actually on my way to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen, on the ground floor of ABC Carpet (18th and Broadway). I had dined there just after its 2010 opening and was excited about a repeat visit.
ABC Kitchen’s ethos of green and locavore is reflected in the salvaged wood tables and other recycled materials used throughout. Provisions are sourced locally (many are organic) and the concept of free trade is prominent. The stylishly designed space is big, bright and welcoming.
It was noon and a mixed bag of coolly bedecked locals and a smattering of tourists had already stormed the entrance, pressed like a phalanx of linebackers against the host’s podium. There I was, queen of no reservations, making an end run for a seat at the bar.
The menu is extensive, with a generous number of appetizers, pastas, whole wheat pizzas, entrees and sides. Toward the end of the list, I noticed a three-course prix fixe lunch offered at $28, a major bargain (and probably great solace for the diner who had just purchased a $16,000 hand-knotted rug).
My starter was a bowl of roasted mixed beets served with tangy house-made yogurt. Although the dish did not break any new culinary ground, the interplay of sweet and tart was refreshingly welcome on a sweltering day.
An entrée of steamed hake, roasted maitake, asparagus and spring onion-chili vinaigrette, was nicely balanced and well executed. The fish, which was mild and flaky, paired well with the robust flavor of the maitake, the fresh asparagus were crisp to the bite and the vinaigrette added a wonderful acidic punch.
The dessert choices are not elaborate or terribly creative; I opted for salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. I thought the whipped cream might be gilding the lily, so I ordered it without. What a great dessert! The combination of the salted ice cream with the sweet flavor of the peanuts and the crunch of popcorn was perfect on its own, and the velvety richness of the chocolate sauce definitely added a touch of luxurious decadence.
The bar offers cocktails, organic sake, beer and wine. Several non-alcoholic juices, organic smoothies, organic elixirs and house-made sodas are also available. The ginger lime soda is especially refreshing. Service is friendly and efficient.