It might seem a little weird to go to a restaurant with no kitchen.
And yet, that’s just what I’m suggesting you do.
Marcus Samuelsson’s American Table Cafe and Kitchen isn’t fancy. It is nice, since it’s in Lincoln Center’s beautiful atrium, and there is a full bar. But the napkins are paper, the staff is laid back, and you order at the counter.
And. oh yeah…all the food is pre cooked, then assembled there.
How does that work?
Pretty well, evidently.
Oh YES! This stuff is just fabulous. Spicy, fragrant berbere mixes with chicken that is so tender, so rich, so flavorful that anyone would swear it was pork. It has the smoky sweet flavor of bbq with the curry-like tastes of ginger and chiles. A few hard boiled egg yolks are a nice color and textural component. Served with fresh, salty tortilla chips, pico de gallo, and a scoop of creamy cottage cheese, it is a mix between Mexican, Indian, and Ethiopian foods.
It’s a million vibrant flavors smacking you in the face.
Less successful, but still tasty. The lettuce is fresh, the pumpernickel croutons are crunchy, but the dressing is a bit too smoky and lacks acid. It is tasty enough, though, and the portion is large and the price is right.
This place sin’t cheap or expensive – its what you wouldexpect to pay in this hood for quick service food, but the food is so much better than I anticipated. The service is definitely relaxed (leaning on the lackadaisical side), but the food is phenomenal! Go with a book or a friend and have a lunch so great that you will never believe that there was no kitchen involved.
It’s amazing at what Samuelsson can do with no kitchen…and how little some people can do with a kitchen.
Not pointing fingers, every family member who ever cooked me Passover dinner as a child.