A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
We've seen a succession of restaurant openings over the last several months, but Linger, the second restaurant from Justin Cucci, the owner/chef of Root Down, may very well be the most anticipated new arrival of the year. And after a remarkably good dinner there last week, at which Cucci, along with executive chef Daniel Asher and pastry chef, Samm Sherman, trotted out plate after plate after plate of things I want to eat again, preferably every day, for the duration of my livelihood, it's a good bet that Linger -- like its name -- is a food temple with major staying power.
Cucci's board is a magnificent interstate of globetrotting street foods, flavors and ingredients, and while there are a myriad of restaurants throughout the city that single out the cuisines that Cucci's menu represents -- Asia, Eurasia, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Morocco, Indonesia, Europe and the Americas -- he's created a singular menu that embraces them all, without overextending his reach.
And the two-tiered space, which resides in the old Olinger Mortuary, is just as much of a conversation piece as the food; the sleek-retro bar is illuminated with Lite-Bright bulbs; there's a shrine of Jesus funeral fans that greets you just beyond the front door; the wallpaper is 1960s vintage; the hostess stand is an old church pew; the furniture, most of it reclaimed, was often rescued from dumpster diving; and since the quarters reside in a former funeral parlor, Cucci played off its morbidity by incorporating a Harold and Maude theme that extends from the bathroom doors to the mural above the kitchen -- all that's missing is a hearse.
Linger opens to the public tomorrow, beginning at 5:30 p.m. (dinner hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 5:30 p.m. to close; happy hour is from 4 to 6:30 p.m.), but before you go, take a romp through our photo essay -- and bring an appetite.
Love the fact that the kitchen delivers a bowl of spice-scented popcorn to each table to snack on while diners peruse the menu. The popcorn changes on a whim, but on the night I was there, it was a delicious heap of popped kernels dusted with curry.