The Music of Eating at Lincoln Center

A few years ago Lincoln Center reinvented itself, moving from the big blocky music buildings to an open, freer, more exciting space. This renovation began officially in 2010, and is still in progress. Incredible New York architect Hugh Hardy, who made Bryant Park dynamic again, opened the space, adding stairway words that come on every night, glamorous glass entranceways, a big new dynamic fountain, and restaurants all around, ranging from informal to formal. Every one is exciting.

The David Rubenstein Atrium, on 61st Street and Broadway, has become my new office. I meet everyone there because it is absolutely beautiful (vertical gardens, free concerts, tickets for Lincoln Center, wi-fi, many places to meet and sit). And Tom Colicchio, one of New York’s absolute best chefs, has the food concession. All day it is possible to have a perfect cappuccino, soup, a sandwich, or a wide range of cookies. I’ve had them all. Thursdays there are free performances in the space, and Saturdays there are often free family programs. The rest of the week, it’s a perfect place to sit.

Daniel Boulud, famed restauranteur, now has three restaurants in a row across from Lincoln Center. The Bar Boulud, which opened a few years ago, is airy and elegant— high ceilings, French formal (there’s a dress code) with what Boulud calls new traditional French food that is seasonal and delicious. Next door on the corner is an informal takeout place, Epicerie Boulud, 1900 Broadway.  Sometimes we have the perfect meal of oysters and a glass of white wine before our concerts or movies. It’s possible to sit at tables on the street. The store is as beautiful as a Parisian food emporium: perfect breads and sandwiches, fresh macaroon cookies in every color. Last spring, he opened Boulud Sud, 20 West 64the Street, a Mediterranean themed place with an immediate buzz (always packed, always delicious – how does that happen in some restaurants and not in others?)

Last week another new café opened, by downtown restauranteur Jason Denton (Ino, Enoteca) one of my personal favorites. His Indie Café  is housed in Lincoln Center’s fabulous new $40 million movie theater, the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, home to much of the New York Film Festival this year.  The theater itself, housing two screens, is beyond state of the art. It is truly spectacular (144 West 65th Street).

We went to Indie’s first night. Denton is known for inexpensive, memorable meals (those two words don’t go together often enough). It’s a modern, simple, elegant room, seating 50 people, with a cafeteria style menu. I love his vegetables: escarole and roasted butternut squash with toasted pistachios, sage, and gorgonzola, or chickpea, mozzarella and black olive salad. Beets are roasted with pumpkin seeds. Wonderful sandwiches and plates are available too—duck legs, buttermilk poached organic chicken breasts. No liquor license, but if you want a glass of wine in a soaring setting, cross the street to the new Alice Tully Hall café (1941 Broadway). You can sit in an enormous glass room that looks like a magic outer space ship. If you’re still hungry, Marcus Samuelsson of Acquavit and Red Rooster fame, serves Global Street Food there—Shrimp Piri Piri, Doro Wat from Ethiopia, and Swedish Pancake Cake for dessert.