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Another satisfied Lincoln customer. Hadn't been since last year and I agree that it's maybe improving. Wouldn't have ordered the rabbit sausage but for changeup's link -- very good. The veal ragu with reginette integrale matched a superlative, benchmark veal ragu eaten at the River Cafe in London, the pasta perfectly cooked and not too whole-wheaty. (Another pasta was woefully undercooked but replaced with a good lobster substitute.)

 

However, I wouldn't recommend the (new?) pasta duo concept. When requested for 2 people, each of you receives "half-portions" of the two pastas in funny plates with two bowls side by side. Unless Lincoln's pasta portioning has shrunk, it seemed to me that the portioning for the pasta duo was visibly stingier than the portioning would have been if we'd simply ordered two regularly-plated pastas and shared them that way.

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I stopped by Lincoln a couple of times this trip - it's really as good as ever, and as full as ever. The corn agnolotti with stracciatella and summer truffle was one of the first things I ate stateside, and definitely reminded me what I was missing.

 

Was sort of impressed when i arrived on a whim 10 minutes before they opened for lunch on a Wednesday, in August, during restaurant week, only to find Chef Benno behind the pass prepping. I guess I shouldn't be, but sort of was. He told me they started going with quarterly regional theme additions on the menu. The quarter that just passed (or is about to end) was Tuscany. Next quarter coming up is Marche. Not sure what March'nese food is, but I guess you'll all be able to find out this fall.

 

 

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I've been to this place twice - and just had dinner there tonight. I really want to love Lincoln. They come so close to greatness, but for me they have always fallen just short. This meal was almost an exact replica of a lunch I had there last summer. In both cases the problem was a really average main course, bookended by a great appetizer/pasta and dessert. I'm sure somebody somewhere has been satisfied with a main course at Lincoln, but with me they're 0 for 2.

 

Before I get into the food (photos here), I'll just note that the service was fantastic. I like the room a lot too, and the seating is comfy. They should get tablecloths, though. I mean what is this, Ssam Bar?

 

The meal starts with saffron-scented arancini with mozzarella. Think of them as Italian gougeres. Really nice. That's followed by a decent enough bread basket with lardo focaccia, grissini, and white bread from Sullivan Street Bakery.

 

My appetizer was one of the Marche specials, and it was terrific.

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Lamb terrine with salsa verde. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting when I thought of lamb terrine, but it was still great. A warm terrine of gamey, fatty lamb seared to a nice golden crisp on top. The sauce was pleasantly spicy, and accented with mint leaves. Just fabulous.

 

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Spaghetti neri alla chitarra with shrimp. Ok, I have several complaints about this pasta - but in spite these complaints, it was still a really fricken good bowl of pasta. So think of my complaints as more like nitpicks or technicalities. My first complaint is that I highly doubt this pasta was made "alla chitarra" - that is, by rolling the dough by hand through a pasta guitar. It was almost certainly extruded in-house. My second complaint is that it's not really spaghetti - the noodles were square and way too thick. It was more like tonarelli. And their technique for making this style of homemade dried pasta isn't quite producing the best results. The pasta was cooked correctly, but it was inflexible. I'm just speculating here, but they might be making them this thick because if they were any thinner they'd keep breaking. The result for the diner is that the flavors are still there, but if you try to twirl them with your fork you're going to spray sauce all over yourself, your date, and the tables next to you. So instead you have to spear these noodles.

 

But the real problem - the course that deflated this meal for me - was to follow:

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Porchetta with braised romano beans, san marzanos, and "polenta fresca" with whipped mascarpone. Apparently this is offered as a special from time to time, and the waitress was pushing it hard. I love porchetta, so it was difficult to pass up. But the version here is totally average. In fact, I almost sent it back (I should have). The crackling on the outside - it was ok. Parts of it were so hard that it was almost impossible to cut, even with the razor sharp steak knife they give you. The interior - well, basically it just tasted like an ordinary piece of pork. I don't know how else to describe it, except to say that it was boring. The braised romano beans were an unappealing soft texture. The side of "polenta fresca" was actually pretty good - really nice fresh corn taste - and light due to the mascarpone, but it was so sweet it could have been served for dessert. To be fair, the waitress did warn that it was sweet. I was getting kind of full at this point, so I only got through about 2/3 of the porchetta. But I didn't really want to finish it anyway.

 

The actual dessert, however, was quite nice.

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Hazelnut tartufo with chocolate and hazelnut gelato and walnut sabayon. Outstanding. Might be the best tartufo I've had. Great if you love chocolate.

 

If only this place could put out a decent secondo.

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Spaghetti alla chitarra are thick and square. Think about it ? How could to you make a non- rectilinear shape by pushing dough through a bunch of wires?

 

Spaghetti alla chitarra should be flat, it shouldn't be square.

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Spaghetti alla chitarra are thick and square. Think about it ? How could to you make a non- rectilinear shape by pushing dough through a bunch of wires?

 

 

I think LiquidNY is suggesting that the pasta was extruded. There are a number of reasons why this is very likely not the case.

 

Dyes for extruded pasta are very expensive and rolling pasta and cutting it on a chitarra is relatively easy.

 

More to the point, why would Benno be extruding square spaghetti when he could do it the "authentic" way?

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Spaghetti alla chitarra are thick and square. Think about it ? How could to you make a non- rectilinear shape by pushing dough through a bunch of wires?

 

Spaghetti alla chitarra should be flat, it shouldn't be square.

 

 

I'm not sure that's true. Most spaghetti alla chitarra I've seen is more squarish than flatish. In fact, sometimes, if you don't look closely, it can be mistaken for spaghetti (which is why I'm assuming it's "spaghetti alla chitarra" and not "linguine alla chitarra").

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Alright, you may be right. But in any case, I would have preferred it thinner. And as I noted, the texture was kind of brittle. This is interesting. An Italian-language wikipedia page says that "spaghetti alla chitarra" and tonnarelli are actually the same thing. I didn't know that.

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Alright, you may be right. But in any case, I would have preferred it thinner. And as I noted, the texture was kind of brittle. This is interesting. An Italian-language wikipedia page says that "spaghetti alla chitarra" and tonnarelli are actually the same thing. I didn't know that.

 

That all being said, I was at Lincoln recently for lunch and had the spaghettoni. And I do understand your comment about the stiffness of some of the pasta (like the spaghetti). I haven't a problem with it. But I can see how some might.

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I didn't like the spaghetti alla chitarra at Lincoln either, served with sea snails at the time, as in the instagram photo. It was undercooked, tasting gummy. We sent it back and they were very nice about giving us something else. Hoping to get a good main when we go back soon!

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