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Landmarc at the Time-Warner Center


Everyone knows the story of the Restaurant Collection at the Time-Warner Center, right? Perhaps a brief recap is in order. The original idea was to gather the world’s greatest chefs under one roof, for a set of restaurants that would all vie for three or four stars from the Times. Two of the restaurants, Per Se and Masa, were clear hits, while Café Gray received mixed reviews. Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s V Steakhouse bombed, and the fifth major tenant, Chicago’s Charlie Trotter, bowed out.

The main miscalculation was that none of these restaurants appealed to a shopping mall clientele. Someone looking for a casual bite isn’t going to pop into Café Gray for the $36 braised short ribs. Café Gray’s breakfast and lunch service fizzled. The mall needed a casual dining option, and none of these places fit the bill. Bouchon Bakery filled in somewhat, but there remained a huge void between it and Café Gray.

Porter House New York replaced V Steakhouse, and it appears to be a hit. While not exactly casual, it comes in at a gentler price point than Café Gray and offers a great bar menu for snacking. Landmarc, which opened last week in the old Charlie Trotter space, finally gives the mall the truly informal dining option that it needed.

Landmarc at the Time-Warner Center is a near-clone of the original Landmarc in TriBeCa, which I’ve reviewed twice (here, here). Among the differences, the new Landmarc is about double the size, with a seating capacity of 200, plus 90 in private dining rooms, and a large bar. The décor is similar to the TriBeCa location’s post-industrial chic, with the added bonus of a picture window facing Columbus Circle and Central Park.

It’s also open seven days a week from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., and serves breakfast. (TriBeCa doesn’t open till noon on weekdays, 9:00 a.m. on weekends). I’m a little skeptical that the weekday breakfast service will last. Except on weekends, most New Yorkers favor expediency over excellence at breakfast time. It’s hard for me to believe that Landmarc’s $12 pancakes are much better than anyone else’s, but you have to go to the third floor of a shopping mall to get to them.

At lunch and dinner, Landmarc’s virtues will shine. The menu is a mixture of French, Italian, New American, and steakhouse favorites, but not overly long, and focused on items where the kitchen excels. A few of the items, like the roasted marrow bones and goat cheese profiteroles, are already classics, as are the desserts at $3 apiece. There’s also the acclaimed wine program, with prices only slightly above retail, and an ample selection of half-bottles.

Appetizers are $8–13, salads $7–21 (most with two available portion sizes), entrées $21–26, steaks $21–34, daily pasta specials $10–22 (two portion sizes), raw bar items $15–27, and house specialties $19–30. That probably seems like a lot, but it all fits on one page—as in TriBeca, on a sheet folded in sixths and waiting under your napkin when you’re seated. There’s also a kids’ menu, with all items $6.

Last week was supposed to be a “soft opening,” but as the management quickly figured out, there are no soft openings in New York, especially for a well known place like Landmarc. The bloggers and chowhounds quickly get wind of it, and within hours the whole food community knows. I ambled in around 7:00 p.m. on Friday night, and the place was close to full. The hostess said at first that there would be a half-hour wait, but then they seated me immediately at a two-top with a terrific view of Central Park. (As in TriBeCa, reservations aren’t accepted for parties less than six.)

landmarc_marrow.jpgI ordered the marrow bones ($12) and the calf’s liver ($22), mainly because I was alone, and both dishes would gross out my girlfriend. The marrow bones (right) come with an onion marmelade and warm country bread. There are tiny wooden forks to prize the marrow out of the bones. It’s a rich, gooey mess, but well worth the trouble. The amount of bread provided is about double what you need.

The calf’s liver came with two thick lobes, grilled with a nice char on the outside, and a smooth, rich texture more tender than filet mignon. The accompanying veggies were too greasy, and tasted like they’d been in the frying pan too long. Blueberry crumble for dessert was forgettable, but at $3, who cares?

Best of all was a half-bottle of 2002 Saint-Georges Saint-Émilion at $26, which most restaurants wouldn’t even carry, and certainly not at that price.

The floor was amply staffed with servers and runners. Two different managers came over to inquire about my meal. There were a couple of very minor glitches, but for a place open for five days they were in pretty good shape. I suspect Landmarc is going to do very well indeed.

Update: I’ve now been back several times. My original rating of two stars seems too generous. Much of the menu seems phoned in—merely competent. I haven’t yet had a bad meal here, but the menu doesn’t change, and it’s designed to be turned out in volumes. The food is merely acceptable, but Landmarc deserves a star for the wine program.

Landmarc at the Time-Warner Center (10 Columbus Circle, 3rd floor)

Food (and Wine): *
Service: *
Ambiance: *
Overall: *

Reader Comments (4)

You review restaurants during their soft opening??? Is that really fair?

April 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarcked

I was actually not the first. These days, once a restaurant has opened its doors, it's not unusual for the first review to be up within hours, soft opening or not.

Since the review is mostly favorable, I doubt that the Landmarc people mind. But my view is that if they're charging full price, the review is fair. After all, Broadway plays are typically reviewed on the first night.

I also made clear the circumstances, and people can take that into account.

April 23, 2007 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

it's still a "mall". who wants to go into a mall in the summer except midwestern tourists maybe...? maybe not though. New York is all about in your face, on the street, with pretty people walking by on the street next to the crazy guy asking the cafe diners for change. sitting at the tables in the new Landmarc, you are looking into a mall and that is just not "cool". how are they going to get the walk-in business that they do downtown? Blue Ribbon is coming to the area (outside on the street) soon, so they better build their clientelle now, or all the walk in business will go elsewhere. and the prices aren't that cheap. I love the wine thing but the corporate attitude is showing it's ugly head and I wouldn't be surprised if the staff changes over quite frequently because they care more about numbers and themselves than anything else. expect the quality to vary. i'll stay on the street and hit up all the new places on columbus and amsterdam. Celeste doesn't have reservations either, but their food is homemade and the owner makes his own cheeses and brings them in from italy! that's a "neighborhood' place! it's inexpensive, and the owner gives a damn. the upper west is coming along though, and Landmarc is an ok thing for now, until the corporate monster is exposed, that is...and until there are other late night options

May 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

The building it’s in is rather irrelevant. Per Se is in the same mall, and it’s booked solid. Some restaurants are in hotels. Some are in office buildings. Some are in retail buildings. Some are “outside on the street.” So what?

I do agree that if you’re not ordering wine, the rationale for Landmarc becomes a lot less compelling.

May 16, 2007 | Registered CommenterMarc Shepherd

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