I turned 44 years old last Thursday, and thought that the new Landmarc TWC might be a festive spot for a family celebration. I was right. The six of us—me, Bo, Co, Mom, Dad, Kristina—had a few laughs, ate a lot of good food, and very much enjoyed the terrific Columbus Circle view, the friendly (if a tad clueless) service, and the stylish, buzzy atmosphere. Yes, despite mixed reviews and the mall-ish location on the third floor of the Time Warner Center, this huge place appears to be a huge hit, with every table full by around 7:00, and a big crowd at the bar.
Landmarc TWC's been open for just a couple of weeks, and we could tell: the staff was definitely confused at times, the kitchen struggling to get up to speed. There were certainly no disasters among the eight or so menu items we tried, and much of the food was quite good, but several dishes seemed poised on the brink of true tastiness, only to be undone by a bit of carelessness. Take Dad and Co's Monkfish entrée, for example: perfectly pan-seared, on a bed of wilted watercress, roasted onions and spicy ground chorizo, potentially a brilliant dinner, all sadly overwhelmed by too much vinegar. Or my Thursday pasta special, Orecchiette alla Norcina: the sauce a satisfying, creamy concoction of salty cheese and well-fenneled sausage; the little ears themselves, however, cooked to the point of gumminess. Or my Crispy Sweetbreads, which were rich and tender and excellent, on a saucy plate of overly-garlicked, undercooked haricot verts, which were not.
Mom raved about her Grilled Salmon; Co's favorite thing on the table was a side of Roasted Potatoes (she ate half of her Monkfish before giving up... I ate the other half, vinegar and all); Bo liked her Shrimp Salad—a generous serving of the sautéed crustaceans over frisée and with lots of marinated artichokes—but it was also sauced with too heavy a hand; and Kristina thought her Grilled Skirt Steak Salad just OK. We started the proceedings with two plates of Warm Goat Cheese Profiteroles (total crowd-pleasers, these) and the disappointingly bland Roasted Marrow Bones (the sweet onion marmalade was the highlight there).
And then something amazing happened. We had finished most everything without fuss or complaint (my entree had arrived with the starters, and so I quietly asked that they recook and return it later, please, but that was it) and requested the dessert menu. After cleaning the table and bringing out little sharing plates for everyone, we again requested the dessert menu. Our waiter replied: "We have something special for you instead"... and out came a comprehensive sweet-treat sampler platter and a half-dozen ice cream cones and an enormous pillow of cotton candy, all for free! Was this some kind of birthday surprise? Couldn't be... we never mentioned it anyone. An apology because my entrée had arrived at the wrong time? Seems a little extreme. Because we just looked like such a fun-loving crew? Because Co had a bandage on her arm? Because they thought I was a movie star? I guess we'll never know, but the desserts were delicious—especially the Ice Cream (apple, mango, vanilla, chocolate, lemon, banana), the Chocolate Mousse, and the marzipan-y Tiramisu—the gesture extremely appreciated, and even though I would have returned anyway, now it's a total lock.
Landmarc TWC is on the third floor on the Time Warner Center, on 59th Street and Broadway. They are open from 7:00 am to 2:00 am, and only take reservations for parties of six or more. Dinner prices are extremely reasonable, with most starters and half-plates under $12, and most entrées under $25.