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The Modern at MoMA


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I'd say four-star-potential, definitely. All the elements are there. Would I give a four-star review based on what I've seen? I'd probably give a three-star rave and point to four-star potential on about a one-year time horizon.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'd say four-star-potential, definitely. All the elements are there. Would I give a four-star review based on what I've seen? I'd probably give a three-star rave and point to four-star potential on about a one-year time horizon.

Would you say that things have improved markedly over the initial few months? I went pretty early (mid-march) and I thought it would comfortably earn a NYT three star and was very surprised when it didn't.

But I also didn't see where it had the potential to get to a fourth star without some changes in style. I didn't get the sense that they were aiming at that level. The service was excellent but I didn't get that sense of pampering that I associate with four-star dining.

And I agree on the amuses. Three great little bites is a great concept, but none of the three pulled that off on my visit.

Bill Russell

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What elements of four-star dining luxuriousness did you feel were not present? To me, the key elements were in place from the concept stage onward. The two slight bits of misdirection I've noticed are 1) that the restaurant is very contemporary -- very, well, uh, modern -- and so it doesn't carry with it some of the cognitive cues that an old-school plush-banquettes place would have (this threw a lot of people off when Jean Georges opened, and I think were it not for Ruth Reichl's premature four-star review and Jean-George's personal relationships with tastemakers the history of that place would have been rather different), and 2) that the proximity to the Bar Room -- especially the required parade through the Bar Room to get to the back -- gives a casual first impression (I think a separate entrance and a higher wall will, upon reflection, seem to have been good ideas).

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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What elements of four-star dining luxuriousness did you feel were not present? To me, the key elements were in place from the concept stage onward. The two slight bits of misdirection I've noticed are 1) that the restaurant is very contemporary -- very, well, uh, modern -- and so it doesn't carry with it some of the cognitive cues that an old-school plush-banquettes place would have (this threw a lot of people off when Jean Georges opened, and I think were it not for Ruth Reichl's premature four-star review and Jean-George's personal relationships with tastemakers the history of that place would have been rather different), and 2) that the proximity to the Bar Room -- especially the required parade through the Bar Room to get to the back -- gives a casual first impression (I think a separate entrance and a higher wall will, upon reflection, seem to have been good ideas).

The modern feel didn't bother me at all, in fact despite their very basic appearance the chairs were the most comfortable I've ever had the pleasure of eating a meal in outside of my sofa. (The chairs I sat in last week at Charlie Trotter's that made my foot fall asleep could learn a few things from the chairs at the Modern.)

I think the Bar Room entrance is part of it. We were early for our reservation and had to sit at the long banquette near the bar for about 10 minutes before being seated.

I also didn't have the feel that there were always eyes upon our table anticipating our needs - when we needed water, or a wine pour or if anything was amiss. Not that I necessarily want a hovering presence , but I've not been to any four-star level places where there wasn't that awareness.

Neither of these are major issues, and our visit was early. But when you are looking to make the jump to four stars it is the little things that count.

Bill Russell

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We were there on an atypical night for water, because yesterday there was this scare about the storm runoff and bacteria and such. So the whole level of water awareness was very high. We also completely tortured the waitstaff with our water requests. First we interrogated them about the number of microns of their water filtration system, then we had a discussion about how their ice maker also has filtration, then we ordered both still and sparkling bottled water, then one person in our group wanted ice on the side so they brought a silver ice bucket, then I switched to tap water because even when my life depends on it and my friend is paying for dinner I still can't stand to be complicit in spending money on bottled water. Needless to say, very early on we were identified as high-maintenance water customers and got a lot of water attention. I agree that basics like water and wine refilling are critical baseline elements of a four-star restaurant -- actually those elements should be flawless at the three-star level too.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I know I've said this a hundred times before, but I feel it's necessary to re-state. Who really cares if they pour their own wine? Actually I prefer it. Sometimes I want just a small amount in my glass, other times a bit more. I've asked waiters not to pour wine for myself and/or guests becuase I preferred to do it myself.

In the perfect four-star restaurant, the wait staff would serve the food, open the wine and let me alone to enjoy the food and company. If I needed anything, they should be within eye or ear shot so I can get their attention. They could even leave a water pitcher on the table (if that was deemed necessary).

