Review: Lincoln Restaurant (Thomas Circle)

June 21, 2011

Open since April, Lincoln offers locally-sourced small plates as well as an interesting array of specialty cocktails and spirits, including my favorite — white whiskey.  Lincoln shares their corporate executive chef, Demetrio Zavala, with DC’s Hudson Restaurant.  (Whatever Chef Zavala is doing differently here than at Hudson, he should definitely keep it up . . . Seriously.)  He’s joined by Lincoln’s executive chef, Karen Nicolas whose impressive culinary credentials include stints at two Charlie Palmer restaurants (Aureole and Dry Creek Kitchen) and New York’s Gramercy Tavern.

I have now been to Lincoln several times and have enjoyed the somewhat whimsical decor — a penny-covered floor, a fun-house type, white leather couch with a super high back, and the hot pink colored women’s bathroom.  Dudes, what does your bathroom look like?!

On to the food.  Looking over the menu, I can see the subtle influences of Zavala’s Greek, Italian, French, Spanish, and Mexican roots.  After sampling an array of dishes, I was able to understand why some have criticized the portion sizes.  When I say “some have criticized,” I really mean one person.  He’s a good friend and I respect his opinions on food and drink.  (I can’t vouch for his opinions on other topics, though….just kidding!)  Anyway, my friend complained that, after his first visit to Lincoln, he walked away hungry and in dire need of a burger.  I’ll admit the portions at Lincoln are smaller than the portions that other local restaurants offer in terms of small plates in the same price range ($7-$15).  Now, I was not as offended by the portion size as my friend was, but, had I been hungrier when I dined at Lincoln, I may have shared my friend’s frustration and desire for a second dinner.  So there.  You’ve been warned.

My favorite dishes were the duck sausage rolls, macaroni and cheese, and chicken pot pie.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the chicken pot pie, which I thought would be hard to pull off successfully in the small plate medium.  Yet, each component of the pot pie was flavorful and the overall dish was quite satisfying (ok, I wish it had been a little bigger!).  The beef short rib and lobster and fava bean risotto were also quite good.  On the other hand, I was very disappointed with the Spring gnocchi, which I found to be very bland and watery.  Finally, the microscopic, pan seared salmon was good but not really noteworthy in terms of flavor.

Lincoln’s adult beverage offerings are unique and definitely worth the repeat visits.  In addition to white whiskey concoctions, Lincoln also serves up several “classic” cocktails, such as Tom Collins, Moscow Mule (served in its proper vessel – a copper mug!), and Pisco Sour, which you don’t normally find on drink menus.

Bottom line, I’ll go again.  In fact, I’ll be there tomorrow night!

I’ll end this review on a fun note: the “penny floor contest.”  As I mentioned earlier, Lincoln’s floor is completely covered in pennies.  If you correctly guess the number of pennies that cover its floor, you win $250! Let the guessing begin!  I get a cut of the $250 if you win, right? I mean, you heard about it here first . . .

Lincoln Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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