ABC Kitchen

35 E 18th St. New York, NY 10003(212) 475-5829 • abckitchennyc.com

ABC-Kitchen-Sundae

After such incredible hype I’m afraid my expectations were virtually impossible to meet- damn you hype!!! That said, I did find the restaurant to be very good, just not worth all of the pomp and circumstance to get a rezzy.

For example, we went during Snowmageddon figuring there would naturally be cancellations and we could slip in.They did slip us in, but the “only” time they had available was 5:30pm. Let’s just say that less than 50% of the tables were filled during the entire duration of our meal which ended around 7:45/8:00. Hardly “booked.” And it’s this fake, manufactured- self induced-hard-to-get-into bullshit that I hate about places like this in NYC.

But beyond that, the decor is really quite something. Jean-Georges really does know how to jazz up a place. Casual and cozy, yet modern and hip. You feel like you are in a country barn that was renovated by a contemporary architect. The lighting alone is worth the visit.

As for the food, I did extensive yelping before going and I have to say that my fellow elites let me down a bit. We had the roasted carrot and avocado salad, the crab toast, the pizza special, the fried chicken and the sundae- all of which came highly recommended by multiple yelpers of the elitie variety. Of the dishes, the toast and the salad were good, the pizza was just okay and the sundae was a complete waste of calories and money. That said, there was one stand out- the chicken. Yes, chicken. I know it’s practically a cardinal sin to order chicken when you are out, but I am damn glad I did, because it was stellar. Far and away the best thing we had. Best fried chicken I EVER had. Almost done like fish and chips. But unfortunately, it was the ONLY thing that lived up to the hype.

Fortunately (for them), I went back for lunch and I have to say, what a difference a mealtime makes. They are SO much better at lunch time. I would seriously consider upping them to 4 stars, but if you can only do one meal time well, are you really a four star restaurant?

That said, everything we had, from the spinach salad to the pizza to the portobello sandwiches yielded not a single miss. Maybe they just get too tired of being awesome come dinner time and they start slacking?

3 teeth

The Ultimate Babka

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Breads Bakery – New York, NY

I know Seinfeld said there were two babkas, but I assure you, there’s only one worth mentioning. In fact, it’s so damn yummy it’s also worth doing a hora. That’s why New York Magazine gave Breads some major mazels, and why you’ll be as giddy as the Fiddler on the Roof after tasting those moist Nutella-laced, chocolaty swirls.

Republic

37 Union Sq. West New York, NY 10003 • (212) 627-7172thinknoodles.com
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If you’re shopping in the hood and you can’t get a table at the Coffee Shop or Blue Water Grill or Tarallucci e Vino, then you’ve come to the right place. Tons of seating, which is good, and relatively quick turnover, which is especially nice during the winter shopping season, when waiting for a table sucks times ten. The other nice thing about visiting here in the winter is for their great soups. The one I always get is the spicy beef and noodle soup. Hella spicy, but nose-running good.

Pad thai and glass noodle chicken is also up to snuff. As well as your typical pan-Asian starters like pot stickers and fried wontons. Oh, and very good, very strong cocktails as well.

Service, on the other hand, often blows. Typically very unaccommodating in virtually every way possible. And it’s almost as if they take pride in it- assholes. That said, the last time I was there, around the holidays, they were uncharacteristically nice. Maybe they were trying to get off of the naughty list.

But assholes or angels, at least the food and drink are always good.

3 teeth

The Ultimate Fried Chicken

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ABC Kitchen – New York, NY

The South has nothing on this bird (pictured). Prepared in such a way that seems more derivative of fish and chips, the chicken winds up coming out like a juicy, poultry breaded bag of bliss. The other thing that winds up happening is you make everyone else at the table jealous they didn’t order the chicken.

 

Maharlika – New York, NY

Prior to Maharlika I really didn’t get the whole chicken and waffles thing. And yes, I tried it, so don’t get all Green Eggs and Ham on me. And what’s weird about it is that I love both dishes independently, just not together. Well, maybe that’s because no one else was doing it right. So leave it to a Filipino restaurant to show me how Southern cooking is supposed to be. Go figure. Gotta love New York though. So what’s so great about ‘em? I’m not entirely sure to be honest. I mean the fact that the waffles are purple is aesthetically unique, but I doubt that’s the reason. Moistness is, however a huge part of it. The waffle wasn’t dry, which is my usual gripe with this dish. The other plus was sweetness, again, a miss with so many other posers. I mean on a philosophical level, isn’t the purpose of this dish the contrast of savory and sweet? Well, Maharlika gets it. And now so do I.

