Most people who’ve eaten at Abigail Street have favorite dishes that they order on every visit: the Moroccan spiced broccoli, for example, or the mussels charmoula, with its perfect balance of saffron, creaminess, and tomatoey acidity. The amazing thing about Abigail Street is that many of the new items on the menu have the same perfected feeling as these classics.
Working within a loose framework of Middle Eastern and North African flavors, Abigail Street has never fallen into a routine that would sap its energy. It tries new directions without losing its sense of what ties the menu together. New offerings like the duck leg confit, with spicy-sour harissa flavors, firm-tender butternut squash, and perfectly made couscous, feel just as accomplished as old favorites like the falafel, beautifully moist and crumbly with a bright parsley interior.
When we remarked how much we liked the roasted acorn squash with greens and goat cheese from the fall menu, our server mentioned that the dish had initially come out as a whole squash, served like a jack-o’-lantern with a lid. This bit of whimsy was quickly abandoned, though, when the staff saw people were finding it hard to cut and share. The redesigned dish featured pre-trimmed and sliced roasted squash so it was easy to pass around. This, I thought, is how Abigail Street has stayed so consistent for so long, and why the new dishes are the equals of the classics. The restaurant is always watching for what works and is willing to abandon bits of impractical culinary flair for what will truly satisfy, to sacrifice the superficially interesting in favor of the essential.
1214 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 421-4040, abigailstreet.com