Entries in Landmarc (4)


Landmarc at the Time-Warner Center

On a recent Sunday evening, a friend and I dropped in on Landmarc at the Time-Warner Center.

In a neighborhood where most of the food is extremely expensive, Landmarc remains one of the few places where two people can dine under three figures. Not that it’s easy, even here: most of the entrées, other than salads, are north of $25. Steaks can take you close to $40. Appetizers hover around $15. Still, if there’s such a thing as inexpensive dining at Columbus Circle, this is it.

Now in middle age, by restaurant standards, Landmarc has grown lazy. Chef/owner Marc Murphy, once a pioneer of casual upscale dining, is content to trot out an unchallenging and unchanging menu. You find it (the menu) when you sit down, folded neatly on top of your napkin. But unlike years past, they can’t even be bothered to print fresh ones. Those at our table were dog-eared and torn.

The food was routine and forgettable: a Mediterranean Salad (above left); frisée aux lardons (above right), both $19 in entree-size portions. Competent, nothing more.

If anything saves Landmarc from a demotion to no stars, it’s the wine list, with seven pages of half-bottles, an amenity very few restaurants offer. We took advantage of it to share one half-bottle (we were going to the movies, and wanted to remain alert). It works equally well for solo diners or those who want to sample more of the list.

Now if only Marc Murphy were serving food as interesting.

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

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


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: *



Note: This is a review of Landmarc TriBeCa. Click here for a review of Landmarc at the Time-Warner Center.

Landmarc in TriBeCa was an instant hit when it opened almost three years ago. A second branch of the restaurant is expected to open in the Time-Warner Center early next year. I dined at Landmarc a few times within the restaurant’s first year or so (report here), but then it fell off of my radar screen. A dinner last Friday night reminded me that I ought to return to Landmarc a lot more often.

My mother and I had no trouble getting seated at around 6:30 p.m. I ordered the warm goat cheese profiteroles with herb and roasted red pepper salad ($11). Anything with goat cheese is well-nigh impossible to ruin. The doughy profiterole pillows yielded quickly to the fork, surrendering the juicy goat cheese prize inside.

My mom ordered the pan seared monkfish with tomatoes, red onions & black olives, and spaghetti squash ($22). This was a very large portion, perfectly prepared. I tried the pumpkin & gorgonzola risotto with sage and toasted walnuts ($22; also available as an appetizer for $15), which was competently prepared, but slightly too dry.

Landmarc has a strong bread service for a restaurant in its class, but like many casual places I’ve visited lately, there is no butter knife. In other respects the service is solid. When you are seated, the menu is already at the table, folded in sixths like a homework assignment. This is an affectation that should be dropped.

The wine program remains first-rate, with many excellent bottles in the $30–50 range. We had an excellent 2002 Crozes-Hermitage at $36, for which many restaurants would have charged over $50.

Landmarc (179 West Broadway between Leonard & Worth Streets, TriBeCa)

Food: **
Service: *½
Ambiance: *½
Overall: **


Marc on Landmarc

Note: For a more recent review of Landmarc in TriBeCa, click here. For a review of Landmarc at the Time-Warner Center, click here.

Landmarc is the latest cool restaurant in TriBeCa, a neighborhood that already has plenty of them. It’s named for chef-owner Marc Murphy, who cut his teeth at Le Cirque, La Fourchette, Layla, and Cellar in the Sky, among other places. Landmarc has more humble aspirations than these temples of haute cuisine. It has the feel of a neighborhood hangout, with exposed brick walls and waitstaff in black t-shirts. The menu offers a range of French, Italian, and plain old American comfort food.

I ambled into Landmarc today for lunch. It was about 1pm, and the restaurant was around 1/3rd full. It actually got a tad busier by the time I left, but the downstairs was still well under 1/2 full. I took a look upstairs, where only two or three tables were occupied. There is a gorgeous 3/4ths-enclosed booth that the manager said is available for parties of 6.

I don’t like to drink before the evening. The ample selection of half-bottles of wine was duly noted, but the staff did not mind that I preferred tap water. I ordered the asparagus soup (yummy) and steak au poivre. Not much can be done to improve an age-old recipe like steak au poivre. Landmarc served a thick piece of meat, crusty on the outside and cooked to a perfect medium rare on the inside, topped with onions. The pepper sauce got the job done, but it was a bit runny and soaked the bottom layer of french fries. The fries that the sauce didn’t get to were crisp and medium-thickness. Landmarc offers six choices of desserts for $3 apiece, or you can have one of each for $15. I was far too full to try even one, but it has to be the best dessert bargain in town.

Service was attentive and efficient at the beginning of the meal, but visits to my table seemed to tail off near the end. They kept me waiting for the steak a bit longer than they should, but all was forgiven once I tasted it. The manager did make a point of coming around to every table and saying hello.

For a place that doesn’t take reservations for parties less than six, both the placement and the size of the bar seem to be a miscalculation. It’s at the back of the restaurant, so patrons who want to wait at the bar before their table is ready have to pass through the downstairs dining area. There are only five bar stools, so I suspect it will get crowded back there, potentially a distraction for those who’ve already been seated.

I don’t know if Landmarc will take a cell phone number and call you when they’re ready. If so, I suspect Buster’s Garage, the NASCAR-themed sports bar across the street, will pick up a lot of the overflow. I read in the minutes for Community Board 1’s March meeting that there have already been compaints in the neighborhood about the noise at the newly-opened Buster’s.

It hasn’t been open long, but Landmarc is already a destination restaurant. In an LA Times article yesterday, “Dining Frenzy Takes Gotham,” Landmarc was listed as one of eight hot new restaurants in New York. Amanda Hesser’s review in the NYT gave Landmarc one star, which seemed to me correct (in a system that doesn’t allow half-stars).

Landmarc (179 West Broadway between Leonard and Worth Streets, TriBeCa)

Food: *½
Service: *
Ambiance: *
Overall: *½