Ambiance is totally over-rated. The quality and preparation of the food is all that really matters. The only thing I require of a restaurant room/building is cleanliness, friendly staff and comfortable surroundings. The rest is just so much bull.

Eat and enjoy - never mind who pours the wine, it just matters who drinks it.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I know I've said this a hundred times before, but I feel it's necessary to re-state. Who really cares if they pour their own wine? Actually I prefer it. Sometimes I want just a small amount in my glass, other times a bit more. I've asked waiters not to pour wine for myself and/or guests becuase I preferred to do it myself.

In the perfect four-star restaurant, the wait staff would serve the food, open the wine and let me alone to enjoy the food and company.

But that isn't the typical standard at a four-star restaurant. I'd rather eat my dinner wearing sweatpants and at-shirt, but I'm not expecting that at a four star restaurant either. (I know that is an extreme example, but I like the image.)

They could even leave a water pitcher on the table.

Now that I'd be down with.

Bill Russell

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In several Michelin three-star restaurants in France, when I have ordered tap water they have left a carafe of it on the table. A nice carafe, mind you, and very rarely have I ever actually gotten to touch it because they always top off your water anyway, but I do enjoy having it there.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The water service at the Modern is very nice, by the way. The pitchers are stainless and have very unusual clean lines -- they look like a cross between the bullet train standing on end and an asymmetrical bud vase. The bottled waters -- I forget the brands -- are in very elegant bottles and are not the typical Evian and Pellegrino crap.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I've been gearing up for my day trip to the city for a couple of weeks. We made it to the bar room at around 6:00. We only had to wait about ten minutes for one of the small tables. I really loved the atmosphere and look of the room. My daughter felt the same. The bathroom situation was a bit weird to me, but it was attractive enough so that I got over it.

We shared seven plates (not including dessert). While the service was quick and efficient, they brought all four dishes of the first round that we ordered at the same time. There was no room for it all at the tiny table. I figured they would know that, but for some reason they didn't.

Here is the list of what we order in order of my favorites first.

1. Muscovy Duck with lychee and mint. This was a fantastic dish. The lycees really added it.

2. Diver scallops with poppy seeds- also great

3. Duck confit- my daughter's favorite

4. Braised pork cheeks- very good, but nothing fantastic

5. smoked eel rillettes- I was looking forward to this one, and while I found it interesting, it was a bit bland.

6. cucumber and mint gazpacho- really delicious gazpacho and crab cakes, but I did not like them together at all.

7. Arctic char- What am I missing? I loved the presentation, but it tasted very ordinary.

My daughter loved th panna cotta, and I thought the berries and ice cream were okay.

My mango mohito was delcious.

Our bill came to about $200 with tip. That did not inlcude our drinks at the bar before being seated. We were stuffed.

I would go back again, but am not going to rave about this experience to my friends. I agree that the next time I venture to the bar room, it will be after a trip to the museum.

I would still like to get to the restaurant.

Edited by ada (log)
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  • 2 months later...

Since my last post I've been to the Bar Room (I've now decided once and for all that I refuse to capitalize the "t" in "the" unless it's at the beginning of a sentence) four more times, including my best meal yet there last night. It's going to get boring if I start listing every dish, but my enthusiasm for the place grows with each visit. Service is increasing in competence (I've got to think this has something to do with the arrival of Graceanne Jordan as the new general manager; Graceanne was previously the general manager at Jean Georges and before that worked for Danny Meyer at Gramercy Tavern -- she was on the original staff there), the menu is evolving nicely into colder weather (I'm kicking myself for not asking how to make the cabbage-with-gruyere garnish for the shrimp) and most notably the desserts are getting more elegant (a grape "sundae" was one of the most enjoyable and refreshing desserts I've had for awhile: layers of red and white grape sorbet, fresh grapes and currants -- one of those rare desserts where the best bite is the last).

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Since my last post I've been to the Bar Room (I've now decided once and for all that I refuse to capitalize the "t" in "the" unless it's at the beginning of a sentence) four more times, including my best meal yet there last night. It's going to get boring if I start listing every dish, but my enthusiasm for the place grows with each visit. Service is increasing in competence (I've got to think this has something to do with the arrival of Graceanne Jordan as the new general manager; Graceanne was previously the general manager at Jean Georges and before that worked for Danny Meyer at Gramercy Tavern -- she was on the original staff there), the menu is evolving nicely into colder weather (I'm kicking myself for not asking how to make the cabbage-with-gruyere garnish for the shrimp) and most notably the desserts are getting more elegant (a grape "sundae" was one of the most enjoyable and refreshing desserts I've had for awhile: layers of red and white grape sorbet, fresh grapes and currants -- one of those rare desserts where the best bite is the last).

