LYNQ doesn’t always link, but does it matter? JLB’s review
How to make the “Now You’re on the Trolley” cocktail from LYNQ in south Fort Myers.
At the stunning and modern LYNQ, a lack of links may be its biggest shortcoming. But our critic found plenty to embrace on this scattershot menu.
It’s rare to sit down at a restaurant and be blown away.
And LYNQ is no exception.
LYNQ’s sister restaurant, Blanc, is the blow-you-away place. Blanc’s the wow-er, the polished stunner that knocks your socks off from French-onion soup to Key lime soufflé.
LYNQ is younger and messier and much louder. It’s craft cocktails and tacos and ramen (more on that in a bit). It’s more freewheeling, more free-spirited.
But it’s no less fun.
LYNQ opened in April in the former Yabo space on Summerlin Road in south Fort Myers. Its owners are Jean-Claude Roge (of Blanc) and Chris Whitaker (of Blanc and Blu Sushi), and from the moment you walk in their touches are obvious.
The white-washed brick and the collages of metal, wood and glass covering the walls are Roge. The smiling host and the panoply of servers — one to deliver plates, another to clear them, a third (sometimes a fourth) to grab that one last dish you hadn’t quite finished — are Whitaker, all the way.
Those servers wear Converse and jeans topped by white T-shirts and gray vests — hipster chic, I think they say. The bartenders have a looser dress code: jeans with Ts of their choosing, vests optional. Some creative freedom to reflect their work.
The bar is one of the most interesting aspects of LYNQ.
Its cocktails range from deliciously inventive (habanero-honey whiskey with ginger ale and lemonade, garnished with a cube of honeycomb and tinged by a hint of mint), to overpowering (a so-called Angry Mule that tasted like Christmas candles), to poorly executed (a rye/blood orange medley poured over so giant an ice cube the drink itself was barely three sips).
But more often than not, I’ve come away impressed — which is also how I feel about LYNQ’s food.
This menu is all over the place, mind you.
The whole point of LYNQ is that it “links” various cultures via one kitchen. Knowing this is key, otherwise you’ll see Caprese, sushi, fried chicken and ramen on a menu and think: Whaaaa?
Managing to actually link these disparate dishes together is LYNQ’s biggest shortcoming.
Its individual plates are often delicious, but what gnocchi has to do with short-rib tacos is a link that’s missing for me.
That those gnocchi, a nod to LYNQ’s predecessor, are even better than I ever remember from Yabo helps, though. They’re puffy and perfect, loosely tethered by a pesto-cream sauce with a rich-yet-grassy bite.
That the Caprese is served as a whole tomato cut in slices, then reassembled with alternating layers of softly pulled mozzarella, helps, too.
LYNQ’s steaks have been excellent on my visits, cut thick and seared to juicy perfection. Same for its Whit’s fried chicken coated in a thick and shatteringly crunchy batter, then served on a brioche bun with a heap of fries cut fat, short and crisp.
The sushi menu feels like an afterthought, lost in the middle of so many other pages. But it’s actually one of LYNQ’s biggest strengths. My rolls have been meticulously crafted, filled with thick cuts of beautiful fish. They’re a little over-sauced, in my opinion, but I didn’t hear anyone around me complaining.
My complaints were with dry short-rib tacos served in cold tortillas and topped with house-made pickles that, while flavorful, ranged in size from whisper thin to thick as your forefinger.
And, much to my chagrin, I haven’t yet been impressed with LYNQ’s ramen (this coming from a critic thrilled just to see ramen).
One night the broth was lusciously rich but chokingly salty, made only more so with each salty bite of pork belly. Another meal the broth was bland and lacked the lushness that made the previous night’s too-salty broth vaguely tolerable.
The broth is a work in progress, but the rest of LYNQ’s ramen components (the wobbly eggs, the crunch of the julienned vegetables, the tender spring of the noodles) are on point, the kind of perfection that gives me hope.
One night my meal included pasta, sushi, Caprese, fried chicken, ramen and some kind of delicious tequila-tres-leches cake for dessert. I left full and happy and slightly confused about what had just taken place.
LYNQ doesn’t always link. It doesn’t often make sense, even, let alone blow you away.
But it’s made considerable progress in two months, and it’s having fun doing so.
And I’m more than happy to keep tabs on it as that progress continues.
16230 Summerlin Road, south Fort Myers
•Hours: 4-11:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, closed Sunday
•Noise level: Moderate to loud, especially so when busy
•Etc.: Full bar; outdoor seating; gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian menus; reservations encouraged
• Pork belly BLT, $9
• Beef carpaccio, $12
• Cobra sushi roll, $15
• Mozzarella burger, $12
• Short-rib ramen, $14
• Lobster ravioli, $24
What the symbols mean
★ – Poor
★★ – Fair
★★★ – Good
★★★★ – Excellent
$ – Average dinner entree is under $10
$$ – $10-$15
$$$ – $15-$20
$$$$ – $20-$25
$$$$$ – $25 and up