It looks like the inside of Gwyneth Paltrow’s brain: The crisp, spacious room is a Goop-y stretch of all-white furniture, with pops of color courtesy artisanal ceramic plate ware, millennial-pink wall panels and boho banquettes draped in handwoven Andean textiles that likely cost more than your rent. Each menu—already littered with wellness buzzwords like “restorative tonics” and divided into categories that include Energizing & Fresh and Warm & Sustaining—arrives with a supplementary insert chart detailing the health benefits of various vegetables. (Eggplant is “an ally to your arteries and circulation,” FYI.)
This chia-bowl wonderland is ABCV, the latest expansion of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Paulette Cole’s ABC restaurant empire (ABC Kitchen, ABC Cocina) inside Flatiron’s ABC Carpet & Home complex, and the V stands not for “vagina steaming” (sorry, Paltrow) but for “vegetables.” Though the ABC brand has always been taken with hyperfresh produce—no doubt buoyed by the complex’s proximity to the Union Square Greenmarket—ABCV is Vongerichten’s first meat-free spot, and his first ABC project without Dan Kluger in the kitchen. (Kluger left the group in 2014 to open Loring Place.)
Instead, chef de cuisine Neal Harden (formerly of the prominent raw-food restaurant Pure Food and Wine) oversees the burners and challenges vegetarian eating’s bland, Bikram-yogi connotations with bold flavors and global zest. Beluga lentils thrum with black vinegar ($13), carpaccio-thin slices of roasted beets show pluck from Dijon and pickles ($13), and the earthy sweetness of rainbow carrots finds an unexpected mate in a smudge of nut butters ($11). Even lettuce cups—those spiritless tokens of bread-free diet regimens—are rousingly packed with enough creamy avocado, toasted cumin and bright serrano chilies to make you forget all about carbohydrates ($13).
There’s plenty of fun to be had in Harden’s ready-to-share small plates. A scroll of Indian dosa is made to rip and drag through tart yogurt and tangles of sprouts ($14). Lively dips—a green chickpea hummus with a small round of fresh pita ($13) or delicately garlicky laban with crunchy fingerling chips ($12)—are best enjoyed over an order (or three) of Matcha Coladas. And the tender, mildly nutty leaves of a whole roasted artichoke are primed for a dip in a pool of Sicilian olive oil ($15). It adds up to a vivacious counterpoint to all of vegetarianism’s surface virtuosity. Hell, maybe Goop is on to something.