Day: February 19th, 2007

The Linden Place

Monday, February 19th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Family

There is no shortage of excellent dimsum places in Flushing’s Chinatown, but with J and J in town for the Chinese New Year weekend, Mom and Dad wanted to try someplace special. Or at least someplace different. That place was The Linden Place.

The restaurant space once housed a 25,000 square foot warehouse, nestled along a dreary stretch of road lined with parking lots and auto glass repair shops, a couple blocks east of the Van Wyck Expressway. Today, The Linden Place is one of the largest catering halls in the area. As we pulled up to the parking lot, we could not miss the fancy attempt at an entrance, featuring a banner frieze emblazoned with the restaurant name in Gothic font, and a set of similarly imprinted stairs leading up to the heavy double doors. Not my taste, but knowing that such weirdly gaudy touches will sometimes pass as shorthand for “upscale” in Chinese restaurants, I was willing to keep an open mind. But nothing could have prepared us for what lay within.

All I could say was: Yikes.

Linden Place

Linden Place

Linden Place

Linden Place Ceiling Mural

Inside was a gold-red explosion of faux tapestries, gilt-framed “paintings,” granite pillars, pasted-on ceiling “murals,” hollow resin-cast statues and urns… and the pièce de résistance, a disco-balled dance floor, over which perched a huge projection screen and Juliet terraces strung with multi-colored Christmas lights.

I’ll say it again: Yikes.

Dad explained that the aesthetic was probably a misguided attempt to recall the glamorous, colonial-era Shanghai, with its meshing of European-style décors.  In the years following the end of the Opium War, enclaves — concessions — of the city housed concentrations of British, French and Americans (also Japanese, Germans, and to a smaller extent: Italians, Belgians, Russians and Austro-Hungarians) who built up the area in the styles of their homeland. With the treaty-mandated opening of the city to European trade, Shanghai’s foreign population grew from 10,000 in 1910 to 60,000 by 1940. It was during this period that the great buildings that still line the Bund were erected. Once the most famous street in Asia, the Bund is comprised of 52 buildings of varying architectural style, including Art Deco, Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Neo-classical, Renaissance – though I would venture, never all at the same time, as on display here.

The over-the-top décor, though, was incidental to our lunch, and if nothing else, it served as a topic for animated table conversation. Together, we toasted in the Year of the Pig with dimsum (which was fine, but pricy) and J’s favorite nian gao — Chinese New Year sticky cakes.

New Years Pigs

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