When you own over thirty acclaimed restaurants around the world and your name is synonymous with fine dining, one would assume you have nothing left to prove. But Jean-Georges Vongerichten is someone for whom the grass can always be greener.
"She said it was one of the best dosas she'd ever tasted and suggested opening a plant-based restaurant together," Vongerichten recalled recently.
After four years of planning, Cole’s proposal is now seeing the light of day in Vongerichten's abcV, a mecca for vegetarian New Yorkers located next to ABC Cocina. Vongerichten, who has restaurants in eight different countries and was awarded four stars by the New York Times for his very first restaurant at the age of 29, enlisted Neal Harden, the former head chef of Pure Food & Wine, to execute the culinary vision with produce sourced from family-run farms. The menu features many eastern inspired dishes from Vongerichten's culinary explorations around Asia.
“Neal and I worked to ensure our menu was as nutritionally beneficial as possible, utilizing the inherent medicinal properties of plants to create dishes that are both delicious and good for the body,” Vongerichten said.
Sure enough, upon seating, you are handed a chart detailing the health benefits of each vegetable on offer. In need of Vitamin A? Be sure to order the kabocha squash dip. In the mood for a protein boost? Order the seitan mushroom stir fry. Vongerichten’s favorite dish is the kitchari, a rice and lentil entrée made from a recipe contributed by none other than eastern medicine guru Deepak Chopra, who, as it happens, has an office in the ABC complex called Homebase.
For dessert order the vegan coconut flan, or Vongerichten’s personal favorite, the matcha crème brulee, made from nut milk and matcha powder.
The airy, minimalist design scheme was overseen by Cole, who worked to create a casual, comfortable eatery that she considers to be ‘a sacred space’.
“The light and spaciousness allows us to take the time to breath, cleanse, and set intention,” she said of the sun-drenched all-white space she accentuated with pastel-colored bohemian quilts and throws. Fresh flowers line the tables and all food is served in artisanal ceramic bowls. “We have so much to learn from plant intelligence and their medicinal natures.”
“I believe in letting vegetables and fruits stand on their own," said Vongerichten. That means you won’t find veggie burgers upholstered with nut “cheese” or vegetable protein masquerading as meat. It’s the real deal. Order the mushroom dish and the avocado sliders. For dessert try the coconut parfait.
Your meal is set to a soundtrack of international world music, meant to inspire and relax.
The restaurant is open Tues-Wed, 5:30-10:30pm, Thurs, 5:30-11pm and Fri-Sat, 5:30-11:30pm. Takeout available. 38 East 19th Street, New York, New York. For reservations call, 212-475-5829 or book here.
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