179 W. Broadway, between Leonard & Worth Streets
Reservations recommended (gets crowded even on weeknights)
First visit reviewed here
(I just re-read it… interesting because I didn’t remember some of those issues!)
I’d previously rated Landmarc as “I would go back” but, nearly a year later and I still had not returned, not for want of trying. Marc Murphy has a great little place here, and I was excited to go back and try some more of his creations.
When I arrived shortly after 6, my friend was waiting for me. The place looked crowded from outside, but once we entered, the place only had a few patrons, here and there. More than most places might have on a Wednesday night at 6, actually, but not packed with a good 20-30 minute wait, as it was when we left.
Perusing the menu, I found too many items that set my stomach grumbling. Finally, we decided, again, to be pigs. (Our last trip to piggy-land was to Soba-ya, reviewed here, and when I returned to Soba-ya a month ago for my boyfriend’s birthday, we turned into pigs as well, ordering appetizers, three entrees, two desserts and at least four glasses of plum wine.) We opted for four- that’s right, four appetizers, one to be served with our entrees, and one a risotto that came in either entree size or appetizer size, but was still pretty big for an appetizer.
foie gras terrine
We were both annoyed when the waiter asked us if we had questions, and we both wanted to know exactly what terrine meant… and he started explaining to us what foie gras was. Aside from that… the accompanying bread overwhelmed the soft foie gras. The bread was big, crusty and toasted, which is lovely by itself, but with the mellow foie gras took over the senses. When my dining companion alerted me to this, I opted to only taste a forkful without the bread. The smell hit me first: a strong odor of the alcohol they’d used in the dish, which turned me off, though the actual taste was mild and just like eating soft creamery butter. Not the best foie gras I’ve had by any means, but still, it was tasty enough- the foie gras wasn’t ruined. ($12)
smoked mozzarella & ricotta fritters, fried zucchini with a spicy tomato sauce
When I’d gone last year, I’d wanted this dish but alas, my friends do not like cheese. Instead, we’d gotten fried calamari, which was served with a spicy tomato sauce that I noted was not spicy whatsoever. This time, however, the tomato sauce had a definite zing to it- and just the right kind, that bursts in your mouth, doesn’t overwhelm your senses, and then leaves almost as quickly as it comes, with no trace.
As for the fritters, I’m not sure I can find the words to describe how good these were. Though from the appearance, one might think they’re greasy and heavy- after all, they look like small zeppoles- one bite tells you otherwise. It’s like biting into air- deliciously cheese-flavored air. The ricotta is whipped fluffy and full of air, and tiny chunks of smoked mozzarella give a good chew to some bites. I would definitely order this again- even if, or perhaps especially if no one wants to share. ($9)
rock shrimp risotto
A famous critic once remarked “The French can never do a good risotto properly,” and I’m wont to disagree. Not simply because of this dish, but because of my own experience mastering risotto- it just takes time and patience.
In any case, Chef Murphy’s risotto strikes the right balance between bite and creamy, starchy softness. Despite this being an appetizer portion, there was no lack of rock shrimp- in fact, each bite had one or more pieces to it, and as you can see from the picture, some very happily sized pieces were present as well. The overall flavor was delicate with a hint of the lobster butter peeking through; I didn’t feel full after eating it, so I can safely assume that there was little to no cheese in it. Yummy! Thumbs up, though expensive for an appetizer ($15)
steak tartare (listed under landmarc specials)
Why, oh why does this look like a raw hamburger patty? Coincidentally, it tasted like one too. Not that I’d know, but… my bite revealed capers (interesting) but the overarching taste was of a vinegary acid, chopped onions, and definitely a raw egg mixed in. Sounds like a good mix for a hamburger… but the mush wasn’t at all pleasing for a tartare. My dining companion noted again the grilled country bread on the side that he felt was definitely too strong for the meat’s gently, subtly flavored texture. I wasn’t happy with the image of biting into a completely raw hamburger. ($24)
special of the day
I’m very new to ordering lamb in a restaurant, so bear with me. The meat was very tender, and though my first piece (left) was dry, the rest were extremely juicy and soft. I can’t say they were flavorful, however, I squeezed lemons over them and was extremely pleased with the results. (I never think to put salt on anything, I just didn’t grow up using salt at the dinner table.) The huge mound of watercress was wasted as I dislike raw watercress’s sharp bite, but the lamb chops were devoured quickly. (I spent 20 minutes chatting with my companion as he tried to force raw hamburger meat down his throat- the lamb was gone much sooner than he was done.) ($33)
asparagus (our fourth and final appetizer)
I asked the waiter to bring this special appetizer with our entrees instead, to make it a sort of side. I hadn’t realized, however, how tiny the appetizer portion was- not that this was a bad thing. The asparagus was overcooked, and the cheese that had been melted over the top was extremely pungent- it had the almost bitter taste of Swiss cheese, despite the description indicating it was Parmesan. The “soft poached” egg in the description was also nowhere to be found- our egg had clearly been fried. I did not like this dish at all. ($9)
final piggy move: 4 desserts for 2 people
from left, clockwise: tiramisu, creme brulee, coconut sorbet cone and chocolate mousse
The nice thing about Landmarc is that the desserts are $3 each, and miniature-sized. The waiter said these were about two bites each, though I found them to be pleasantly sized (even if we’d gotten only one each). The chocolate mousse was alright, nothing special; the interesting thing I found was the tiramisu was chewy, in a slightly interesting but not quite unpleasant way. I will remember not to order it again next time, but it was definitely an experience. The creme brulee was your average creme brulee with nothing special, although I did note that the creme part was distinctly cold, not room temperature nor hot, as my boyfriend prefers, but my dining companion said he’d always had it cold. As I’m allergic to coconut, I did not sample the sorbet, but he seemed to like it, leaving the cone at the end.
A few things to note: when we got our bread basket, the butter cup it came with had rock salt sprinkled on top of it, which made it pretty salty. The foie gras had the same salt sprinkled liberally on top, but I didn’t manage to notice this until looking at the pictures. The egg on top of the asparagus also had this salt tossed on top, which might be why the entire dish was overly salty.
Another point to note is that nearly everyone around us got mussels as an appetizer. Since I’m not a huge fan of mussels, though both times it’s called out to me on the menu, I’ve opted for other items. They smelled *fantastic* – my companion remarked on this fact as well. I would definitely like to go back with people who actually like mussels so I can try at least one! I also like that you can choose what they are steamed with- bonus points- and the portions, despite being appetizer sized, look extremely healthy and large.
Finally, our server was extremely pleasant and did not ignore us, despite the other large parties that had come in after we were seated. I never felt ignored nor that we were waiting a long time, although dinner did wind up taking 2.5+ hours. Also, despite eating everything I’d ordered, I didn’t feel so full at the end that I wanted to barf, which is a testament to how light the fare really was- good food does not need to rely on grease or heavy creams and cheeses to be good.
Yvo says: Another great experience- I had a good time and enjoyed the food thoroughly with little complaint. I would still go back yet another time, but not with this dining companion because he didn’t enjoy it as much as I did, depite eating most of the same things. (He did like my lamb, but couldn’t eat the risotto as he’s allergic to shellfish.) I’m giving this a rating of recommended because I don’t know how far out of the way I’d suggest you go to eat here as it’s in TriBeCa, but hey, there’s a couple of other things around the area to check out as well (Color Me Mine springs to mind…)