Hooray, it’s 2014! Back to work after a wonderful week with family and friends, rejuvenated and ready to tackle your career with passion and energy.
Who’s ready to play hooky?
If you are, come meet me at Lincoln Center. Sure, we can see “The Nutcracker fi you want to, but I had something else in mind. Something a little more…delicious.
Lincoln, Jonathan Benno’s Italian restaurant at Lincoln Center opened to great fanfare a few years ago, but the buzz quickly died down. Now, it’s often overlooked for flashy, new places that feature reclaimed wood, pop rocks in dessert, and tasting menus composed of 781 single bites.
Lincoln is in a large, modern space that seamlessly blends comfort and sweeping, striking aesthetics. The open kitchen is sparkling clean, the bar area is small but extremely well laid out, and the soaring windows give views of either 67th street or the iconic Met opera house. It seems laughable that a restaurant should be so dramatic yet so comforting, but there it is.
Now onto the important stuff…the food.
Don’t think pasta…think Italian inspired with seasonal dishes.
Butternut squash amuse bouche
This is what I man by seasonal. In snowy weather, I don’t want salmon ceviche. Give me something warming and comforting. Give me a sweet-savory soup with a spicy, crunchy topping.
In an adorable teacup.
All of which is excellent, not to say totally memorable. Crunchy, wheaty grissini and soft foccacia with pleasantly crunchy salt atop are the best of the lot.
Dip it in the accompanying eggplant and chickpea hummus. It’s rich, earthy, and positively velvet in texture. It has a nutty note from the chickpeas and roasted garlic adds a mellow, sweet note. It’s worth ordering an extra piece of foccacia just so that you can sop up every ounce of hummus without using your finger. As I did.
Chicory and Parmesan salad
The perfect winter salad. Nothing tarted up or overdone about it. No mealy out of season tomatoes. Just crisp, slightly bitter chicory and radicchio in a bracing, vinegary dressing. The cheese is excellent quality – it embraces the softer, nuttier sides of Parmesan that enhance and complement the lettuce instead of competing with it. Few salads show this amount of restraint, to this excellent effect.
Seared cobia with arugula custard, hen of the woods mushrooms, and cipollini onions
Oh yes. Cobia is meaty an rich, like a cross between swordfish and mahi-mahi. It’s juicy and thick, with a mild taste and buttery texture. Seared until the outside is lightly crispy with a wonderful salty crunch. The custard is pleasantly bitter, highlighting the sweet onions and the meaty, woodsy mushrooms. This is a very filling, thick cut of fish- it’s prepared beautiful and is balanced in taste and texture.
Apple semifreddo with apple cider doughnuts
This is how you do downtown-uptown food. Creamy semifreddo, somewhere between ice cream and nougat, filled with a pool of rich maple syrup and cubes of green apple gelee. Served alongside are dense, warm, spicy-sweet apple cider doughnuts. Tart, sweet, crunchy and cooling…these are all aspects of this dessert. A lovely finish to a lovely meal.
Oh, and don’t miss the bitter orange caramels from the mignardises plate, either.
Lincoln is just the type of place I want to visit more this year. It’s unique and has a distinctive view of food. Plus, the 2 course lunch special for $36 is a very fair deal and delicious to boot. The food is wonderfully tasty, the service is professional, and the atmosphere is totally lovely.
Like I said…wanna play hooky?