If there were any doubts that the neighborhood where ABV is located was sorely in need of a hip eatery, the crowds that pack into this new wine bar-restaurant most nights have put them to rest.
ABV - on the nexus of the Upper East Side and Harlem - has answered the prayers of many area residents looking for an alternative to the frat-style bars and Irish pubs on nearby First and Second avenues.
Chef Corey Cova, who previously cooked at neighborhood favorite Earl's Beer & Cheese, is all about combining high- and low-brow ingredients - among his signature dishes is a Foie Gras Fluffernutter Sandwich on Wonder Bread ($17). Great attention was also paid to creating dishes that pair well with wine and beer. The menu is divided into Small Plates (including deep-fried pickles served with miso mayo, $5), Medium Plates (including beef tartare pizza, $12), Large Plates (think Cornish game hen, $18), and Dessert Plates (we love the quirky astronaut ice cream, served with celery root tapioca, $10). Weekend brunch is also served.
Because it's located diagonally across from a school, ABV isn't permitted to serve hard liquor, but that doesn't mean it can't serve enticing cocktails, such as the Sippy Cup (vermouth, amaro, ginger, lime and bitters, $11). As for wine, ABV offers several lesser-known names that range from $7-$14 for glasses and $40-$50 for bottles. Tastes are also available for $3. "We have wines from friends' cellars, some cult California wines, a few spendy items - but overall, the focus is on value," said co-owner Alexis Kahn. Lesser-known and Euro brews are also key. "There's a huge focus on American craft beer right now, but we can't forget who inspired it alll," Kahn said.
ABV inherited its brick walls, but the owners added industrial style-details and chandeliers made of plumbing pipes. The space has two bars - a wine bar and a food bar located in front of an open kitchen. Communal tables add to the feel. "It's really fun. We've had zero problems with people sharing, and they seem to be making friends," said Kahn.
Fun fact: ABV stands for "alcohol by volume."
If you go: 1504 Lexington Ave., at 97th Street, 212-722-8959