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The Early Word on Hot Latin Newcomer ABC Cocina

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ABC Cocina, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Latin-themed spinoff of ABC Kitchen, opened less than two weeks ago in the space formerly occupied by Pipa. Like its sister restaurant next door, ABC Cocina serves food made with locally-sourced ingredients in a space designed by the senior creative team at ABC Carpet & Home. Dan Kluger, the chef from ABC Kitchen, is running the kitchen, turning out a menu of small plates and dishes that are cooked on a wood-fired grill. The reviews are already streaming in for one of the hottest new restaurants in the city right now, and so far the early word is almost all good. Here's what people are saying about ABC Cocina:

The Outstanding News: The blogger at NYC Tastes loves her meal from start to finish. On the fluke with green chili dressing: "Wow — this was like spring in a bowl. I loved the bright acidic chili dressing and the fun little pop each bite created from the crispy rice. It was quite a whimsical and fun little dish. " Another standout: "The Short Rib was thick and meaty, not shredded like you may imagine, with round crisp onions. I loved the combo of spicy relish with the sweet, soft corn tortilla. The flavors were absolutely wonderful." [NYC Tastes]

The Good News: There's only two Yelp reviews so far. One Yelper has praise for the "dark, super sexy version of ABC Kitchen." The reviewer gives four stars for dishes like the fluke with green chili dressing and the ribs in chimichurri, but she does find a few misses. The banana in the banana rhubarb daiquiri "gave a weird grainy texture that wasn't appealing," she writes. The Yelper also particularly dislikes the ancho chili paste atop fried calamari: "The chili paste overpowered the calamari and had this thick consistency. I felt like I was eating Marmite. We sent it back." The other Yelper awards four stars and notes: "The spring pea guacamole is a game-changer." [Yelp]

The Great News: A Chowhounder writes about a few favorites from an early meal: "[T]he crunchiness of [the] crispy rice went well with tender fluke. 'Shrimp with sizzling garlic and chili oil' was really spicy but flavorful with fried garlic aroma. 'Spicy glazed baby back ribs' was a generous portion of three meaty, tender back ribs. I liked that place very much too. IMHO, ABC Cocina's food was the best of all the big places that opened recently." [Chowhound]

The Guac News: Quite a few diners have high praise for the spring pea guacamole including James Mulcahy of Zagat: "Like many of the other dishes, the guacamole in this Mexican-inspired eatery incorporated crazily fresh produce and, in doing so, became crazily good. Here, there were some spring peas in the mix, and additional texture came courtesy of sunflower seeds. There was a lot of lime in the mix, and the citrus-forward mix was a fitting way to start off a memorable meal." [Zagat]

The Very Good News: The blogger from NYC Anna files an early report: "To start, Mezcal Cured Salmon with cucumber-yogurt relish sounded like a winning choice. Such a light and delicate dish. Salmon was great, not too salty and had a wonderfully soft texture. Yogurt and cucumber reminded me of Greek tzatziki. Interesting combination. Definitely a must try...The tacos were an absolute must. Probably the most inventive and tasty tacos I've tried in a while." [NYC Anna]

The Slightly Pricey News: Mouthfuls User JoetheFoodie offers some ordering advice: "[Y]our bill can add up quickly here (especially if you and your friend drink like fish — cocktails are $15 or more). But what we ate was mostly very good, if not terribly exciting. I also think you can have a quite nice meal without spending a ton if you stick to the tacos area of the menu; both our fish tacos and mushroom tacos were fine. I also liked the rendition of crab fritters, housemade chorizo was excellent, and the classic shrimp in oil and garlic was tasty." [Mouthfuls]

The Beachy News: On Fork in the Road, Laura Shunk chimes in with more praise for the guacamole and the fluke. The blogger also disagrees with that Yelper about the banana rhubarb daiquiri: "We don't often see banana in drinks that aren't smoothies, which makes the rhubarb-banana daiquiri here stand out. Bartenders muddle banana and add fresh-pressed rhubarb juice and rum before straining it into a coupe. Equal parts tart and sweet (but not cloyingly so), we suspect we could pound enough of these to get in trouble, especially on a warm late-spring day." [FiTR]

The Greene News: Gael Greene has already stopped by ABC Cocina at least a couple of times, and calls it "top brass." She tweets: "Loved guacamole w/peas, maitake w/goat cheese, spring pea empanada. pork taco. passion fruit sundae," and more recently, "marvelous pea soup w/avocado & raw veggies @ABCCocina lastngt.And spicy glazed ribs, great flavor, too soft." [Twitter]

The Loud News: Eater commenter MomoBabay writes: "[T]he place is quite stylish but the noise level does rise dramatically as the restaurant fills up. Could not hear the bartender unless it was up close. Tapas are good, but not spectacular. Nice place to unwind after work." [Eater Comments]

The Foursquare News: A couple of tipsters recommend the arroz con pollo, but another offers a thorough plan of attack: "It's a feast. Skip salad, order raw to start, followed by any of the tacos and jump straight into the rices." And in case you were wondering: "Oprah? She is in the back with her girls." [Foursquare]

· All Coverage of ABC Cocina [~ENY~]

ABC Kitchen

35 East 18th Street, Manhattan, NY 10003 (212) 475-5829 Visit Website

ABC Cocina

38 E 19th St., New York, NY 10003 212 677 2233

ABC Cocina

38 E 19th St, New York

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