I heard so much hype about Linger that I was already skeptical. A hip restaurant opened in the former Olinger mortuary by the owner of Root Down? In fact, I heard a woman gushing about Linger while my girlfriend and I were at Fruition. We were trying to enjoy the small, intimate dining space and each other’s company as this woman proceeded to tout the virtues of another restaurant! “Well sure, this is good, but have you tried the tapas at Linger? Oh it’s just the most amazing space. You just have to go.” And this was only the beginning. So when restaurant week rolled around, Linger was at the top of my list. I was eager to see if this place really lived up to its reputation. Once I got there, though, all I cared about was eating more delicious food off their Restaurant Week menu.
Keri started with the roasted beet salad (above), which was cleverly paired with puffed rice, crunchy lentils and even chutney. What a refreshing start! The flavors worked well with the earthy golden beets, and it was like nothing I’d seen anywhere else. Somebody in the kitchen at Linger must be a textural fanatic as well. The puffed rice really helped keep it light, despite the rich beets and cashews. I got the pork steamed bao (below), which was filled with tasty Mongolian style pork and served on a thick smear of hoisin bbq sauce. The kim chi salad on the side was pleasantly spicy, another nice international fusion surprise.
After such a strong start I was excited about our entrees. Keri got the Yucatan huarache con mahi a la plancha (below), which translates to grilled mahi on “huarache” bread. Named for the popular South American sandal, this roughly sole shaped piece of hearty bread is denser than a tortilla. The toppings were light and refreshing, Keri’s only comment was that you might want to give it all a little mixing before you dig in. The huarache was a bit tough, and there was way more of it than topping to enjoy it with. Still, she said the mahi was crispy and delicious.
I kept with the Asian theme and got the tamarind braised short rib (below). What a beautiful chunk of meat. It came apart at the slightest provocation from my fork, melting in my mouth. The glass noodles swimming in meat juices complimented it nicely, and I loved the fresh cilantro leaves on top. I also got one mint leaf, just one, which made me wonder if in fact it was some kind of error, but I really enjoyed the way it complimented the tamarind flavor of the short rib. The bok choy didn’t knock my socks off, but it made for a nice change of pace from the spicy meat/chile combo. I’d recommend asking for a bit of extra cilantro and chiles with your short rib if you like it spicy. It left my lips tingling and my tummy happy.
Now on to dessert. All of the options were gourmet takes on sort of “trashy” desserts. Like soft serve ice cream, in roasted banana and malted Bailey’s flavors. I opted for the Mississippi mud pie (below) which came to me half submerged in miso-butterscotch sauce. A layer of cake, a layer of pudding stuff and topped with walnut “tuile” crumbles. Again, this was a textural paradise for my tongue. The salty butterscotch sauce at the bottom brought out the darkness of the chocolate and made the whole dish sing.
Keri picked the peanut butter and jelly mousse, because our (awesome) waitress recommended it to us as being photogenic. Boy was she right! The brûléed banana was slightly carmelized, which brought out its natural sweetness nicely. This one was also a masterful exercise in texture, with the rich banana, sponge-like chocolate “crust” beneath it and airy peanut butter mousse (the blurry thing in the back). My only complaint was that I hardly got any of the Cabernet jelly coulis (red line on the right) to combine with it! Maybe ask them to drizzle some over your banana? It might ruin the presentation, but that coulis was so good I would have liked a little more!
If you find the time to stop by, don’t miss their vintage ’70s wall paper, the amazing view from the upstairs or the lightbrite bar! The whole place was almost too cool. Restaurant Week ends today, but don’t let that stop you from heading over to Linger for a mouth-gasm. If you want to make it in tonight, you still have a chance. They don’t take reservations for the bar upstairs, so cross your fingers and head to LoHi.