A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger

We've seen a succession of restaurant openings over the last several months, but Linger, the second restaurant from Justin Cucci, the owner/chef of Root Down, may very well be the most anticipated new arrival of the year. And after a remarkably good dinner there last week, at which Cucci, along with executive chef Daniel Asher and pastry chef, Samm Sherman, trotted out plate after plate after plate of things I want to eat again, preferably every day, for the duration of my livelihood, it's a good bet that Linger -- like its name -- is a food temple with major staying power.

Cucci's board is a magnificent interstate of globetrotting street foods, flavors and ingredients, and while there are a myriad of restaurants throughout the city that single out the cuisines that Cucci's menu represents -- Asia, Eurasia, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Morocco, Indonesia, Europe and the Americas -- he's created a singular menu that embraces them all, without overextending his reach.

And the two-tiered space, which resides in the old Olinger Mortuary, is just as much of a conversation piece as the food; the sleek-retro bar is illuminated with Lite-Bright bulbs; there's a shrine of Jesus funeral fans that greets you just beyond the front door; the wallpaper is 1960s vintage; the hostess stand is an old church pew; the furniture, most of it reclaimed, was often rescued from dumpster diving; and since the quarters reside in a former funeral parlor, Cucci played off its morbidity by incorporating a Harold and Maude theme that extends from the bathroom doors to the mural above the kitchen -- all that's missing is a hearse.

Linger opens to the public tomorrow, beginning at 5:30 p.m. (dinner hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 5:30 p.m. to close; happy hour is from 4 to 6:30 p.m.), but before you go, take a romp through our photo essay -- and bring an appetite.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

The new bar at Linger, flanked by a retro bar surfaced with Lite-Bright bulbs and walled with windows overlooking the cityscape.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Love the fact that the kitchen delivers a bowl of spice-scented popcorn to each table to snack on while diners peruse the menu. The popcorn changes on a whim, but on the night I was there, it was a delicious heap of popped kernels dusted with curry.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

A partial glimpse of Linger's new menu, which draws from Asia, Eurasia, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Europe, Indonesia and the Americas.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Pad Thai with rice noodles peanuts, bean curd, pickled vegetables, sprigs of cilantro, garlic chives and a wiggly-jiggly poached egg.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

The surprise stunner of the night: fava bean; lemon and spring pea hummus wreathed with feta, hard boiled egg shavings, paprika and preserved lemon, served with housemade pita bread.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Pakora poppers, deep-fried in tumeric and beer, stuffed with cream cheese and masala potatoes, mango powder and ginger, crowned with cucumbers and pooled in a mint chutney.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Cucumber white gazpacho with white grapes, almonds, shaved radishes and a scoop of terrific tomato sorbet.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Chicken b'stilla pelted with almonds, apricots and golden raisins, powdered with Saigon cinnamon and accompanied by a preserved lemon yogurt.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Goat cheese and compressed watermelon salad with rings of pickled shallots, chile-lime pepitas, aleppo peppers and drizzles of pomegranate molasses.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Organic carrot, Turkish apricot, pine nut and Turkish chile kofte sided with a lemon-tahini yogurt.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Masala dosa hugging spiced potatoes, peas and black mustard seeds, and paired with tamarind-date and coconut chutneys.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Lemon-sprayed grilled octopus with zhartar rice krispies, greens and Fresno chiles, and dressed with a pepperoni vinaigrette.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Vietnamese "goi bo" with wok-seared Wagyu skirt steak, carrots, crispy shallots, pickled daikon, peanuts, mung sprouts, nuoc chm and housemade shrimp chips.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Seared diver scallops, Indonesian corn fritters, fresh ginger and watercress puree.

A photo-centric preview of the new Linger
Lori Midson

Linger's Wagyu burger, slapped with slab bacon, paved with Promontory cheddar and smeared with curried sour cream -- and plated with mashed potato fries and tomato-chipotle ketchup.

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