With an aunt-in-law in town last week and concerts and a circus to entertain her with, I found myself near Lincoln Center around dinner time several times last week and managed to eat my way through most of the menu at American Table Cafe and Bar, Marcus Samuelsson's new casual cafeteria inside the Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed lobby of Alice Tully Hall. Those familiar with the space will realize that the "renovation" mostly involved adding furniture (including some plastic cushions attached to the outdoor concrete amphitheater), changing the lighting, and... well that's about it.
It's a minor change, but one that works. The space feels intimate and comfortable without being stuffy, casual without being classless. It's the kind of place you want to go when you have an hour to kill before a show and forgot to make reservations (or don't want to spend the bucks) at Bar Boulud or Boulud Sud across the street. It's the kind of restaurant where you go and order from the counter (look for the iPads whose sole purpose are to display "Order Here" as their batteries slowly run down), but a real live waiter will deliver and clear your food for you once you sit down.