The main thing about Restaurant Week is that it gives you a chance to get a taste of various chefs, cuisines, and venues for very little–at least for a fine meal. Take Lincoln Ristorante, for example; it’s a gorgeous place right on Lincoln Center Plaza, (nytimes) but it isn’t cheap and we wondered if it would be worth going–a perfect opportunity for Restaurant Week. So, when The Week arrived, six good friends reserved for the $25 lunch to see what they do with three courses.Looking out is splendid and inside is pretty nice, too. (nymag.com) I especially like the rest rooms–six private gender-neutral cabins–very classy.
The food was very fine with all six diners rating it Zagat-style from 23 to 25 for food, 25-26 for decor and 26 for service and everyone liked the two 4-ounce glasses of red and white you could order for $12. Almost all of us started with the cold squash soup with saffron, yogurt and almonds which was creamy and delicious on a very hot day.Then they gave us an amuse-bouche of whipped ricotta on crustata–delicious– and I love these little freebies.
We moved on to the pasta–bucatini by name, said by one diner to be great, by another to be good not great and to the sesame crusted albacore with olives and grapes–that everybody seemed to like; I thought it was perfectly all right though not my favorite, but then I don’t much care for tuna. Why order it then, you may ask? well, they were going to have sea bream, but didn’t and this is of course one of the limitations of Restaurant Week. You may only get two or three choices or sometimes only one, so you have to be OK with that. You can always order off the special menu and lunch is not usually too pricey even at the best restaurants. Check the online menu before you go, but be prepared to accept last minute changes by the restaurant–that’s their privilege.
We finished with a kind of watermelon/almond crema–or gelata al melone–pronounced by all to be excellentand an almond milk and prickly pear sorbet–beautiful and delicious.They surprised us with wonderful homemade cannoli which brought to an end this light and refreshing new-style Italian lunch.The portions are modest, says one friend, but then, how much do you want to eat anyway? plus you do get three courses with two little extras–it’s really enough and remember, you’re there to taste.
So go out with friends and get the advantage of their opinion (also taste their choices); you might return for a regular lunch or dinner. We’ve done that when we have had especially good food and service. Smart restaurants know this and do their best for you at this special time. We have also had the opposite experience during Restaurant Week, where a famous restaurant (that shall be nameless) treated us with an insouciance that surprised and annoyed us. Needless to say, we won’t be returning there any time soon. Many restaurants don’t bother with RW but we really like it when they do and we can go on our tasting mission. A tip–although your favorite place may do an RW menu, try someplace a bit adventurous–that’s what this fun time is for.