ABC Kitchen has been one of the trailblazers in the New York dining scene when it comes to “locavore” food that focuses on vegetable-focused seasonal ingredients. The restaurant from acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten was led by his lieutenant Dan Kluger before the latter decided to make a name for himself with a restaurant of this own. I’ve had mixed experiences at ABC Kitchen (all the focus on seasonality didn’t seem to always translate into flawless execution, although if I chose dishes carefully, I could have quite a satisfying meal), and wanted to see what chef Kluger is putting together as a coming out party for himself. Has he made a loud statement that he is now officially out of the shadow of the mini ABC empire of Jean-Georges? Loring Place seemed to bring more or less the same types of dishes on my recent visit to the restaurant with my girlfriend and another couple. Still, the kitchen overall had a good number of solid to excellent dishes.
Given that we were a party of four, we were able to order a lot of dishes for sharing. The best dishes from the dinner at Loring Place came from the spreads section. I swear I could eat everyday the exceptionally delicious hummus and radishes that you can dip with red wheat and sunflower seed crackers. Baked ricotta and roasted kabocha was another standout dish that I happily spread on top of the grilled sourdough breads. The vegetable starters were a bit of a mixed bag. Among the dishes that we sampled, my favorite was the refreshing leeks and pears salad with walnuts, yogurt and sherry vinaigrette that served as an ideal appetizer before getting over to heavier dishes. Wood grilled broccoli salad with orange, pistachios and mint was also very solid. On the other hand, I was definitely disappointed by the crispy, spiced cauliflower with Meyer lemon jam and chilies (there didn’t seem to be enough emphasis on the crunchy texture of cauliflower and the overall flavor seemed somewhat off), and roasted winter squash with brussels sprouts and hazelnut vinaigrette could’ve toned down the seasoning a little bit.
The larger dishes had some hits and misses too. I very much enjoyed the nicely cooked Pekin duck, although the kale, almonds and dried fruit compote that accompanied the meat had a bit too aggressive seasoning. Portfolio mushroom pizza with ricotta, mozzarella, cherry peppers and oregano was delicious, especially with the peppers that added a bit of spicy kick to the thin crust pie. On the other hand, one of our dining companions was supremely underwhelmed by the gemelli pasta with Maine crabmeat, parmesan, lemon and jalapenos and mint, and I did think that the dish had just too much going on in flavor without coming together as a coherent dish. For dessert, vanilla ice cream “blizzard” with pretzels, walnut toffee, chocolate cookie-fudge and Meyer lemon was definitely a standout dish that offered tons of pure decadence, while baked money bread with cranberries, syrup and housemade yogurt seemed to fall short of everyone’s expectations.
Loring Place, not surprisingly, is one of the hottest tickets in town (who wouldn’t want to eat at the restaurant from a chef who used to work at fan favorite ABC Kitchen?), so just book way in advance or try your luck at the bar area. There is full bar with healthy-looking cocktail selections employing fruit and vegetable elements. I liked the chic, trendy vibe of the venue and suspect that the team behind Loring Place must’ve been pretty determined to one up the intimate vibe from ABC Kitchen. Loring Place isn’t perfect but it still offers dishes that are delicious while also making you feel less guilty in terms of ingredients. I would love to see how the kitchen evolves over time to bring more novel ways of eating in a sustainable manner.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 21 West 8th Street, New York, NY 10011
Telephone: (212) 388-1831