The Modern Restaurant – NYC
As a lead in to our big night at the Modern, which was within walking distance of our hotel, we decided to visit the Blue Bar, just down the road, to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail. I just thought I would indulge myself with a couple of photos of us girls – all sporting cosmopolitans. It seems like just the right thing to do in New York.
Pesky M and Gorgeous AT
iMac and me – with our Cosmopolitans! Very SITC!
The Modern restaurant is an amazing restaurant that sits within the Museum of Modern Art (or MoMA as it is more fondly known). For us, it was the finest dining experience for the group and it exceeded expectations.
The ambience is stunning – from the beautiful flower arrangements, to the Robbe and Berking cutlery, through to the view of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden from your table – everything is absolutely beautiful. And the service – well it’s sublime. It is like a synchronised dance where everything seamlessly falls into place. This is not one of those casual eateries – the service here was incredibly deferent, and probably a little too formal – but it did fit the setting and it was an absolute joy to watch because it was done so well. For example, at one stage four people stood around us and then silently and unobtrusively leaned in in perfect synchronicity to remove the dress plates from our tables. Amazing.
A view of the restaurant, and iMac nursing one of our bottles of Pinot!
A group of six of us were dining as part of our gastronomic tour of New York City’s great restaurants. So, I won’t be able to describe all the dishes, because I didn’t taste them all. What I can tell you is that everyone was raving about this dinner, even after we left New York. So, I will let the pictures and the menu descriptions tell the story, and where I can I will provide further detail.
At the Modern, unless you are doing the degustation, you choose four courses from various sections of the menu which are helpfully labelled one through four. For ease of reference, I will follow this format as well.
Black Mission Fig with Lavender, Fromage Blanc and Crispy Chicken Skin
Summer Corn, Mango and Rice Salad with Roasted Tomato Coulis
These canapés were to-die-for. I love figs, and they were beautifully complemented by the fromage blanc and the little sprinkling of salty, chicken skin. The summer corn was lovely as well – like a very posh rice salad!
Summer Corn Pannacotta, Gooseberry, Black Walnut, Housemade Duck Prosciutto
I have to tell you, this country does amazing things with its beautiful corn. This pannacotta was sublime – I could have easily had a large one of these for my first course. So delicious, I practically took the pattern off the plate. Well… there was no pattern… but you know what I mean.
Key West Pink Shrimp Cru
Cucumber Vichyssoise, Kumquat Confit and Mint Oil
Gewürztraminer, Anise and Fines Herbes Coulis
“Pralines” of Foie Gras Terrine
Mango Purée and Balsamic Vinegar
Oven Roasted Trumpet Royale Mushrooms
Bouchot Mussels, Toasted Almonds, Jamón Iberico, and Harissa Vinaigrette
This dish was mine and so I can tell you a little about it. First up – it wasn’t what I was expecting. However, in a restaurant like this, that’s par for the course. I wasn’t terribly overwhelmed by this dish. It was served cold, like a salad – which is the bit I wasn’t expecting. In retrospect though, looking at the menu that was my mistake, because everything in the first section was actually served cold. 20:20 hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Munster Brie “Soufflé”
Almond Crumble and Heirloom Carrot Consommé
I indulged in this beautiful dish, and can tell you that the “soufflé” was more like a lovely soft mousse with a little hedonistic rush of brie. The heirloom carrot consommé was flavourful yet light – poured at the table in a delicate stream. Delicious.
John Dory Gratinée
Beggars’ purse of Bouchot Mussels and Pimento Glaze
Pesky M had this dish, and I did hear her raving about it so she was very happy.
Rabbit-Truffle “Alsation Dumplings”
Sunchoke and Crystal Lettuce
Slow-Poached Farm Egg
Black Winter Truffle, Salsify and Squid Ink Spaetzle
Lovely K had this dish and she was raving about it – she loved the slow poached egg. I don’t think she had had one before so wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was beautiful.
