We packed in like the rest of them for friends and family, and friends of friends of friends of families seemed to be let in with zero exclusivity. And from this, arose the only problems of the night. Service was overwhelmed by over-capacity, hungry waiting diners, and worst of all, the place is so fun and boisterous, nobody that HAD a table was going anywhere any time soon.
The room, actually, might present another problem; while the downstairs lounge and private dining rooms are swank and sexy, the upstairs is a little sterile. The Latin them sort of culminates in an illuminated strip of Spanish culinary offerings mounted above the bar, while the rest of the room could house any type of cuisine whatsoever. Even suspended from the ceiling are huge Chinese lanterns. But the food, across the board, was pretty tasty. That is, once we finally procured any.
It being F&F, I'm hoping the service we experienced was merely first-day-of-school jitters. It took an hour to be seated, probably another to order and yet another to finally receive our entrees.... our entrees, only, because the appetizer order we put in somehow mysteriously got lost in transit. When we asked if they were on their way, or just late, our server pretty much told us to forget about it. The order was lost and the kitchen was so deep in the weeds there was no way to get it done in any reasonable time frame. So we were happy to have encountered some mutual friends that had been seated earlier so we could taste THEIR appetizers, all of which were quite good. Crunchy little fresh corn tostadas were bright and corny, with a squiggle of zesty mayo atop. A brilliant green fluke ceviche was full of vim and vigor, and a hearts of palm salad tangy and refreshing,
piled with frisee and sections of citrus along with the chunks of core. In fact, the prominent flavor in most all the food is a zippy acidity, from the chimichurri served with all the entrees, to citrusy broths and kicks of vinegar. It's a nice change from soupy reductions and rich juices from wintery braises, but doesn't seem overtly unseasonal, either. Case in point, the brussels sprouts we finally procured hours after we ordered them: fried to a burnished crisp, they were spiked with vinegar and strewn with spicy little rounds of sliced chili and a dusting of strong, grated cheese. Not, perhaps, the healthiest preparation of the crucifer, but mighty tasty.
Entrees suffer a bit of monotony in plating, but all were technically very good. Any given protein is served with a (huge) pile of arugula, a half-tomato roasted chewy on the outside and warm and richly juicy within, and a little tub of kicky chimichurri to anoint. Big head-on shrimp come six to a plate, perfectly seasoned and of superb quality. Same goes for the pork ribs, which were lean and flavorful, gristle-free with just the right amount of chew.
Overall, though, I think Super Linda will have a remarkable following. With the cache of it's sibling, La Esquina, and Abramcyk at the helm, the food only needs to be good enough in order for it to succeed. And quite frankly, I think it's better.