PhoenixBites Review | The Lincoln Restaurant
I love celebrating, from birthdays to anniversaries, milestones to good grades. Recently my husband and I hit our very own milestone, 10 years of marriage. We don’t spend many nights out as a duo and while I attend a number of events he doesn’t get to come with me as we have a babysitter issue. Our two boys aren’t old enough to stay home alone and both of our parents live a substantial distance from us. Recently, however, we were able to spend a night out alone and we headed out to try The Lincoln Restaurant for the first time. After a day at the soccer field with our boys it was nice to get dressed up and hit the town, and I couldn’t think of a better place to experience for the first time with my Mister.
As we approached the restaurant, the space was buzzing; it was a Saturday night after all. We were quickly greeted, checked in and escorted to our table. Our server, Austin, checked in with us and made a few menu and drink suggestions before departing to give us time to ponder our choices. The music was muted and there were a number of seating options, from booths to freestanding tables to a sort of mix of the two. We sat in the middle of the restaurant at a corner table which was part banquette (the corner provided an L shape) and two comfortable chairs as well. There were even fluffy pillows for optimum comfort.
When we checked out the cocktail menu, I spied a drink called the Bee’s Knees and since I have referred to some of my favorite people with this kitschy nomenclature from far before my time; I felt like it was destiny. The Bees Knees is a sweet and tart combination of CaskWerks gin, AZ Mountain Top honey along with lemon and orange juice. The result is a lightly colored drink, mellow and slightly reminiscent of lemonade – but really good boozy lemonade.
My Mister will try out any version of an old-fashioned he finds on any menu and the Fig-Titious Old Fashion at the Lincoln Restaurant looked to be right up his alley. His drink was a combination of Makers 46, Courvoisier VSOP, M& R Rosso Vermouth, Peychauds bitters as well as Angostura bitters. I had a sip and loved the slight chocolate flavor present.
We were soon ready for our starters and since I know Executive Chef Chris Neff; I had checked in with him earlier to see if he had any suggestions on can’t miss dishes since it was our first visit. He had noted that he was really proud of the fried cauliflower and beet salad starters, so when Austin came back around that’s just what we ordered.
My beet salad arrived on the plate like a work of art. The dish itself is made up of beets from Chef Neff’s garden, palm heart, blood orange and Crow’s Dairy goat cheese. The salad is then topped with an aromatic St. Germain vinaigrette. The palm heart added some architectural interest to the dish, in addition to the distinct flavor it imparts. Beets are a favorite of mine and despite what others may say about beet salad being played out on menus, I order it every time I see it. Call me basic, it’s cool by me. The golden and candy cane beets played off of each other, each bringing a different flavor profile to the salad and that dressing was pretty much everything. The addition of the goat cheese added a creamy texture and getting a bite of all components was pure heaven.
My husband’s fried cauliflower was a mix of pickly and smoky perfection. The fried cauliflower on its own had a great flavor and structure, with the frying process adding an altogether different flavor profile than you get from the steaming process most frequently used. The pickled vegetables added a nice level of acidity and tartness that really balanced the dish. Add in the smoked yogurt for some creaminess and another level of interest and you have a complex amalgam of elements that presents itself as simple and approachable.
For my husband, the entrée choice was easy; he went for the bacon wrapped sea bass. Take his favorite fish and his favorite pork product and there really couldn’t be anything better in his book. His entrée was served on a bed of green lentils, pickled fennel and topped with an orange hinted dressing. The lentils were cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of bite and earthiness. The sea bass was tender and moist despite the beautiful char on the bacon surrounding it. Pairing the great essence of anise within the fennel with the orange dressing was a brilliant choice and really lent itself to pairing the flavors of the sea bass and lentils.
I had a harder time with my decision and couldn’t decide between the seared diver scallops and the bone-in rib eye (because you can take the girl out of the Midwest…) Since I was unable to make a decision, I left it up to Chef Neff to decide for me and I was delighted with the scallops. My scallops arrived on a bed of tepary bean ragout. You may not know, but tepary beans are native to the Southwestern states and while they look a lot like legumes, they have a surprising sweetness to them which made them the perfect partner in crime alongside the subtle sweetness of the scallops, Brussels sprouts and that lovely speck ham crisp that played a supporting role. I had a hard time sharing this one, but it was our anniversary dinner and there are some things that must be done in the name of love.
While most folks on a date would be inclined to share a dessert as a romantic gesture, the Mister and I were raised as only children, making us not the best at sharing so we both ordered our own and allowed a bite or two to the other out of sheer kindness.
I ordered the maple donut and was smitten immediately by the display. It shows up as a delightful donut, but there is always more than meets the eye at The Lincoln Restaurant. One touch of the fork and you quickly recognize that there is more of a cream texture which makes sense as it is a maple and toasted brioche Bavarian. The composition was delicate and silky and if you wait just a moment or two after the first bite that pure maple flavor creeps up from the back of your mouth. The donut is placed atop a house made apple butter (did I mention that I am from the Midwest…apple butter is life!) and a pecan streusel for added flavor and texture.
The Mister opted for the warm butter cake, which is never a bad decision, and I believe he may have been sold by the mention of whiskey hard sauce. Another absolutely gorgeous dish; the cake was encompassed by spiced apples and crowned with Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream which slowly swirled and swam around the apples and infused into the cake. The whiskey sauce added a lot of depth and cut a little of the sweetness, and while my Spanx and my stomach were in absolute opposition and I may have been losing a bit of circulation, I soldiered on trying a few bites, it was completely worth it.
Chef Neff and Austin took great care of us and I highly recommend The Lincoln Restaurant for your next date night. I will say that we did happen upon quite a few solo diners, presumably on business and guests of the hotel, so it is a great spot for an everyday dinner as well. The Mister and I will not be waiting for the next anniversary to stop in again.
The Lincoln Restaurant | 5402 E. Lincoln Drive | Scottsdale | 85253 | 480.905.7979
**I would never try to trick you! So you should know that I was personally invited to experience The Lincoln Restaurant. All the tastes, comments, and recommendations are made by me. My words and opinions are my own and cannot be influenced, not even by the tastiest of foods! Check out our Disclosure Policy for more information. **
If you are looking for the best and latest in Arizona restaurant and culinary news, please make sure to sign up for our newsletter, give us a like on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram to make sure that you never miss a bite!
© Taryn Jeffries 2017