Review: Lincoln

10 October 2013
Upper West Side

I’ve recovered somewhat after a fortnight since returning from that very trying trip to London. Kept a pretty low profile since getting back to New York, as I needed to sort out the logistics of my upcoming move. This is why I keep all my boxes even after I finish moving…

But for now I’m returning to my roots, when music was the centre of my life. I had a series of impressive concerts coming up — all at The Iridium in Manhattan. And tonight, after dinner, is a short but interesting set by the legendary Ginger Baker. I wanted to treat myself before the gig, so I decided to finally (I’ve put it off so long, not sure why) trek north-west and go to the very-well regarded Lincoln.

Not surprisingly, the restaurant is located at Lincoln Center, and is popular with many diners heading to events. My show didn’t begin until 10pm, so I had some flexibility, so took my time and enjoyed my evening. The restaurant was already busy before 7pm, but the one thing I noticed — it was extremely dark. So dark I could barely read my menu even with my phone light — so I do apologise about the edited photos.

The drinks menu featured an entire section on make-your-own Negroni, so that was a nice touch for NYC. My server suggested using rye (off the menu) instead, and that sounded intriguing so I did so, making my Negroni with Rittenhouse rye, Campari and Carpano Antica. It was delicious, as the rye brought out an extra herby complexity. Not too bitter for a pre-dinner drink. Excellent.

After relaxing a little I gave my order — both food and drink — to my server, much to his approval (he’s already happy with my Negroni selection). The wine list here is fantastic, but with already a Negroni in and a long night with more booze at The Iridium, I decided to self-pair my courses.

Pretty soon the first dish arrived, il crudo di capesante — day-boat sea scallops. To be honest, these didn’t work at all. I could barely see my dish, though I can see the scallops were sliced so thin there was essentially no flavour. The urchin helped, but this was the blandish tasting scallops I’ve ever had. The key is to bring out the sweetness of the scallops — like the fabulous scallops crudo I had at Texture in London — but this fails, badly.

1-scallops_edited

At least the glass of Kerner from Trentino was good… The photo has been severely edited so you could see something. I was severely disappointed at this point, as I felt this place was so promising…

Then my second course, the first of two pasta dishes, arrived, and finally we start to see some of Jonathan Benno’s genius. Many questioned his post-Per Se move, but this dish was better than anything I’ve ever eated at Per Se…

2-strozzapreti_edited

Gli strozzapreti al ragù di mare was utterly fantastic, one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in years. The strozzapreti boasted extreme richness from the bounties of the sea, leaving every tasting like some special experience. The spicy peppers added the kick that brought this dish from excellent to extraordinary, a perfect balance rarely achieved in large restaurants. Kudos to Chef Benno and the kitchen team for execution! I enjoyed this course with an excellent rose cannonau from Sardinia…mmm…

That last dish redeemed the first and more. Wow, it was really memorable, and pulled off in a big restaurant. That’s the real surprising thing. Obviously running a kitchen like Per Se helped Benno with quality control in a crazy busy place like Lincoln. I was utterly impressed. What scallops?

My second pasta dish was next, which I paired with a simple Nero d’Avola. I garganelli e ciauscolo… At this point I can say Lincoln is the best place for pasta in NYC, it’s better than all of Batali’s places…

3-garganelli_edited

The garganelli was again cooked perfectly, this time with the tasty smoked sausage ciauscolo and sheep ricotta. The menu is featuring items from Marche, so I figured I’d try one of the specialties tonight. Excellent taste, a completely different monster from the previous pasta, the perfect balance once again. Kudos once more to the kitchen (and to my excellent selections!).

I was relaxed and happy and surprisingly I went for a dessert of gelato and a little grappa before I headed out to The Iridium. But here’s a photo that shows how bloody dark it was. I tried editing the same photo but couldn’t do much. This juxtaposition shows my main gripe with this restaurant.

4-gelati

I headed out very happy, having had 2 scrumptious and amazing pasta dishes that showed off both Benno’s flair *and* his staff’s execution. I told the staff that “they were too good” for serving people rushing off to shows. The service was fantastic too. An excellent dining experience.

I then headed down to The Iridium, only to end up queuing for over an hour to get into the Ginger Baker gig…

Let’s just say this was not the Ginger we all knew and loved from years past. Nowhere near even how he played during the Cream reunion shows a few years back. It’s an old man struggling, and it was a little sad to see. I wish it was as dark in The Iridium as it was in Lincoln on this one night as I downed a few martinis getting through his set…

Lincoln
Lincoln Center
142 West 65th Street
New York, New York

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3 thoughts on “Review: Lincoln

  1. Pingback: Review: Lemaire | melhuang1972

  2. Pingback: Review #2: Lincoln | melhuang1972

  3. Pingback: Review: Armando al Pantheon | melhuang1972

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