I agree completely I have eaten there maybe 10-12 times since they have opened, it is one of the best places doing the tapas style imho. I already had plans to eat there tmrw for lunch and am glad to see that the menu is moving into the fall.

Edited by M.X.Hassett (log)
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...and most notably the desserts are getting more elegant (a grape "sundae" was one of the most enjoyable and refreshing desserts I've had for awhile: layers of red and white grape sorbet, fresh grapes and currants -- one of those rare desserts where the best bite is the last).

I definitely agree with Fat Guy on this one. That grape sundae was incredible. Wonderfully sweet, tart, and refreshing right to the very end. The concord grape sorbet especially was undoubtedly among the better sorbets I have ever had. The champagne grape sorbet tonight was very good as well. It had a rougher, almost icy texture, almost like a granita. Between the sorbet tonight at the Bar Room and the sorbets I had a couple of weeks ago at wd-50, I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite between them. I normally prefer ice cream or gelato to sorbet, but if I keep trying sorbets this wonderful, I may soon be converted into a full-fledged sorbet lover.

This dessert was a beautiful ending to what was a very pleasant meal tonight.

I had:

Artic Char Tartare with daikon and trout caviar

Sorrell Soup with roasted foie gras and barley

Cobia with buckwheat noodles, cockles, and lobster sauce

Artisanal Cheese Selection

Concord and Champagne Grape Sundae

My friend had:

Veal Shank Terrine marbled with goat cheese and watercress

Artichoke Soup with Maine lobster

Wild Salmon with horshradish crust, cabbage, and riesling

Artisanal Cheese Selection

Modern Cheesecake

Without going into details, everything was good (especially that grape sundae!). Besides that dessert, though, nothing else comes to mind as being outstanding or a must-try. However, the food was solid, and the price not bad ($60/per person before tax for what we had). This was my first visit, but definitely will not be my last. I especially would like to try the liverwurst, the wild mushroom soup with toasted chorizo ravioli and the muscovy duck and "gesiers" with lychee and mint, among other things.

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I ate there Sunday (bar). The foie was good as always and they are very good at refilling the bread they bring with it on the side, The wild mushroom soup was very good and served with extra chorizo ravioli, five as opposed to three. The duck confit was good though the skin was not as crisp as I would have liked it. No dessert because I had to make over to WD-50 15 minutes later for the tasting menu :raz:.

Edit: the potato lyonaise(spl) served with the duck confit were superb.

Edited by M.X.Hassett (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

I had lunch at the bar room last Wednesday after spending the morning in the museum. Luckily I had made reservations as they were packed!

I had a nice quartino of Chat. de Pape blanc. With it the artic char tartare. I thought this was excellent and the daikon made it very unusal for me.

then the tagliatelle with escargot and chanterelles. some of the noodles were a bit stuck but once I managed to give it all a nice mix (it was served kind of deconstructed) the flavors were just excellent!!

Water, coffee and my bill had to be begged, that was my only complaint. I was dining alone and my lunch took over 1 1/2 hours.

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A friend and I had lunch in the bar room at the Modern last Thursday. It was my first time there since the re-opening of Moma. The art was stupendous and the reward of a lovely bottle of champagne (which disappeared mysteriously fast!) and quite succulent appetizers made for a lovely day of hookey. You can mix and match at will - so it is very easy to put together a meal that will suit a variety of appetites. My friend had the tuna carpaccio which was very fresh and artistically plated. Her second appetizer was also a raw fish - I just can't remember now, but she raved about it. I also chose two appetizers that I would completely recommend: smoked eel rillettes and then a poached egg with serrano and cockles in a garlic sauce. That was exceptional. The portions were generous and we were quite full. The service was efficient and friendly. My only negative comment was the reservationist who called for the confirmation and said if we didn't call back in five minutes we would lose the table. We were also told that we'd better be there on time. Once there, however, everyone was nice. Oh, and the unisex bathrooms should go. All in all - everyone should give it a try (the restaurant, not the bathroom). We are going for dinner to the main dining room on Nov. 12 - we are very excited about it - it's a tough reservation to get.

