Spending $20 million on a single restaurant is big time, even for New York City, so on a recent visit, I was thrilled to have lunch at Lincoln Ristorante, the new showstopper at the Lincoln Center complex on the upper west side.
The 150-seat restaurant opened late last year to much hullabaloo, because the restaurant’s executive chef is Jonathan Benno, who had been Thomas Keller’s right hand man at the celebrated Per Se on Columbus Circle.
The Lincoln’s high-concept design is lovely to look at: think of a huge wedge of cake with a green lawn for icing. From inside, the building’s floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow views of the Juilliard School of Music and the Henry Moore sculptures in the Lincoln Center’s reflecting pool. The restaurant’s kitchen is all glass too, so you can watch the staff cook and feel like you are inside a kitchen aquarium.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed in the food. My spaghetti al fescue (halibut, capers, tomatoes, and bread crumbs) tasted like the top fell off the salt shaker, although my cousin’s pork belly and parsnips were more successful. On the plus side, the service at Lincoln was impeccable, and it was fun to feel like an elegant, rich New Yorker for an hour or so.
I think my mother-in-law Joan Yoken summed up Lincoln Ristorante just right: “If you are going to the theater, and you want an easy and convenient lunch, I’d come again. Otherwise, probably not.”
Since my point-and-shoot photos don’t begin to capture the sizzle of the place, check out Sam Sifton’s review in The New York Times.