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ABV Wine Bar

Living on the upper, Upper East side can be a drag. Limited subway access makes it difficult to get downtown, and all that extra rent money you saved by movin' on up gets spent on cabs so you can get your ass back down to where people hang out. Up until recently, there hasn't been much of a trendy food scene in the East 90's, but the guys behind Earl's Beer & Cheese have changed that. Earl's is quickly becoming an institution on the UES, and the owners have smartly continued to build. Their latest venture is a wine, beer and communal food bar called ABV (alcohol by volume) and we're happy to report that it's awesome.

From the outside, ABV kind of looks like every other terrible bar/restaurant that lines the northern parts of First and Second Avenue. But don't be turned off by outward appearance. This industrial space has been laid out perfectly, with a combination of comfortable table dining, communal seating, bar stools, and an ample amount of hangout space for the bar crowd later in the evening. There's a nice variety of beers from Belgium, Germany, and Denmark, and an assortment of reasonably priced, worldly wine options. Session 73 this is most certainly not.

ABV is one of the more pleasant surprises we've dined in lately. Granted, we had zero expectations coming in, but those tend to be the most exciting finds. The menu of medium sized plates are built to share with friends while you drink, and while we hate sharing, we do like drinking and eating, so we'll take it. Don't sleep on the ridiculous, yet delicious foie gras fluffernutter, or the pork belly and egg-topped pocket burger. Our only complaint about ABV is that it's so far away. This neighborhood restaurant isn't only good because it's the only game in (Up)town. It would hold its own anywhere.

Food Rundown

Fried Pickles

Bite sized pieces of fried pickle are the ideal way to get down on this genius creation of a snack, and that's exactly how they serve it up at ABV. Leave the messy full spears for Snookie and enjoy your fried pickles in a civilized manner.

Winter Gnocchi

Simple, safe and a good share dish for the table, you can't go wrong with gnocchi. This one is served with root veggies and oyster mushrooms in a brown butter sauce, and it rules.

Tartare Pizza

A cute idea that's well executed and pretty damn tasty. Charred pita substitutes for the pizza dough and is topped with raw chopped beef, anchovies, and some olives. It will go nice with a glass of red wine. You snob.

Foie Gras Fluffernutter

Wow. This was crazy in the best possible way. It's basically a huge helping of warm, seared foie atop a thick slice of wonder bread with hazelnut crumble, sour apple, and peanut butter on the side. Get a fork full with a bit of everything in one bite and enjoy.

General Chang's Chicken Sandwich

ABV's version of steamed buns. We weren't crazy about them, as both the bun and the fried chicken were a little dry.

Pocket Burger

Best item on the menu. As our waitress described the pocket burger, "it's like a slider on steroids." Well said. The small-ish beef patty is deliciously topped with pork belly, cheddar, pickled onion, a waffle fry, and a fried egg. It's perfectly sized and won't put you out, but it'll fill the hole in your belly while still leaving room for the booze. Plus, it's served with jumbo tater tots as an added bonus.

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