This is what awesomeness looks like.
This is the ticket my waiter received when my parents and I had Father’s Day dinner. Matt, our ridiculously awesome amazing waiter, showed it to me after our meal. Sorry that the qualities so poor, but down in the bottom it reads “ALLERGY,” which means Matt was prepped before he even got to our table. That translates to a fantastic and safe experience for me.
Lincoln, which I believe opened two years ago, is located right in Lincoln Center which is undoubtedly one of the prettiest structures in New York. Though I rarely comment on the ambience of a restaurant (I do notice, I’m just too lazy to blog about it), I have to give a Lincoln a shout out for utilizing their beautiful location. The walls on three sides (I think) are entirely glass so you really feel like your eating in the middle of Lincoln Center. Anyway, on to the food.
As Matt stood at our table taking our orders, he reviewed the ingredients of everything I ordered with me, assuring me he’d also of course make sure the kitchen was aware of all of allergies. Having a waiter who could run through ingredients with me and who was so attentive already put me at ease before a bite of food entered my mouth!
After ordering, a food runner brought an amuse bouche to our table and explained that these were toast rounds with a mushroom, herb and goat cheese mixture. As I’ve said before, restaurant often forget about food allergies when it comes to the amuse bouche — well not so much forget as one station forgets to tell the other– so I eyed the amuse nervously when I noticed our waiter, Matt, nearby. I called him over and he assured me that they were safe for me and that the kitchen was aware of my needs and wouldn’t send anything to the table that I couldn’t eat. Upon hearing that I excitedly grabbed for my goat cheese mushroom toast and found it to be delicious. I loved the earthyness of the mushrooms with the creaminess of the goat cheese.
Next it was appetizer time. It’s soft shell crab season here on the east coast, a time that makes me very very happy! During the summer months blue crabs shed their hard outer shells leaving them “soft shelled,” which means you can eat right through the shell. I know that many people outside of the east coast have never seen soft shells and are a bit freaked out by the concept, but they are really delicious. The mean inside is, at it’s best, plump and juicy and the shell is really easy to chew through with just the slightest bit of crunch.
Lincoln served their soft shell crab tempura battered with pickled green tomato, cucumber, red onion, celery and tomato mayonnaise. It was basically like eating a northeastern summer on a plate. Though the crab looks heavily battered, the coating was so light and crispy with a hint of butteryness that highlighted the plump juicy crab inside perfectly. The vegetables were bright and crisp with just the slightest tang from pickling.
The most frustrating part of my whole meal came early on when I had to order my entrée, the problem; too many awesome things to choose from! OK, I’ll admit that’s a great problem to have. With some helpful suggestions Matt I decided on the Strozzapreti Neri Alla Puttanesca; squid ink pasta with shrimp, olives, caperberries and anchovies. Puttanesca is one of my all time favorite pastas and this was basically a crazy kicked up gourmet version. I wish I had the words to describe this dish.
The squid ink pasta itself was incredible. The pasta had such a fantastic texture I hesitate to use the word chewiness which might lead you to think that the pasta was undercooked and tough or over cooked and mushy, but the pasta just had a great feeling on your teeth. The sauce had a nice kick of heat with plenty of acidity and brightness from the tomatoes and that great salty kick of olives, anchovies and caperberries. The shrimp were fresh, meaty and perfectly cooked. I could eat this pasta every day and die happy.
Fun fact- strawberries are my favorite food in the entire world. As much as I love going out for these artful meals and experimenting in the kitchen myself, if you simply brought me a giant flat of the freshest juiciest (organic and locally grown of course ;)) strawberries I would be yours forever. So you can imagine that when I saw the ricotta cheesecake with macerated strawberries, black pepper crema and strawberry sorbetto I looked no further. My dad shared it with me and shared some of my mom’s Zuppe Inglese with raspberries and lady fingers too. Matt informed me that there was usually something with almond on the dessert, I think maybe the crumbs underneath the sorbetto, but the kitchen would simply replace it with vanilla for me. Love!
When the dessert came I had a moment of panic, as is common with people living with food allergies, but Matt assured me that the kitchen had taken care and it was vanilla and not almond on my plate. Feeling reassured, I couldn’t wait and dived right in and ate and ate and ate, until there were two bites left and I remembered that I hadn’t taken a picture. Sorry! The cake was so light it pretty much floated in to your mouth. The strawberries were perfectly sweet while the cake had just a touch of sweetness so they played off of each other perfectly. For someone who is not a huge sweets eater and has a take it or leave it attitude towards chocolate, this is pretty much my perfect dessert.
Once our dessert plates were cleared, a food runner brought over a plate of petit fours and placed it between my parents. I found this really considerate since all I heard was walnut this and peanut that. I wasn’t paying much attention since I never eat the petit fours out of concern that they haven’t been vetted for me, when I noticed Matt coming towards me with a silver platter. He’d brough out special petit fours just for me! Some kind of caramels that were amazing (seriously I could’ve eaten a bag full) and a bite sized buttery raspberry crumb cake. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever eaten petit fours before because no ones ever brought me “safe” ones before.
BEST. WAITER. EVER.
Seriously I wish that I could clone Matt and have him as my waiter at every place I eat!
As a broke ass non-profit do gooder I only go to these fancy joints when my parents are paying, but the food, service and atmosphere were so divine at Lincoln that I’m thinking of going back to grab a drink and an entrée at the bar. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Lincoln Ristorante and to Matt especially for making this allergic to everything gal’s experience so special!
Food rating: A
Service/food allergy accommodations: A+
Overall rating: OMG