28 February 2016
After 2 nights of Japanese dining I was hungry for something different on my final night in town. Today was a wash thanks to sleeping in a bit… So on a rather warm day, I didn’t do much all afternoon, just hanging out in my hood. Then dinner I headed to a place I’ve really come to like over the years, a giant, busy place that nevertheless come up with consistent cooking — Lincoln.
A big restaurant at a busy place like Lincoln Center needs a hell lot of discipline to run at a high level, and Jonathan Benno — the former true guru of Per Se — has created a wonderful place here. The menu changes seasonally, and Benno comes up with some marvels each time. And more importantly, he gets his large team working in some amazing synch and skill that I have never had a poorly-executed dish in history — even when everyone is in a rush to get to a performance. This is a well-oiled team, and tonight is no different.
Benno loves to play with regional cuisines of Italy, so when I was living in NYC I loved to time my visits to menu changes. I got there and went with a martini and played around with the menu. Then I ordered and relaxed. The place was not very busy as I timed it to the slower periods as people all rush out to performances. After an amuse, my first dish arrived, gamberi alla griglia…
Simple grilled white shrimp, not bad. Nothing special, but a good opening number to fuller items down the road. Then next up is the risotto…
This was brilliant, a rich, ox-y rendition, full of flavour with some excellent rice. Again, shows some discipline of the kitchen when a huge restaurant does the risotto rice perfectly. Loving this meal so far. And did I mention the wine pairings have been spot-on?
I relaxed a little after the risotto and the place was not as busy as usual. Maybe it’s Sunday? Or is it the loud party in the private dining area? In any case, the main soon arrived, brodetto…
Mmm, a great selection of seafoods, from branzino to shrimp, from mussels to octopus — with of course some nice couscous. A simple dish but hard to do right without overcooking things. Very nice. An excellent meal tonight. For a closer I asked for the pairing to end and to bring me a grappa instead, which would go well with the closing macedonia.
Now this was a wonderful, tropical fruit selection. I love more odd fruits as they really have more interesting flavours to offer without the over-juicy, over-sweet stuff from the over-developed “normal” fruits we get these days.
A good meal, perhaps not one of the top ones I’ve had here. One of my best ones was a few years ago, but this dinner showed the kitchen is still one of the best in the game — not just for its dishes, but also execution precision in this very challenging atmosphere. Jonathan Benno deserves a lot of credit for keeping this Michelin-starred restaurant working so well without dropping the quality or diversity of dishes.
My NYC trip ends on a good note. Highly recommended.
142 West 65th Street
New York, New York