Thursday night we joined friends at LINCOLN (www.lincolnrestaurant-dc.com) which opened recently just near Thomas Circle on Vermont Ave, NW. Upon arrival we entered and could not hear a word the hostess asked us as the noise levels were beyond unreal. I yelled "Is there any place we can sit where we can hear each other without yelling?" and she motioned outside. Luckily, it was not a 100+ degree day in DC and the heat and humidity had abated and there was a nice breeze. The rattan-like chairs are extremely uncomfortable (I have no clue what inside is like) and when we sat the small plates were covered with debris that had fallen (from the trees, buildings nearby or whatever), so we asked for clean plates and one black napkin as our friend had a black dress on.
We never did figure out why there was a partially rotten green apple on the table.
We ordered a bottle of VAN DUZER Pinot Noir ROSE 2010 from Oregon which our server Ramon said was a great choice, and it was. We liked it so much, we had a second bottle.
Ramon explained the "small plate" setup at Lincoln and we decided to experiment widely and for the most part, we were quite happy with the food. We had heard that Lincoln originally did not serve bread when they opened but had caved to requests. We saw bread and dips on the menu, but asked if we could just get some bread (and we did say for free). They kept saying the black napkin was coming (including one manager) and the bread was in the oven. The napkin finally arrived after the food and the bread much later(we theatrically dubbed this episode, Waiting for the Dough"), all quite stale and definitely not having been in any oven for quite some time.
Will decided to try the dozen oysters and he did not ask what type they were. He was disappointed when they were all Blue Point, which Ramon insisted were West Coast. I know better, trying to explain the name Blue Point comes from Long Island, and gave up the argument fast when he insisted that their east coast oyster (not on the plate today) was a West Coast varietal (I forgot which).
The "appetizer" plate of DUCK SAUSAGE ROLL with seasonal mustard was fabulous and tasty, but is as big as any of the "main" plates and has five large slices that would easily fill a person with one more dish, even though Ramon said 4 plates per person is average.
The GRILLED ASPARAGUS with Poached EGG & Aritchoke Vinaigrette was so good the first time around that Will ordered a second plate which he said the egg was overcooked on.
Citrus Marinated Poached RED BEETS with Pickled Gooseberries and Horseradish Creme Fraiche is a divine veggie choice as was the superb Roasted Heirloom EGGPLANT with Goat Cheese, Rosemary & Burnt Honey.
The BAKED CANA de CABRA Goat was rich but tempered by the superb Grilled PEACHES, Olives and Shaved Bread (that was weird--we joked that we didn't really want to eat bread with a beard and was glad it had been shaved!).
An Organic KALE Salad with Hazelnuts, Fried Cranberries and parmesan lemon Vinaigrette did not sound so great, but Ramon explained there was no bitterness to the raw kale and it was a big hit on the menu, so we went for it, and it was quite good, but a bit boring. The kale reminded me of shredded parsley.
We moved on to a superb light Pinot Noir 2009 from FOREFRONT in Santa Barbara that Ramon recommended, but at one point one glass got spilled and broken on the sidewalk (it was really unclear how it happened, but we felt it was someone bussing the table that hit it) and nobody made an effort to offer a complimentary glass to replace it.
Will's Poached ARCTIC CHAR with Broccoli, Prosciutto and Golden Raisins only got an ok (so Will, who had chosen not to share with the three of us, was mostly disappointed with his meal), but the Crispy Soft Shell CRAB with Corn Salsa & Whipped Avocado-Lime Ceviche was really quite tasty but there was no "ceviche" just an avocado puree?
We were quite full and chose one dessert to share. The STRAWBERRY RHUBARD Crisp with Pistachio Streusel and Vanilla Ice Cream, it was agreed, was the best thing to hit the table all night.
I doubt we will ever have reason to return to Lincoln, especially since there is no way on earth I would eat inside in that awful high decibel din....but then you might.