Ah, the moment Jonathan Benno and his monied backers have been waiting over a year for. Sam Sifton has filed his review on their $20 million restaurant Lincoln. And it's not so pretty. The review is no train wreck, but a big fat deuce is certainly not what Benno, a chef with four star ambitions, was aiming for.
Sifton starts with the disclaimers: Benno knows how to cook, some bites are like sonnets, the pasta is luscious, "tasting of open ocean and marsh." But when he goes beyond the food, it all begins to unravel:
But such success in the kitchen does not mean Lincoln yet works well as a restaurant...They have built a restaurant that lacks a center — a restaurant in which it is possible to eat well without really having a good time.Also, it's crazy expensive! A single scallop for $24, tripe and pasta for $28, a side of eggplant parm for $16. He concludes, "Lincoln’s prices make more of a difference than they might anywhere that wasn’t the campus of a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of the arts and education of the people. Yes, the food is terrific. But we go to Lincoln Center for both more and less than that."
...while restaurants are about good food, they are also about customer comfort, about space and its uses, cuisine and price, art and artifice. Lincoln at the moment, with its 150 seats just off the main court of the greatest collection of performing arts institutions in the United States, lacks those last two aspects most of all.
· Lincoln Ristorante [NYT]