With ABCv, the multi-Michelin chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten empowers by his stardom the new vegetarian era for New York. At brunch on weekends entire families celebrate anniversaries at ABCv. During the week at lunch male colleagues next to the more food conscious women. they all enjoy sharing the delectable vegetable plates, and even at dinner non-vegetarian couples join the more eco responsible dining crowds. The ABCv vegetarian restaurant by Jean-Georges sources the produce locally from nearby Union Square green market and directly from the farmers in the fertile Northwestern region. Offering the best quality and breadth of fresh produce in Manhattan, the Union Square market hives in organic and sustainably grown or raised edibles and inspires local chefs to create new seasonal dishes.
Minimalism meets raw naturalism at ABCv
Snapping an entire block on Broadway, the iconic Manhattan upscale home shopping nests all three dining projects by Jean Georges Vongerichten. All of them are interconnected and you can maze through into the shopping area smoothly during the opening hours. First came the ABC Kitchen that honed a number of talented chefs like Dan Kluger of Loring Place, who also headed the second restaurant ABC Cocina of by Mexico inspired plates served in a sparely lit restaurant.
The brightest feel visually but also on the palate has the latest of the edible alphabet trios, the ABCv (vegetarian). Through the open street windows watch what’s cooking, take-out (until 4pm) baked delectables or go in, but reserve ahead. The whole restaurant is transparent, so you can peak into the kitchen any time through the large window. The eclectic interior design at ABCv echoes the furniture, rugs, decorative and dining ware, and the eco-lifestyle centric ABC Carpets & Home mall. On the walls hangs eastern pattern-based art and quotes citing Vietnamese philosopher and mindfulness guru Thich Nhat Hanh welcome with “The bread in your hand is the body of the cosmos” right at the entrance inspire appreciation of your meal at ABCv.
Ironically, the acoustics in all of the ABC restaurants amplify the signature American loudness, so do not schedule any discourse focused meetings there. Eating at ABCv at the end is about fun over vegetable-centric healthy and delicious food.
Nutrition-centric vegetarian food
As if illuminating the New Yorkers, the vegetarian cuisine attracts also non-vegetarians. The chef de cuisine Neal Harden executes the chef-proprietor Jean-Georges vision balancing your meaty intake. You will not miss anything in the taste-centric ABCv.
The menus are organised in groups – light & fresh, warm & hot, noodles & rice, legumes & grains, dosa & sandwich (breakfast and lunch only). The dessert card arrives separately. Inserted are nutritional benefits highlighted by drawings of the respective superfoods like cucumber and turmeric. Superfood is basically any natural product not deprived of its nutritional value.
I came right after the opening in spring and returned to check the progress three times this fall for brunch, lunch and dinner. Weeding out what did not work, the successful plates spanning across the growing seasons due to greenhouse planting remained.
Sharing is encouraged and turning my neck to other tables, most plates are set in the middle. To start, the Slow roasted beets have proved themselves. On the menu ever since the opening, the blood-building red bulbs defy seasonality as they can be stored for months. Spiced up with dijon mustard and chili aioli alongside a smooth avocado puree, umami pickles and leafy lovage, I have ordered them repeatedly to introduce my dining companions to this decadent bounty. The messy and succulent, while crunchy Avocado lettuce cups have also remained on the all-day menus. The duet of leafy wrap rolls stack in half avocado, cumin, serrano chili, pepitas with a kick of lime. The Baby mustard greens with fermented vegetables and mixed in chunks of avocado are also nice, light. Heavier is the fall Honeynut squash dip, more like a mash as its density invited a spoon to dip in and flap over to the warm pita triangles. Tahini, sumac and mint halo the Middle-eastern provenance.
The popular and simple roasted cauliflower dyed with golden turmeric, bolder tahini and pistachio, can be served whole, but the lately added half portion is a welcome deal. Mediterranean nuances prevail, but some like the Whole artichoke with olive oil and lemon are inferior to traditional recipes. Being based in the Mediterranean, my palate is trained to the best of this sea-washed region, and the steamed artichoke with lemon dip at the Club 55 could serve as the model of perfection for ABCv. Much better was the Shallot and herbs labneh with crunchy raw seasonal vegetables like cucumber, celery and sunchoke chips.
