NYC Restaurant Review: abcV
In the past week, I had the exciting opportunity to visit many glamorous restaurants and places located at the heart of New York City during my brief visit there. As per the recommendation of Mr.Tora Matsuokas, a dynamic entrepreneur and partner in Seasoned Hospitality Consulting and Project Management, my friend and I visited the abcV restaurant with curiosity and high expectations. Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the owner of abcV, is one of the world’s most famous chefs with extensive experience working in the restaurant and business industry. Growing up with early exposures to food and culinary arts in France, he has been publishing cookbooks, opening restaurants with innovative concepts, and revolutionizing the culinary history throughout his life. Jean-Georges Vongerichten founded abcV with the mission of incorporating “plant based, non gmo, sustainable, artisanal and organic whenever possible, locally and globally from small & family farms, towards plant based intelligence, through creativity and deliciousness.” The V in abcV “performs triple duty, standing for vegetables, vibrations and Vongerichten” (Pete Wells). This chic vegan restaurant is located on East 19th Street, inside ABC Carpet & Home and side by side with ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina, within walking distance from Union Square Greenmarket.
After shopping for some local ingredients form the Union Square Greenmarket, my friend and I ventured into abcV on a rainy afternoon around 6:00 p.m. As we walked into the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by an open space with dim lighting, spacious room, and elegant design. The waitress greeted us with a big smile and immediately seated us at the open bar where we could see how the staff members prepared the beverages and cold dishes while still enjoying the outside view from the open window. Just before settling in, I took a good moment to examine the loft-like, white surroundings. The lighting was just bright enough for reading the menu while not too dim to create a sense of comfort and intimacy. The soft music playing in the background blended in perfectly with the chatters and clinking of glasses and cutlery. The use of space, the music, and the lighting all worked so perfectly together. The overall restaurant deco is classily minimalistic, with modern, fresh, and chic design elements. Waiters and waitresses are professionally trained and dressed in light pink t-shirts with white aprons around their waists. It only took us seconds to feel like home.
As the farm-to-table social movement has become a popular topic in recent years, Jean-Georges Vongerichten pioneers the idea of using local, vegan ingredients in abcV while managing to keep the quality high and prices affordable. He mostly uses sustainable, organic, and fresh ingredients in vegan dishes with his knowledge and experience from travelling and working in the East. The concept of sustainable farming is integrated in every aspect of the restaurant, from menu development, food choice, and consideration of seasonality. The menu was printed on a sleek, white paper with items categorized in different sections, such as “light & fresh,” “warm & hot,” “noodle & rice” etc. There is a good balance of veggies, noodles and grains, plus items like dosas (Indian-style crepe) and desserts. Since the dishes are vegan, the chefs use creativity to incorporate surprising element and exotic ingredients to make them flavorful, unique, and delicious. Besides cocktails and homemade sodas, there is also a wide variety of selection such as cold-pressed juices, fruit-based protein shakes, organic iced tea, and kombucha on the beverage menu. For desserts, the customers can pick from pink grapefruit gelée and granite, vegan matcha crème brûlée, salted caramel chocolate tart, amongst other choices.
Despite our temptation to order everything on the menu, my friend and I simply ordered the coconut sticky rice and the roasted cauliflower with turmeric-tahini and pistachios to share, with thoughts of saving room for desserts later. In about 20 minutes, the waitress returned with our beautifully-plated cauliflower. When she carefully placed the dish on the table, my friend and I were both astonished. What we saw was a plate of vibrant colors, with pomegranate seeds, pistachios, olives, and more exotic ingredients on the cauliflower. On the side, there were the warm turmeric-tahini dressing served in a sleek glass bleaker and lemon wedges placed on a small dish. After taking a few photos, my friend and I immediately started eating. Every component of the dish was cooked perfectly with vibrant flavors. I first tried the cauliflower without the dressing to taste the original flavor. Contrary to my expectations, it was well-cooked, juicy, and even a little bit sweet. I then added the dressing and lemon juice and took another bite, which blew me away. The creamy, tangy dressing made with lemon juice, turmeric powder, tahini, sea salt, and pepper had a subtle hint of spice, which really brought out the sweet flavors of the vegetables. I urged my friend to try it and she also had the same reaction. Just a few minutes later, the coconut sticky rice came. The warm Thai-style sticky rice with salty-sweet coconut milk is truly an indulgence that is impossible to resist. I immediately put a spoonful of it in my mouth and was blown away again. The coconut sugar and sea salt blended with the rice so well that they just melted in my mouth. The combava, or the zest of kaffir lime, also added a subtle citrus fragrance and a layer of complexity to the sweetness. For the rest of the dinner, my friend and I indulged ourselves with the delicious food and cozy atmosphere. All you could hear was silence, for it was all we needed to enjoy the moment. After finishing the meal, we were beyond satisfied. My friend told me that she has not had such an amazing meal in a long time and thanked me for showing her how delicious vegan food can be. I too, was impressed by the dining experience at abcV and wrote a thank-you note to Mr.Tora Matsuokas for his recommendation shortly afterward.
Overall, abcV has been one of the most creative and delicious vegan restaurants that I have visited in the United States. Not only was everything unique and colorful, there was also a wide variety of fresh, organic, and local vegetable ingredients in every dish. There is really something for everyone at abcV: It is great for family reunions, gatherings, or lunch dates, where the portion of dishes is just right for sharing but also trying something else. You may indulge yourself with the light and hot dishes, while saving enough room for the delicious vegan desserts. abcV is the ultimate New York dining spot for vegetarians and foodies who are open to exotic and adventurous food. While vegan restaurants may not be on your list of restaurants to try, abcV is definitely worth the visit when you are visiting the City next time!