We received a slightly ominous email yesterday about our story on A.G. Bistro, the restaurant that replaced Italian spot Nonna on 85th and Columbus: “Your informants are wrong about A.G. Bistro.” (If only we had “informants,” this site would be much cooler.)
Anyway, even though we had heard from a restaurant employee that Alex Garcia was involved with the new restaurant, it turns out he’s not. Garcia runs A.G. Kitchen on 72nd Street, which is owned by the same company as A.G. Bistro.
Check out a press release about the restaurant below, and a photo of the menu from one of our “informants” below.
“A.G. Bistro a/k/a All Good Bistro (520 Columbus Ave @85 St. 212-579-3194 www.agbistronyc.com) is a collaboration between Jeremy Wladis’ The Restaurant Group and consultant Chef Gerry Hayden. Hayden happened to be the chef at a restaurant in this exact location, Il Nostro circa 1989, so when Wladis decided to re-brand the restaurant Nonna in the exact same location, he was determined to find a way to involve and *help his friend and former chef.
A.G. Bistro, presents a gallery of food and diners are encouraged to mix and match, play and share and overall have fun with the selections being offered. Not traditional in the least, the restaurant re-defines what most diners perceive as a bistro. The menu does not follow the rules and jumps around from France, Italy, Spain and America and lands on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Therefore diners get to do the same as all plates are medium in size and 3 plates per person is encouraged. The white washed brick walls have been hand painted with life-sized drawings of pin-up posters, which add a bit of glamour to the fun.
It takes a village to raise a restaurant especially in a collaborative and part of A.G. Bistro’s village is Chef Stella Sellian. It’s a very good thing that the plates are small in size because they are all big in flavor and Chef Sellian’s cooking will have diners’ taste buds dancing. There is a Must Have section of the menu (and we mean it!) These are bite-sized portions of chef’s creations for the entire table to dig into: Chorizo in a Blanket with saffron mustard, French Kisses-foie gras stuffed prunes with Armagnac lavender honey, and Mini-Meatballs Au Poivre. You may never want tired old steak au poivre again. Other big things in small packages include Vegetarian Quinoa Cakes made with zucchini, feta, and topped with a roasted pepper yogurt; Tuna Nicoise Burger, a tuna patty, sliced hard-boiled egg, tapenade aioli, haricot vert slaw, on a 7- grain bun and Hangar Steak with Chimichurri. For purists there is Seared Salmon, French lentil salad,
mustard-dill butter, and of course a juicy Burger made with Pat LaFrieda blend, topped with bacon, cheddar, citrus aioli on a brioche bun. Sweets are not to be missed and Chef Hayden’s homey selections include Warm flourless Valhrona chocolate cake with vanilla mascarpone cream, and Rustic Apple-Cranberry crostada with Cinnamon ice cream.
Cocktails by mixologist Christian Post are titled by the color (Quentin Tarantino style) given by their main liquor ingredient, order a Mr. Gold (Margarita with Anejo Tequila) Mr. Red (A.G.’s Manhattan with a touch of grenadine) or Mr. Purple (a rum cocktail with egg whites and Parfait Amour) or how about a cocktail flight to match the various tastes of the plates. A wine drinker? A selection of half bottles and wines by the carafe (half or full) allow the entire dining experience to be mix ‘n match.
With its cozy 65-seat interior, and 40-seat sidewalk café, this corner space has housed Upper Westsiders’ favorite restaurants for over 20 years. Il Nostro, Joe’s Crab Shack, Avenue and Nonna have all fed a generation of people and the space alone has built an ardent following. With A.G. Bistro, the legacy continues and history repeats itself.
*Our friend and colleague Gerry Hayden is stricken with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. A.G. Bistro will donate a percentage of all dessert sales and a percentage of the entire restaurant’s profits to Hayden’s Heroes, an organization established to raise awareness of ALS and further research for a cure.
Click menu below to enlarge:
Phew! Cutting through the fog of press-relations jargonized verbiage, plainly the owners *want* you think this is an Alex Garcia operation, like the other “AG” locations, when in fact it’s not. All Good!
Maybe next year, when the owners “re-brand” it yet again, they should try “BLT Never”, which of course stands for “Better Late Than”. Surely no one would be misled into thinking that was a Laurent Tourondel restaurant like BLT Steak or BLT Fish or Bistro Laurent Tourondel — would they?
Of course not.