The Market carrots were also savvily prepared. Stoneground nut and seed butter, chilies and again the lime tiptoed in to bare its innocence into a foxy kick of flavouring the plate.
At lunch and dinner the Fresh spinach spaghetti, broccoli, kale, preserved lemon, garlic, parmigiano and saffron crumbs surprise with their citrusy tang over the usual New York style pasta heaviness. Ramen and soba tick the Asian noodle box.
From larger sharings, the plain or accompanied with sumac seasoned yogurt dip, avocado and sprouts dosa is a hit. Baked like a large see-through crepe, with crisp edges, this lentil flour delicacy is a must order. The Fried wild rice was a bit too oily and over-combined so I never came back to the puffed rice mish-mash.
ABCv is also opened for breakfast. Wholesome bowls, substantial dosas, low-gluten or sans gluten pancakes, the trendy avocado toast, warm and sustaining Ayurvedic porridges, vegan pastry basket and eggs in many forms. I love the sautéed Wild mushrooms mixed with two runny poached farm eggs, shallots and herbs like dill, but a wholegrain toast on side would better be ordered with this juicy and flavoursome plate.
The dinner, next to most lunch menu offerings ushers some umami rich delicacies like the simply delicious Grilled donko shiitake mushrooms. Baked under a savoury hat of spring onions, caramelized fennel, yuzukosho green goddess sauce this is magic. The Soft custardy tofu with crispy yuba (tofu skin) topped with white truffle shavings sends any vegetarian dinner into a gastronomic high! At lunch a simpler and cheaper (minus truffle) version with ponzu vinaigrette is served.
From the desserts, the Vegan matcha crème brûlée enchants the powdered green tea tribe. Creamy, decadent, yet not too sweet. House sorbets like sea buckthorn, concord grape, peach and the unusual combo of blueberry with lavender dot refreshingly any meal. The breakfast and brunch staple baked from ancient the grain base – Einkorn pancakes with raspberry powder dusted coconut cream, succulent fig compote, fresh raspberries and a side of maple syrup, are filling. The trio of pancakes can be sweetened to your liking, since the oozing syrup is served in a lab glass jar, yet the indulgence pales with comparison to the less healthy fluffy white flour pancakes.
Supercharged beverages at ABCv
The brief wine list mostly offers all by the glass or bottles from Oregon to Sicily. Snatching the last two bar seats on a late evening, I succumbed to the temptation of mixing a cocktail in. I don’t like my drinks sweet and the amiable bartender advised the perfect savoury Sea buckthorn and yobo soju with the balancing act of agave. With its trace mouthfeel of alcohol, the freshness was central to my enjoyment.
Going alcohol-free, the healthful herbal, vegetables or fruity vibrations titled like “Brain” the liquid green concoction brahmi, gotu, kola, kale, spinach, ginger, lime or “joy”, “heart”, “spirit” are refreshing and despite a touch of agave in some not sweet. Cold pressed organic juices are staples in most modern eateries today. Served in long stemmed wine glasses, rare even for the wine in the millennial America, the healthful beverages got a visually sexy vibe. Matcha latte is served with dairy-free nut milk, the probiotic fizzy kombucha from Portland in Maine on tap beams with changing flavours (I got a double order of the lemon and ginger once), and tea also goes beyond the peppermint infusion. I sipped on a warm elderflower brew, while space travelling to the Central Europe where elderflower trees grow in abundance. Liquid breakfasts “super-fooded” and condensed into shakes are popular take-out, ideal for post-workout or fast paced mornings when you cannot sit and spoon out your first meal.
The only shortcoming are high prices for the European style (read small) portions. Order plenty, but keep in mind to finish the first plates before ordering another to reduce food waste. As I stalked the surrounding tables, at ABCv most diners eat what they order, a rare accomplishment in America. Applause to the entire trio of ABC restaurants inspired by Jean Georges’ culinary ideas for showing New Yorkers how to balance their consumption with local, plant-centric meals and in so reducing their carbon footprint deliciously.
38 East 19th street, Manhattan, New York
+1 212 475 5829