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The Lincoln Center Comeback

Dining out near the arts complex has never been more exciting.

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By Nikita Richardson

If the new dining scene at Rockefeller Center was the restaurant event of 2022, something slightly smaller but no less exciting is playing out at Lincoln Center. Last summer, I addressed a reader question about where to dine near the arts complex and found myself struggling to find pre-ballet-opera-Philharmonic options that were on the newer side.

In just four short months, that has become a nonissue.

Dinner Without Leaving Geffen Hall

Let’s start with Tatiana, the first New York City restaurant from the chef and reality television star Kwame Onwuachi. It sprang up in the lobby of the newly renovated David Geffen Hall a few weeks before Thanksgiving, promising cheffed-up takes on African-diaspora favorites like Jamaican patties and braised oxtails.

I stopped by the dimly lit restaurant soon after it opened for a quick bite before taking in “Jurassic Park” — for the first time, if you can believe it — shown with a live orchestra. The food was all-in-all delightful and creative, and this week Pete Wells, awarding the restaurant three stars, wrote that it “gives us food from cultures that are part of Mr. Onwuachi’s world but that weren’t usually on display at Lincoln Center, to put it mildly.” Tatiana also serves a small late-night menu (and its tip-top cocktails) from 10 to 11 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, for any post-performance hunger pangs.

If you can’t get a seat at Tatiana — an unavoidable post-review woe — consider Bad Roman, the latest restaurant from the Quality Branded group. You have to take two escalators to reach this clubby restaurant inside the Shops at Columbus Circle, but once you’re inside, you’ll quickly forget you’re dining at the mall. (You will unfortunately be reminded when you leave; as one of my dining companions said, “I can’t believe Per Se is also here.”)

Bad Roman is … not bad! There are some misses — do not under any circumstances order the “reverse affogato,” a cloudy mess of milk-washed vodka and coffee granita — but do order the crispy pepperoni cups with ranch dressing and fresh basil, the spicy gem Caesar, the grilled pork shoulder, the truly excellent penne luongo alla Gricia and the lemon cheesecake, which is a credit to both cheesecakes and desserts in general.

A Pre-Show Seafood Tour

So Tatiana and Bad Roman are slammed. Luckily for you, one of Columbus Circle’s best-kept secrets, at least for now, is El Fish Marisqueria, the latest restaurant from the chef Julian Medina and the restaurateur Louis Skibar, best-known for their theater district and Upper West Side favorite, Toloache. At West 67th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, El Fish is close enough to Lincoln Center to keep you from arriving late to the Met and being sent to opera jail, or as the Met’s tardiness policy calls it, “List Hall."

Unsurprisingly, seafood is the star player at El Fish, though there are options like pollo a la plancha and Caesar salad. This Medina project is quiet, intimate and the service is top-notch. Start with the lobster aguachile, its tender pieces of lobster arranged in a circle over a bed of rich peanut butter-yuzu sauce. Split the pescadillas Acapulco, two corn tortillas stuffed with a hearty fish hash and topped with super-ripe avocado. Make your own pan-fried lobster tacos with the langosta Ensenada and close the show with ice cream and a warm churro. (Throw in a couple of watermelon margaritas along the way.)

Finally, sidle up to whatever show you’re taking in that evening and let the undeniable beauty of the finest fine arts — and a great meal — swallow you whole.

In Other News …

This week, Pete Wells reviewed Tatiana by Kwame Onwuachi, which he says “sets itself apart with its New York focus and New York style.”

Openings: The Midtown townhouse that was once home to Lidia Bastianich’s Felidia will become Anto, a new Korean fine-dining restaurant on March 22; Wylie Dusfresne of ~wd50 fame will open Stretch Pizza in collaboration with Breads Bakery on Friday; and a new Cambodian restaurant, Lula Mae, arrives in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

Guess who’s back? Angel’s Share, the beloved cocktail bar, will rise again in a new location, 45 Grove Street, Robert Simonson reports. It will be under the ownership of Erina Yoshida, the daughter of the original owner, Tony Yoshida.

This week, Eric Asimov wrote in praise of winemakers who aren’t focused on producing the world’s best Riesling or the most noteworthy Cabernet, but “the best possible wine from the place where the grapes are grown.”

Brett Anderson wrote about the enduring interest in “Top Chef, entering its 20th season, as both a reality television show and a barometer of America’s obsession with food television.

There’s nothing sad about leftovers, especially not with the growing number of cookbooks, including a new one from Tamar Adler, dedicated to no-waste cooking, Tejal Rao writes.

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