Abigael’s (1407 Broadway – at 39th Street, New York, NY; Tel: 212.575.1407) calls to mind the posh elegance of the bygone era where films like My Man Godfrey, with William Powell and Carole Lombard, were set. It is a classy, sedate and uniquely appointed restaurant. Yet… the simple but rich atmosphere and decor, are not all that attract the eye and whet the palate at Abigael’s… The dishes are inspired and delicious!
I met Chef Jeff Nathan in the small private library (one of various party rooms at Abigael’s). There, amidst the Soncino Talmud and the Encyclopedia Britannica we discussed what precipitated his becoming a Chef. As a member of a generation where every Jewish parent dreamed of “my son the doctor” or “my son the lawyer,” Jeff Nathan journeyed against the grain and, after a stint in the US Navy, attended the Culinary Institute of America. Driven to transcend and surpass, as in all else he ever attempted, chef Nathan dominated the competition and graduated at the top of his class in 1980.
Since 1998 he has been the chef/host of PBS’ “New Jewish Cuisine, the only international gourmet Kosher cooking series, which is seen in four countries and translated into three languages.” He is also a kosher and restaurant consultant to various food and wine producers.
I started the meal with with Abigael’s Ultimate Sushi Platter which consisted of three sushi rolls.
The three rolls are: Tempura Trio (salmon, tuna, and fluke, tempura fried, with avocado, masago and scallions), Broadway (seaweed roll with tuna, yellow-tail and salmon, cucumber, avocado, Japanese dressing and masago), and Green Tea (yellowtail and avocado, topped with salmon, spicy tuna tartar and sweet wasabi soy sauce). Though fish and sushi are but a recently acquired tastes of mine, I did find the platter beautifully presented and deliciously toothsome to eat.
I then tried their Smoked Brisket Eggroll (Texas style, with barbecue vinaigrette and a chipotle potato salad). This dish fully demonstrates the creativity of Jeff Nathan as he metamorphoses the quintessentially traditional Brisket with a saucy bold new flavor and crispy exterior. Flavorful, as my mother used to say, ta’am fun ganeiden!
I followed that full flavored brisket with the Crispy Asian Chicken (crisp fried and tossed with spicy chile sauce, served with sweet and sour sesame-cucumber slaw).
Presentation was again an eyeful and the taste was quite savory.
A Latin American bred carnivore to the core, I loved the Argentine Smoked Short Ribs (house smoked rib tossed tossed with BBQ vinaigrette and chimi churri with scallion whipped potatoes).
The ribs were succulent, heavenly smoked and spiced, cooked to tender perfection. The scallion whipped potatoes… just right!
Great dinner, in a great atmosphere, though missing Carole Lombard or Myrna Loy by my side, but life… isn’t perfect, could I really ask for more?