Review By: Stefanie Parks –
Ok… I know I just gave my whole shpeel about how I love food, don’t care about fancy and expensive restaurants, blah blah blah, and here I am writing my first post about ABC Kitchen. I know how this might look, but 1. what girl (person) doesn’t love a fancy restaurant every once in a while, 2. My boyfriends sister was in town visiting with her husband, so it was a special occasion, and 3. (I think my number 1 and 2 are pretty solid, but in case you need a third) My boyfriend, his sister, and her husband are all from Chicago, so we had to try ABC Kitchen, as it’s the same chef (and little did we know almost exactly the same menu) as the newly re-opened Pump Room in Chicago.
Truthfully, ABC Kitchen has been on my list forever. Even though we decided that we hate fancy/expensive restaurants, and even though we’ve been disappointed with every one that we’ve been really excited about thus far (i.e. Babbo, Beauty and Essex), I have heard nothing but excellent reviews of ABC Kitchen and for some reason, still wanted to give it a shot. I think my boyfriend (Dave, I will certainly be mentioning him a lot so might as well learn his name) was over it, but his sister requested it, so we kept the reservation that we had made exactly a month earlier (at 9am on the dot). While I was really excited to try ABC Kitchen because the menu looked great and I’ve heard so many good things about it, I also didn’t get my hopes up or go in there with the highest of expectations because of the huge disappointments I mentioned above.
One of the things I was most excited for was the fact that the menu itself was pretty simple and nothing too fancy. Dave and I had, of course, studied the menu beforehand and had 2 plans of action (one if Tracy and Chris wanted to share, and the other if they didn’t). But of course, before we could even get into the menu with them, we needed some cocktails. Dave ordered the sour cherry old fashioned and I got the ginger margarita. They both we’re awesome, but the ginger margarita had to have been one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. I think I finished it before we even ordered our apps. Whoops!
Anyway, back to the food. Much to our delight, Tracy and Chris wanted to share all of the appetizers that we thought looked good, so the four of us shared the chicken liver toast, pretzel dusted calamari with marinara and mustard aioli, kasha and bowtie pasta with veal meatballs, and whole wheat pizza with fennel sausage, heirloom tomato sauce, spigarello broccoli and pepato cheese (aka pizza with sausage and broccoli). No, I did not have any idea what spigarello was until I looked it up just now – According to rootsimple.com, Spigarello, more properly called Cavolo Broccolo a Getti di Napoli, is a leafy green that tastes a lot like broccoli. But unlike broccoli, you eat the leaves instead of the flowers. Well, I don’t know about the leaves vs. flowers situation, but it tasted pretty much like broccoli to me so there you go.
Although I’m sure that would have been a whole meal for most, all of our “starters” were awesome, but we were still excited for our entree. If I HAD to eliminate one though, I would probably do away with the pretzel dusted calamari. Even though the mustard aioli was awesome (I don’t think I even tried the marinara), they pretty much just tasted like regular calamari to me. I didn’t really taste the pretzel dusting part. I would highly recommend all the others though, and I don’t even think I could rank them.
For our entree, Dave and I shared the akaushi cheeseburger with herbed mayo and pickled jalapenos. If you’re wondering whether or not I know what akaushi is, the answer is no (well, WAS no. I just looked it up – this blog is already proving to be much more educational than I ever could have imagined). According to wikipedia, akaushi (roughly meaning “red cow”) is a Japanese Wagyu breed of cattle. The beef produced by Akaushi cattle is richly marbled with fat and produces a very tender, flavorful, and expensive variety of steak. Well, they certainly got the expensive part right. Our burger was $24 (probably the most expensive burger I’ve ever had), but it was delicious. Good call on the akaushi, ABC Kitchen! Also, it had jalapenos on it, and I love jalapenos so naturally it had to be good…
As if that wasn’t enough food, of course we wanted dessert. The four of us shared the seasonal donuts with warm peanut better sauce and the sundae with salted carmel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. To be honest, I could have done without the donuts (2/3 of them were filled with jelly, which I’m not really into), but the sundae was literally out of this world. Probably one of the best desserts that I’ve ever had. I love the sweet and salty combo, and to say that we pretty much licked the bowl clean is an understatement. And, not gonna lie, I dipped my spoon into the warm peanut butter sauce that came with the donuts before taking a bite of the sundae. It’s hard to believe that anything could make that sundae even more delicious, but if anything can do it, warm peanut butter sauce can.
Well, we were all very impressed with ABC Kitchen… until we saw the bill. It was around $180 per couple (including tax and tip), and though the meal was great, none of us thought it was $180 great. As I said in my previous post, you shouldn’t have to pay top dollar to get a great meal, especially when you can get one just as good for a third of the price (which was our plan for the next night at The Meatball Shop). Stay tuned!
Make a reservation at ABC Kitchen.