Tarallucci e Vino

15 E 18th St. New York, NY 10003 • (212) 228-5400 • taralluccievino.net/the-restaurant

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Flying under the radar of many a foodie lurks this surprisingly good Italian chameleon (not stallion). Great sandwiches. Great brunch. Terrific desserts. And, supposedly one of the best cups of coffee in the city. I’m not a coffee drinker, but my wife is and so are my friends, and I trust them… at least when it comes to coffee. The hot chocolate is pretty spectacular too.

Some lunch highlights to consider are the octopus salad starter. So tender and light you’d have to be an octoracist not to like it. I also recommend the grilled zucchini panini, but have them add proscuitto. And to finish, get the mini flourless chocolate cake. (aka Belgian brownie, aka awesome).

On the breakfasty side of things, the Nutella and banana french toast is worth a shout. As are most of the pastries.

So, if you’re looking for a nice casual bite to eat around Union Sq. and the Coffee Shop is packed and you’re not in the mood for Republic, head over here. It’s better anyways.

4 teeth

 

Union Square Café

21 E 16th St. New York, NY 10003(212) 243-4020unionsquarecafe.com

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While I am definitely a fan of Danny Meyer, Union Square Café is my least favorite of his restaurants. Sort of like Batali, I find that he is better suited to more casual dining such as Smoke, or even more casual, Shake Shack. Granted it’s not like Union Square is particularly fancy. I honestly think it’s pretty modestly appointed as well. I know a lot of people swoon over the decor, but it’s definitely not swoon-worthy in my book. But I suppose that’s moot, because it would appear they are on the move. Guess the rent was too high for $$$ and he didn’t want to up it to $$$$. That said, when I ate there it tasted more like $$.

I was literally unimpressed by every last bite. Maybe it was all the hype. Maybe it was the fact that I went for lunch as opposed to dinner. But if you are truly a great restaurant, should any of that matter? I’m sure I will go again sometime down the road and perhaps eat some crow along with a fabulous meal, so until then, I stand by my knives.

2 teeth

Pure Food & WIne

54 Irving Pl. New York, NY 10003(212) 477-1010 • purefoodandwine.com
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After hearing SO many people rave about this place, expectations were pretty high. Which is always dangerous. That said, it held up pretty well.

First: The garden is very charming. Clean and simple. Perfect on a Summer evening.

Second: The service was very good. Our waiter made some excellent recommendations.

Third: All four entrees we had were spot on. The lasagna (of course), the squash blossoms (my fav), the tamale and the BBQ portobello mushrooms.

Fourth: Both desserts were killer. The peach cobbler was as good as anything I’ve had at a non veggie/raw place. And the chocolate semifreddo was also quite solid.

So, that’s why it got three knives. But why not more you ask? Sounds incredible right? And it was. VERY impressive for raw/non-dairy. So much so that it’ll have you you questioning if it’s really vegan or not. And had that been all we had, I’d probably be throwing out another knife or two. But, things actually got off to a rocky start…

First: The white sangria was terrible! Worst I’ve ever had. They use Chardonay, which admittedly I hate. And what a horrible choice for Sangria, which is supposed to be refreshing! Chardonay tends to have heavy notes of caramel, which isn’t exactly what one would want on a hot Summer’s eve. Should’ve used a Pinot Grigio, Savignon Blanc or Gavi.

Second: All four appetizers where underwhelming. The morels and asparagus were good. But the other three were very blah. And with first impressions being so hard to overcome, Pure was fighting an uphill battle all night. That said, it was a great come from behind performance to reach 3 knives.

And that about sums it up. Great place for a vegetarian date- just skip the apps. And the sangria.

3 teeth

15 East

15 E 15th St. New York, NY 10003 • (212) 647-0015 • 15eastrestaurant.com

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This is a hard one for me because I definitely enjoyed my meal, but there were also way too many missteps to overlook.

My first nit is the poached octopus. This was a touch slimy and much more than a touch flavorless. I have had better octopus at over two dozen places in the city. It doesn’t even deserve mention it’s so blah. But because it’s a review I’m mentioning it anyway. As Alanis would say “Isn’t it ironic?”

Another underwhelming app was the array of seaweed. It literally did nothing for me- wait, that’s a lie. It was pretty to look at.

But then came the omakase and oh my gosse was it good! The highlights being the wild yellowtail (epic)  and the scallop (sweet Jesus). The other pieces were good too, but not at the same level. That said, as wonderfully fresh as this fish was, I actually think Azuma in Harstdale, Westchester has fresher, better omakase for half the price. And yes, you can quote me on that.

And the flourless chocolate cake for dessert was a very solid good.

Service was a tad slow and sloppy- literally. Our waiter dropped the cap to our sake on the floor. And I watched as another server cleared a table, dripping yuzu sauce from one end of the dining room all the way to the other.

Décor is nice. But I had already been here in its former life as Tocqueville, so I was familiar with the sliver shaped room.

All in all, a good lunch, but I wouldn’t rush back.

3 teeth