THE MODERN

October 9, 2005

9 West 53rd St, 212-408-6326

Danny Meyer does it again! So many of our favorite restaurants have sprung from Meyer’s capable hands—Gramercy Tavern, Union Square, Table, 11 Madison Park, etc—and now this gem overlooking the sculpture garden at MOMA is a gift to all. Enter through the Café, either from the museum or the street, where you can grab a lighter meal full of new tastes and creativity seated close enough to your art- and food-loving neighbor to strike up a conversation about the great décor and the limited view of the new sculpture garden. Then, voila! – the adult restaurant, The Modern, quiet, the few tables spaced comfortably apart, and an unobstructed view of the full garden. Varian ate there on two successive days – a rare occurrence – the first with a friend and the next with Gary and a guest. The Modern lunch is either a la carte or a prix fixe menu which changes daily. At $38 for two courses and dessert or $48 for three courses and dessert, this is a great deal.The daily choices always include two appetizers, two fish, two meat/poultry and two desserts. An amuse bouche starts the lunch: one first day, a salt cod gazpacho with caviar and watercress. The first course was a warm shrimp salad with button mushrooms in yogurt with bean sprouts and fava beans served on once trendy now almost clichéd square plates. Opting for the two courses, Varian had the chicken in cocotte with sherry vinegar, wild ramps and celeriac and capers while Inge enjoyed Chatham cod with julienne vegetables in a wine & oyster broth. We both ended with berries.Another day (after the same amuse bouche) Gary and Varian started with a tomato stuffed with fresh tuna, herbs and a lemon gelee on the side, and then both of us chose the roasted veal loin with cauliflower almond puree and snow peas. Varian finished with a trio of chocolate: chocolate tart, chocolate cremeux and chocolate sorbet; while Gary ended with a raspberry vacharin. We finished with espressos and a modest (thank heavens) mignardise selected from the enticing tray or a porcelain box placed on the table..The wine list was reasonably extensive with a bottom-end price of about $40 per bottle with about ½ dozen wines offered by the glass ($10+ per).

Also on the menu the days Varian went were (to name a few that looked particularly appetizing were: Braised rabbit leg with lovage and chanterelles; Daurade with fennel salad and cockles vinaigrette; Poached East Coast halibut in saffron broth, seabean sauce and mushrooms. Maybe the next time!

Addendum

On February 15, 2006, Linda and Michael lunched at The Modern Bar Room, which is the front part of the restaurant.  It has a good modern décor; the service is okay and the clientele very varied.  The menu is a collection of smaller dishes from which one can pick and chose.  Mike had a grilled octopus salad, a tarte flambée and an Alsatian sausage.   Linda had mushroom soup with toasted chorizo ravioli (really,) and a “langoustine” concoction.  The dishes were okay, but disappointing and several were spiked with excessive hot sauce.  We had nice, but quite expensive, wine by the glass.

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