Verbeana

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  • 1 month later...

Have you been to The Modern for dinner (the formal dining room)? I'm thinking of recommending it to my uncle, aunt (and their three teenage daughters) for their wedding anniversary. They want something hip and not too stuffy or formal.

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Ate there last night, Bar Room. Over all it was very good.

Started with the Tarte Flambe, which was amazing, but a little heavy for a first course. It was listed as a second so I was surprised when it arrived first. Regardless, it was perfectly sweet, salty and smokey. I ate nearly all of it (and it's huge, like 16").

Next came char and steak tartare. Both were severely under-seasoned and bland, especially after the tarte flambe. I also found the brick-shaped plating to be totally unappealing and reminicent of canned dog food. Low point of the night.

Folowing that came Sorrel Soup and Beef Tongue. The soup was possibly the best I've ever had in my life. The parsley and sorrels were in perfect harmony, and it had a subtle yogurty acid to it. The foie piece in it was practically entree sized, as well, and perfectly executed. Easilly one of the better dishes I've ever tasted.

The tounge was also superb, with a really unique smokey flavor to it. Nothing I'd order twice, but a very nice dish.

Main courses were Squab and Lamb Loin. The squab was ok, nothing special. The star of the dish was actually the delicios spaghetti squash it was bedded on. The bird itself lacked the richness and sweetness I was hoping for. Possibly cooked a little over.

The lamb loin was very nice, with a very present alchohol aroma. I like it when liquor is not completely cooked off, so it was fine for me. The root veg ragoutt it was served upon was pretty boring though.

Desserts were the bengiets and chocolate tart. The donuts were fine I guess, nothing extrodianary (not that I'm a donut lover, but our server recomended it as the premier dessert). I found the accompanying maple ice cream to be WAY too sweet, even cloying. A nice, clean dessert, but just not up my alley.

The chocolate tart was executed to perfection, rich and smooth. I couldn't taste the vanilla ice cream at all in conrast to the tart, though its texture was fantastic. Beautiful quenell too.

Very good meal for the money, and I'll definetely be back at least twice.

Edited by Sethro (log)
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  • 1 month later...

I ate there with a few friends last night. The meal was great and I'll post about it later, BUT

I paid with credit card and my friend left a cash tip with it. I checked my statement today and they had added 20% to it! Now, perhaps something shady happens with cash tips on their end, but does it seem unethical to any one else that they did this? I just would never expect this from a Danny Meyers restaurant...

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I ate there with a few friends last night. The meal was great and I'll post about it later, BUT

I paid with credit card and my friend left a cash tip with it. I checked my statement today and they had added 20% to it! Now, perhaps something shady happens with cash tips on their end, but does it seem unethical to any one else that they did this? I just would never expect this from a Danny Meyers restaurant...

That is nutz! and illegal! Call Modern and say your refuting the charges, then your credit card company to have them investigate.

Btw, the Bar Room Rocks!

That wasn't chicken

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To be clear it was in the Bar Room, and it does rock. That's an awfully nice bathroom and kitchen.

Actually I put it on my debit (tougher to refute). And I'd rather be nice about it... see if I can get a free dinner out of it or something, rather than making a stink about it. Then again, I am posting it in a public forum - maybe someone from Danny's mgmt group reads this...

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I just returned from my first PDR meal at the Modern and was impressed with what they were able to do for a 50-person lunch (this was a travel media lunch for Vail and Beaver Creek). The food was more straightforward than what you see in the dining room but it was good-restaurant-quality food that could easily have passed for something you'd order from a menu at a good restaurant. I had a lobster appetizer and tenderloin entree and tasted someone else's fish with some sort of crust. Dessert was a nice chocolate shell surrounding pudding-like interior. All in all a good place to do a private meal.

I ate there with a few friends last night. The meal was great and I'll post about it later, BUT

I paid with credit card and my friend left a cash tip with it. I checked my statement today and they had added 20% to it! Now, perhaps something shady happens with cash tips on their end, but does it seem unethical to any one else that they did this? I just would never expect this from a Danny Meyers restaurant...

When you say "a few friends," was it a large party of five or six or more? Many restaurants impose an automatic service charge on tables larger than a certain size. I don't know the Modern's policy but why not start by calling the restaurant to see if they can get to the bottom of it before you take it to the level of a public complaint?

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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