Inside is like stepping outside. Except for the warmth, I wouldn’t be surprised to look up and see the evening sky. There are trees and plants, and they blend together as though we’re sitting in someone’s backyard, rather than in a restaurant with New York outside its doors. When we sit, I notice the small china plates we have – and that ours don’t always match the other tables. There’s a small vase on the table, shaped like a square bottle of perfume, filled with greens and tiny blue flowers. Even though spring hasn’t quite arrived yet, you think it might have, and someone forgot to tell you where to find it.
We are so caught up in conversation that we don’t immediately look at the menu – although once we do, it’s difficult to decide where to start. Our patient waiter recommends ordering everything at once, so that the kitchen can pace the meal accordingly. After confirming that we have ordered well, we sit back to continue conversation with our drinks. I am surprised by the tartness of the Strawberry Royale, but in a way that is intriguing rather than off-putting. My friend seems satisfied with her martini, made with gin from the Berkshires and poured into a classic martini glass at the table.
When our appetizers arrive, I am momentarily unsure; my fluke is hiding under a layer of something. When I bite into it, the texture of the grated celery root contrasts with the smoothness of the fluke, and the horseradish provides a touch of sinus-clearing spice at the end. It’s a clean start to the meal. Not long after we have finished, our dinner arrives. The asparagus and ricotta pizza smells wonderful, and looks so very green. Our lobster has been split in two and served still in its shell. It’s unclear where to start first. The lobster wins out, and I take a bite. It’s spicy, though I shouldn’t be surprised; a lemon-chili vinaigrette was mentioned. I can’t help but think of summer down the Cape. I only had my first lobster roll three years ago, and lobster still feels like a revelation when it’s fresh and well-seasoned like this. Though I am intimidated by the shell at first, I move past it in pursuit of any hidden pieces of meat. Pursuit of lobster is only interrupted to sample the pizza. It is spring in a bite, small green rounds of asparagus complimented by light ricotta and small bits of crispy prosciutto, as well as a slightly burnt, chewy crust.
Though I’m happily full by the time we have finished, I can’t help but be sad that the meal is nearing the end. I’m already thinking about how I might be able to create a pale imitation of the pizza at home, with all the fresh asparagus coming in. We consider the dessert menu, and painstakingly decide against it, agreeing instead to come back at another date to pay our respects to the famous sundae, or perhaps one or more of the mouthwatering selections. We settle up, and I find the restroom. As I am washing my hands, I notice words in the burnished glass, almost as if someone was trying to find them while rubbing it clean. ‘In pursuit of magic’, it says. For tonight, abc kitchen succeeded in finding it.