Landmarc TWC is really one of the nicest restaurants-next-door you could possibly meet. Truth be told, it’s not the most delicious of restaurants nor the most posh—though it is tasty and attractive enough. But the overall experience is so warm and welcoming (and the prices are so fair) that you will very likely be drawn back here far more frequently than you would, say, to a Per Se or a Masa. It’s a place where you’ll want to stop by for a half bottle of wine (there is a respectable selection) on your way home from work once a week or so—even if you don’t actually live right next door.
(If you’re thinking that by “you,” I really mean “me,” you’re probably right.)
My SO and I went to the Landmarc in the Time Warner Center on Saturday night at 9:30, on the new Landmarc location’s first weekend in the world. The restaurant has a policy of not taking reservations for parties of five or less, and the wait didn’t look promising at all. The entire northwest corner of the Time Warner Center’s third floor was mobbed with people who were apparently waiting to get into Landmarc. The hostess told us the next table wouldn’t be ready for another hour.
My SO and I looked at each other in dismay. We are not a hardy lot when it comes to camping out for a table, having expended all such energies on camping out for Harry Potter novels and concert tickets in our foolhardy youth (ok like last year). But this time we decided to stick around, in part because we knew we’d be able to get happily likkered up on the excellent cocktails at Café Gray, on the same floor of the Time Warner Center. And it was a good thing we did, too, for not fifteen minutes later, when we were but a few sips into our cocktails, the hostess called to tell us our table was ready. We quaffed the rest of our cocktails and scurried back.
Inside, the décor is really lovely. The space is large and cavernous in the best of ways. The high ceilings, an interpretation of 90s-chic Tribeca exposed beams in evenly-cut svelt planks, were brought closer by the dark colors. But though it seats 300 according to Eaters, it didn’t feel like industrial sized dining. From our vantage point in a booth opposite the busy bar, the scale felt positively homey. (That said, I would hate to be the lone diner in such a large space. Long sightlines would make it impossible to lay low when one is not camouflaged amidst the other diners.)
We had a few moments alone with our menus before our red-cheeked waiter appeared, but once there, he was cheerful, slightly harried, and a perfect balance of friendly and efficient. He didn’t bat an eye when we ordered NY City tap. (Plus five.)
The menu is, I think, identical to Landmarc’s flagship location in Tribeca. To start, we had the foie gras terrine with pickled red onions and the smoked mozzarella and ricotta fritters with fried zucchini sticks and a “spicy red sauce” that looked and tasted like just plain ol’ marinara sauce. The foie gras was okay, probably from a tin, and served at too cold of a temperature for one to appreciate to full effect the fatty deliciousness that makes this dish. The onions were lovely, though, something I could imagine someone’s French grandmother making. Toast that accompanied the terrine was slightly burnt and in that unpleasant post-warm toast phase. I mostly ate around it. The fritters were a stepped up version of fried mozzarella sticks and beautifully battered—not greasy at all. I thought they were much better without the strangely supermarkety red sauce.
For our main courses, we had the grilled pork chop with sautéed spinach, caramelized onions and roasted apples (me), and the spaghetti bolognaise (him). The grilled pork chops didn’t really taste or look grilled in the cooking-over-open-flames sense of the word and it came medium done, rather than medium rare, as I’d requested. Even so, it was juicy, perfectly brined, and went very well with the Green Market quality fresh spinach and homey chunks of apples. The SO liked his bolognaise, though I was significantly less thrilled with it. The spaghetti was reconstituted from the dried, boxed stuff. The sauce itself was flavorful enough, nothing to write home about. (To be fair, pasta bolognaise isn’t really my favorite dish to begin with.)
True to its reputation, the new Landmarc continues the tradition of well-priced wines. We had a half bottle of a palatable, though not stellar, gruner veltliner for a very good price (around $15). We would have had more had we not had to quaff our pre-dinner cocktails.
For dessert, we tried the “one of each,” a sampler that comes with a small wedge of lemon tart, two rather (over)generously-sized ramekins of chocolate mousse and berry cobbler, each, a chocolate éclair, and a crème brulee. I though the crème brulee was the most delicious, in part because it best survived having sat around for a while. Ingredients in all desserts were clearly high quality (real vanilla bean in the creme brulee and full bodied, full-fat fresh-tasting cream), but some desserts suffered more than others from the time spent between oven and table. The cobbler topping was, in places, a bit too soggy, and came at room temperature. (I prefer it piping hot.) Similarly, though the ingredients in the lemon tart were fantastic, the crust nicely buttery and the lemon fragrant, the crust was slightly mushy from having been made, probably, more than one day before. And the éclair was also a little wet, more fitting for profiterols than for straight-up consumption. Mousse was nice and thick the way I like it.
Without tip, the total came to just over a hundred for two. It was, in my book, a pretty sweet deal, especially with the generous handful of homemade caramels that came with the check. Food is a little bit more like an accompaniment to the wine than the other way around. But it’s a perfectly fine place to come to unwind after-work, as friendly as your neighborhood pub, with far better food and nicer décor. Next time I'm going to save a lot more room for wine!