Monday, February 1, 2010

Struggling at Landmarc

This past weekend, AV had a good friend from college in town. Since I had not yet met said friend, our big plan was to meet up for dinner at 7. When I called around 3:30 to confirm the location, the two of them seemed to be, shall we say, neck-deep in wings and beer at a bar on the UES. So suffice it to say that the planning of said 7PM dinner did not go... smoothly? I'll spare you the details; let's just fast forward to 7:30, when the three of us gathered at Landmarc in the Time Warner Center. Me: exhausted as all get-out. AV and ER: struggling.

Since Landmarc doesn't take reservations, we were fortunate that there was no wait for a table for three. We collapsed into a table that seemed to be smack in the middle of the restaurant's jet-stream, so AV and I sat shivering for the entirety of the meal. Well, I shivered, and AV eyed the door to the bathroom across the room should an a-la-minute escape be necessary.

We managed to discover the menus, which are folded pieces of paper tucked into the napkins on the table. Our server was friendly and accommodating, and she put up with our antics quite well. After vehemently declining the offer of drinks, we placed our order. A runner then brought a bread basket. ER noted that the bread was not warm. True, but it did come with room-temp (read: spreadable) butter and a bottle of olive oil on the table; given that I wasn't hungry, I took a couple of bites for research purposes, and it was definitely solid sourdough, the type you tend to see frequently around town.

Bread in a basket

We talked, mostly sharing amusing stories about AV while he sat gamely (and rather palely) absorbing the abuse. Our server popped by to let us know that our food was almost ready. And then it arrived. Starting with the poor battered males at the table, AV had ordered an appetizer portion of the Saturday pasta special, which was pasta bolognese. He said it was pretty good, but honeslty I think any carb-based food at that point probably would have done the trick. The only negative of note was that the server offered parmesan, which we all know AV loves, and their response to an eager "yes" was a tiny metal dish of powdered parm-- about two teaspoons' worth. Seriously??? That just won't cut it.

Pasta pre-parm

ER had gone with the Landmarc burger, which one of the reasons we ultimately chose Landmarc as our destination. He had asked to add bacon, a request eagerly accommodated. Sort of. The burger earned raves all around, despite the fact that the pickles crowning the overflowing mountain of accompanying frisee were not nearly pickled enough. The bacon, however, made its appearance in the form of bacon crumbles tucked in another tiny metal ramekin (pernicious little bastards, those) buried under the greens; ER didn't notice it until he was about 3/4 of the way through his burger. Landmarc, listen: if you're gonna add bacon to a burger, it's gotta be strips. I may be a vegetarian, but even I know that crumbles won't cut it, especially if there's not cheese on the burger for the crumbles to stick to. Nonetheless, bacon debacle aside, the burger was a winner.

See that tiny bit of metal peeking out next to the ketchup? Yeah, that's the bacon.

My choice (again, I wasn't hungry, so don't shoot me) was a side of sauteed spinach. This was a pretty small portion for a $6 side, and it came strangely swimming in liquid, which I suspected was chicken broth. Given that I didn't specify that I was vegetarian, I didn't necessarily hold it against Landmarc, but rather instead of inquiring about the liquid and making an obnoxious scene, I gulped the spinach as quickly as I could and then sat with it roiling in my stomach for a while. The spinach had slivers of pretty raw garlic and rings of what looked like shallots in it. It was salty. Not the most successful spinach I've ever had, but then again, I'm not sure anything would have wowed me given that I wasn't hungry.


At this point, when we were all done, another basket of bread landed on our table, right in front of me, as though it were the entree I had ordered. Whaaa?

No matter. When the bill came, a generous handful of homemade caramels also arrived-- I gulped about four of these in succession, because they were creamy and buttery and just the perfect thing to settle my stomach.

So what's the verdict on Landmarc? Well, I'm not quite sure we gave it a fair shake. Given the sorry state we were in, I don't think even Daniel would have wowed us. I've also been to the Tribeca location a while ago, and it provided a good time. I think, given the data points I have, that Landmarc is a solid place. The burger is good, the other food is hit or miss. But they have a cotton candy machine-- evident in the huge poofs of cotton candy making the rounds in the dining room as elements of dessert courses-- and how bad can any restaurant with a cotton candy machine be? Landmarc is a solid three Offset Spatula restaurant, not mind-blowing, but I'd return if the circumstances merited. And maybe next time I'm not hungry, I'll just skip right to the dessert course.

10 Columbus Circule, 3rd floor

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