With a new menu in tow, Lincoln Restaurant and the adjoining Bar 1936 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn impress in ways most modern steakhouses fall short.
There’s an authentic aim to please at Lincoln Restaurant that takes the dining experience there to a different level. This atmosphere is almost always created from the top down and General Manager and Sommelier David Kent is no exception. Whether it’s an impromptu tour and lesson about rare scotches or remembering specific, minor details about previous visits, Kent and the entire front-of-house staff tailor the evening to the guest in unique ways.
As you would expect from a resort and restaurant that sit in the shadow of Camelback Mountain, the views available during sunset are some of the best in the Valley. The interior of Lincoln is classic and consistent with the Southwest feel of the rest of the resort. An evening here should begin either on the back patio (if available) or at Bar 1936 with a handcrafted specialty cocktail. A barrel-aged Manhattan, Reanimator gin cocktail or Strawberry Crush Cosmo are all fine choices. If you’re switching to wine for dinner, do not hesitate to use Kent’s expertise to select the perfect bottle for the table.
Our server, Samanda, was a case study of why premiere service industry employees at all levels should be well-compensated. There is good service and then there is service that guides you through the evening, points you to the best choices and pairings. Service that magically appears when the timing is right but disappears when you’re rapt in conversation. There is a desire to make the night magical for everyone and an ability to make it seem effortless.
The menu begins with the “On Ice” section. Both East and West Coast oysters are available with a variety of sauces and garnishes. There is also a Table Tower with oysters, shrimp, lobster and king crab that would make a fun start for a group.
The Starters, Soup & Salads section is large, varied and a bit seafood-heavy. The usual steakhouse options like Chopped and Wedge (already cut) salads and crabcakes are present but some of the best dishes of the evening were the Tuna Poke with avocado and a soy mustard vinaigrette and the Lobster done escargot-style. The Lobster “escargot” is a good decision just for the chance to dip the wonderful, local, Noble bread in the butter sauce.
Entrees are divided into the “Butcher’s Steaks” and the “Chef’s List” (non-steaks). There are creative selections in the Chef’s List like Dover Sole, “Schnitzel on the Bone” and Colorado Lamb. While those are all fine options, Cedar River and Snake River Farms steaks aren’t available to most of us on a regular basis. Multiple add-ons and sauces are at the ready. As Samanda rightfully pointed out, these steaks do not need enhancement, but the occasional dip of béarnaise or indulging in a Rogue Blue and Bacon topping never hurt anyone.
Side dishes are far from an afterthought at Lincoln, with potatoes prepared in almost every style you could imagine. Smashed and fried, goat cheese au gratin and many more. It’s the potato version of the shrimp scene in Forrest Gump. “Plants” are available as well and the Brussel sprouts with golden raisins and bacon received raving reviews from a nearby table.
It’s a small touch, but if you appreciate beautiful plating, make sure to save room for desserts that could pass for works of art. If you are a fan of peanut butter and jelly, the Peanut Butter and Jelly Pie is an absolute must-have. Yes, the cheesecake is a fine choice, but for the majority of people who have fond memories of “PB&J” growing up, that will be the “go-to” dessert.
Lincoln Restaurant is open daily from 5pm to 10pm and Bar 1936 opens one hour earlier. Happy Hour is available in the bar only, from 4 to 7pm. For more information and to view the various menus, visit marriott.com.