The last time I posted about Linger, I was enamored with its so-called raw samosas (not really anything like their Indian namesake, but memorably delicious nonetheless). Well, déjà vu. The free-wheeling, jet-setting small-plates menu always has at least 1 raw preparation; if you’re not familiar with raw-food “cooking,” to use a contradiction in terms, there’s some useful info here—& as healthful as it is in many ways, its copious use of plant-based fats like nuts, olives & avocados means it tends toward richness, not the dry, dreary vittles you might expect. Anyway, the current offering knocked me out all over again.
Though the menu listed my choice of grilled naan or flax crackers, I received take-’em-or-leave-’em pita wedges—which was fine; I’d have polished off the cashew ranch dip (left) & green-olive chutney (right) on cardboard. While the former was intensely thick & creamy & the latter surprisingly airy, both were luscious—not just twists but improvements on their respective standards. So was the beet “cheesecake” with date-pistachio crust (center; click to enlarge): tinglingly tangy yet balanced by its silken texture, savory-sweet, just superb on all counts.
As was most everything else. Linger really does capture the zeitgeist, don’t it? Local sources, worldly results; craft cocktails, ever-changing beers, wines by the glass for the enophile as well as the novice; electric but still comfy, not painfully edgy, vibe. I’m not sure the falafel balls made with carrots & lentils as well as the traditional chickpeas exactly matched their description: cashews, gingered shiitakes, zucchini pickle & more were also listed, yet may or may not have been present, & fried shallots weren’t listed yet clearly played a role. Regardless, their flavor was smackingly vibrant, enhanced by the chile-dusted lemon-tahini-yogurt dip, & smartly served on Bibb lettuce leaves, since their interiors were fairly soft & loose.
Also inspired were the French-onion mussels. Italians aren’t wrong about much, culinarily speaking, but their insistence that seafood & cheese don’t go together is way off-base. The umami of the broth, the salty gruyère & parmesan, the sweetly meaty shellfish, the tart crispness of sliced apples & fennel, the crunch of the warm grilled sourdough for sopping it all up—this dish was a reminder that there’s virtually nothing that can’t be combined if you’ve got the vision & the touch.
As for the coconut milk-based Thai soup known as tom kha gai, it doesn’t usually contain butternut squash or avocado, but their addition here provided buttery sweetness & warmth.
My companions & I dug into some other goodies as well—unusually creamy salmon ceviche with super-papery root-veggie chips, for instance,
as well as some bao, tacos & dosai. But it’s the raw dishes that will continue to, yes, linger in my thoughts. On that note, sister restaurant Root Down hosts a monthly Raw Food Night—I’d best amble over soon.