Saturday, February 21, 2009

Marc-ing Territory

I used to be a regular at Landmarc in the Time Warner Center, partly because I used to work in midtown and Landmarc serves until 2 am nightly.  Also, the hot spot used to be known for this weird trick they pulled with their wine list: no wines served by the glass, and a list dominated by magnums and half-bottles.  If memory serves, there were no ordinary 750 ml bottles on the menu.  

Times may have changed, but Landmarc still bustles on a Friday.  Here's the thing about Landmarc.  In all of my years of late-night stopover appearances, I mostly only ever ate two (delicious) dishes: bone marrow with country bread and a rib eye cooked rare.  With French fries.  My new attempts at self-preservation (and the battle to wear a size 26 without unbuttoning my pants, a goal now reached) mean no tasty white crusty bread, which makes the bone marrow--toasted in the bone and served with sea salt, a demitasse, and caramelized onions--obsolete.  And my personal ban on red meat (for the most part--let's not go crazy here) means no more rib eye, although I allowed my brother to order the hulking 23-ouncer so that it stayed in close proximity.  

My realization, then, was that, without my unhealthy staples, Landmarc just wasn't what I remembered.  I ordered the quail, which came in a vastly oversized portion (honestly, who on earth needs to eat two birds for dinner?) wrapped in undercooked bacon.  Traditionally, quail is snapped at the breast bone and cooked meat side down so that the skin crisps.  The bacon got in the way of any crispy skin, and even the bacon itself, gummy and unpleasant, didn't do the birds justice. 

And why stuff a quail?  The meat should be the point of the game, and my meat was overdone in places and underdone in others.  Quail, like duck, should arrive medium-rare.  Some parts of my bird were cooked all the way through, while others looked as if they'd never seen that long grill in the back.  A stuffing of some kind of bready thing and sausage rendered the dish a gloppy mess.  I wouldn't order it again. 

I subsisted, then, on a tasty bite of my brother's rib eye and two vegetable side dishes, haricot verts that tasted strongly of celery (?) and roasted mushrooms that were perfect but not enough to live on.  Dessert may have been the highlight, and may still be the best sweet deal in town, a sampler of blueberry crisp, lemon tart, creme brulee, nutella eclair, chocolate mousse, and tiramisu, all for $16.  Cotton candy--you have to ask for it--arrived in traditional paper cones.  Flavor of the night was Dimetapp grape.  

I should mention, too, that Landmarc is still a bargain basement when it comes to wine.  We drank the 2005 Beckmen Grenache, because my mother won't drink anything French--"too dry"--or crisp--"I like it big and full-bodied."  Our tastes couldn't be farther apart.  Beckman Vineyards, based in the southern Californian enclave of Santa Ynez, produces rich and ripe wines at a variety of price points.  For $56, this was a great deal for an American wine, if you like that sort of thing.  

In fact, you'll find more than a lion's share of bottles between $50 and $60, nothing to scoff at in hard economic times.  Too bad the quail can't meet the same standards.  Next time, it's back to the drawing board.  Flour ban be damned: I want my marrow back.  

Landmarc at the Time Warner Center
10 Columbus Circle, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10019

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