Dulse Seaweed-Poached Atlantic Salmon
Salmon Roe, Nasturtium leaves, and White Asparagus Emulsion
Quail Baked “En Terre Glaise”
Macaroni Gratiné, Spinach, and Morels
The quail was my dish – and to be honest, while they’ve tried to dress it up, it doesn’t exactly look like a structured dish. The posh macaroni and cheese was what got me in – but I found it a bit dry. However, the rest of the dish was divine. The quail was perfectly cooked and you got a very plump breast (under the sauce) as well as a delicious leg. The flavours were amazing.
Roasted Mangalitsa Pork “Montmorency”
Sopressata “Ravioli”, Marcona Almond, and Cherry Gastrique
Thomas Farm Rack of Lamb
Olives and Fines Herbes, Bacon Fondue, and Crisp Spring Onion
I love the fact that with this dish, the rack was carved at the table and the sauce prepared and poured over. A lovely bit of theatre with copper pots and pans, all executed very seriously by our waiter. By all accounts the food was delicious as well.
Caramelia Petit Buerre and Lemon Sorbet
Modern Black Forest Fantaisie
Pistachio Ice Cream, Black Currant, and Yoghurt Meringue
I indulged in the Modern Black Forest Fantaisie – which a few people around our table did. In fact, there was a clean sweep between the Lemon Tart and the Fantaisie. There was a beautiful, soft, dark mousse hidden within the tallest chocolate spire I have ever seen. And every element on the plate was beautiful.
I also have to give special mention to the sommelier here, because I was finding it difficult to choose a dessert wine to accompany this rich chocolate dessert. I chose one, but he also poured me a complimentary glass of an alternative and whispered conspiratorially to me that he wanted my take on which wine went better with the dessert. Alas – I couldn’t make up my mind (plus, I don’t think I was actually highly discriminatory by this stage)!!
Mango Ravioli, Coconut Tapioca, and Ten Flavour Sorbet
This dish was delivered complimentary to our table and set in the centre. I think they must have heard us trying to make decisions between the desserts and were gracious enough to send the dish through. It is incredibly spectacular to look at – and the elements were divine. The caramel shard was whisper thin and melt-in-your-mouth, the mango ravioli was a delicate pillow of mango mousse, and the coconut tapioca had just the right balance of sweet creaminess and density.
We were presented with these rather cute praline cones filled with a sorbet. Gorgeous presentation, but the praline did stick to my teeth a bit! Delicious sorbet!
Petits Fours Trolley
And just when you think there’s nothing more you could possibly eat – we were proudly shown the petits fours trolley. That’s right – a trolley groaning with a myriad of petits fours. Oh. My. Goodness. We were allowed to have whatever we wanted – we were so overwhelmed, and so full – that people were hesitant. Not so me, I jumped in – I wanted to try the salted caramel and the cheese in the tubes that was served with little biscuits, and a couple of other people wanted macarons. And of course, what happens is once the trolley is rolled away – everybody wants a bit of everything. Gosh people!!!
Overall, the Modern was an amazing night out. It should be saved for a special occasion because the service delivers a distinctive and extraordinary experience. Although it was a four course meal, if you take into account all the extras, we actually received seven courses. On paper, it will set you back $108 but once you add in drinks and tips you come up closer to $200 per head.
However, I can tell you that it was a stunning evening, and one of the highlights of our trip. Next time, just for something different, we’ll be trying the bar area – just adjacent to the restaurant. It has a reputation for providing a cracking menu and brilliant ambience – it has a completely different vibe to the formality of the restaurant, but just as enjoyable.
The Modern Bar
Nonetheless, as an example of how special this restaurant and its people are, when I was leaving I stopped to take a photo of the roses at the host’s station. The host was there and was so lovely and charming – chatting to me as I was taking photos. Just as I finished, he took one of the roses and gave it to me. It graced my room for the next couple of days – a great reminder of a beautiful night out.
Passing the Rockefeller on the way home